Open Source Creative Podcast #17 – On Selfishness

Yay! Another Open Source Creative Podcast episode. In this one, I have a long conversation with myself about the nature of art and open source software as it pertains to selfishness. Is art inherently selfish? Is it not? Is that a bad thing? And likewise for Free Software. Yeah… it’s an interesting thing and it was stuck in my head because of a handful of tweets with Chris Oatley, Stephen Brooks, and Amanda Carbine (and that’s the beauty of Twitter, by the way… I don’t know any of these people, but it was cool to have a conversation with them). Anyhow, have a listen and let me know your thoughts.

But first…. a few personal news linkage bits:

  • Blender For Dummies, 3rd edition was released. Woohoo!
  • As a result, I re-launched BlenderBasics.com as the official Blender For Dummies website with a bunch of written tutorials there
  • And, thanks to the generous backers of my Kickstarter campaign, I was able to purchase a block of 100 ISBNs and I’ve started the publishing process for my first indie book, Definitely True: Year One, under my M. J. Guns pen name. The ebook is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo… and both the print version and the ebook will be available on all the other book selling sites shortly. Wheeeee!

And… in open source creative software news:

Open source creative software releases:

And one last thing that I forgot to mention… I’m speaking SELF, the SouthEast LinuxFest, in Charlotte, North Carolina. SELF is in June, from the 12th to the 14th. I’ll be talking about producing cool creative things with open source software. I’ve never been to a Linux conference before so it should be a lot of fun. If you’re going to be there, come track me down.

And that’s about it. See you next episode.

Blender For Dummies, 3rd edition… Released!

Blender For Dummies

So in the midst of my indie writing shenanigans, the 3rd edition of Blender For Dummies is officially out and in the wild as of today! Wheee!

As a result, I’ve relaunched blenderbasics.com as the official website of Blender For Dummies. Content there is pretty sparse at the moment, but stay tuned! I’ll be posting a new article, tutorial, or neat thing there each day for the next handful of days.

Open Source Creative Podcast #16 – Let’s Talk Spec

At long last, another Open Source Creative Podcast episode is here! Sorry for the long gap between episodes, folks… it’s been a crazy month. In any cast, this episode was recorded back in March and in it I talk about doing spec work (that is, speculative work) as a creative producer of things. Episode 15 really helped me nail down where I think my position is on this, so in a way, it’s an extension of that. It’s a bit of a contrast to the folks at nospec.com.

Of course, when there’s a month gap between episodes, there’s a lot of news that transpires. First (because, well, it’s my podcast), the me-related news:

  • Be a responsible open source user – I wrote an article that was posted on opensource.com!
  • I had a Kickstarter project – If you’re on my mailing list or follow me here or on social media, you probably already know this. I learned a lot from this… definitely interested in sharing
  • Calendar flipbook animation – For my Kickstarter project, I designed a daily tear-off calendar. Not only could I not resist making it also a flipbook, I was compelled to make an animation of that flipbook in action. Eventually, I’ll write a little tutorial on how it’s done
  • Blender For Dummies 3rd edition is coming out! – You can pre-order it now, but the official release is 27 April 2015. Wheeeee

Yeah… but enough about me. There was also a bunch of real new in the open source creative world:

Calls for content:

And that should about do it. Wow.

Talkatcha next week!

Daily Tear-off Calendar, the Animation

One of the rewards for my Kickstarter campaign is a daily tear-off calendar, with a lie from Definitely True: Year One on each page of the calendar. It’s actually at the printer being made right now (woohoo!). One of the fun things about a tear-off calendar is that it’s built exactly like a simple flipbook. So I couldn’t resist adding a little animation to the bottom of each page. The problem, though, is that I’m a bit impatient. I kind of want to see what the calendar is going to look like now. I don’t want to wait for the printer to finish it and ship it to me.

So, like any rational person, I took the pages that I laid out and made a 3D model of the calendar. Then I rigged it and animated it. Have a look-see:

Of course, this means I also need to step up and get the definitelytrue.com website finished. (always something to get done!)

But, I’m only having 10 of these calendars printed for the Kickstarter campaign. Two of them have already been claimed. We’re still trying hard to reach the 100 ISBN stretch goal of $575, so if you know anyone who’d like one of these calendars (or you want one yourself), you know what to do!

And again, I definitely need to express my gratitude to everyone who’s supported this project so far. I can’t express how much it means to me. Thank you.

Kickstarter AHOY!

Kickstarter_logo

Well… It’s started. You can click the image above or you can click this little bit of text right here to go to my Kickstarter project. The campaign has 10 days. I’m trying to raise $125 to purchase an ISBN for my first independently published book in ebook format. Of course, if we can raise more than that, I can publish the book in print as well. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The pledge values are reasonable and the rewards are well worth it… or at least fun.

In any case, this is my first time trying any kind of crowdfunding, so I’m excited to see how it all works (and if it works… I’m a little terrified). If you can offer support, I’d appreciate it. If you could spread the word to folks you know, then I’ll be forever in your debt.

Let’s see how this goes.

The Kickstarter Cometh

Kickstarter_logo

Assuming all of the approvals go through and there are no hiccups, then within the next 24 hours, I’m going to be launching my first ever Kickstarter campaign. If you’re subscribed to my email list, then you’ve already gotten a sneak preview of it (thanks for the feedback, folks!). I won’t go into heavy details here (you’ll see it when the campaign launches), but here’s the long and short of it: I’m raising cash to purchase an ISBN for my first indie published book, Definitely True: Year One, under my M. J. Guns pen name. It’s an exciting time and I’m super stoked to see how this little experiment pans out.

The campaign will run for 10 days. So if you follow me here, on social media, or my podcast, I might get a tiny bit salesy. Of course, if I’m overdoing it, don’t hesitate in letting me know. I listen. I really do.

So yeah… keep your eyes peeled. The countdown for kicking off the Kickstarter campaign commences… um…. ksoon.

Clean Reader? I dunno…

Middle Finger

So this has been circulating the interwebbernets today a bit and it got me thinking. So much so, that it got me writing here. With any luck, it’ll get you thinking, too.

In any case, the short version goes something like this: Recently there was a mobile app (iDevice and Android) released called Clean Reader. It purports to allow users to “Read books, not profanity.” Writers all over have taken to condemning this app up and down… including a beautifully profane (albeit long) piece by Chuck Wendig. Almost universally, writers have been finding all sorts of fun and creative ways to hurl expletives in the direction of the Clean Reader developers (Chuck’s [can I call you Chuck?] “fuckecho through the canyon of fucks” definitely made me giggle).

But I’m torn.

I’m of a few different minds on this one… four to be specific. I’ll name them: Writer, Artist, Business Monkey, and IP Nerd. Let’s break it down into headings. Headings are fun…

Writer

This guy in my head vehemently agrees with Chuck and other like-minded writerfolk. You want to change my words? The ones I slaved over and picked for very specific reason? Kindly go fuck yourself. If you can’t handle profanity in a book, then you probably aren’t in the target audience of the book.

Sometimes profane language is haphazard, but generally speaking, it’s included within very specific contexts… and those contexts are likely to make you even more uncomfortable than a simple “shit” or “asshat” or “cumcicle” (gross).

Artist

However, I’ve had a very specific philosophy when considering my art — be it graphical, written, performance, what-have-you. Simply put, that philosophy states that once you put a piece of art out into the world, it’s no longer yours. It belongs to the audience. And the audience can interpret the work however it likes… even manipulate it.

With that perspective, Clean Reader is simply an extension of the audience. It might be ultimately hampering the communication of the intended message, but it’s not my place as an artist to control that. And as someone who is personally interested in open content and permissive licensing, it’s hard to get my ire raised too much by an app like Clean Reader.

Business Monkey

Technically speaking, what Clean Reader is doing is creating a translation of the work on the fly. Funny sidenote: when my first kid was born, I tried like hell to convince my wife that we should have a bilingual family. In public, we’d speak English, but in the home, we would speak Profanity. Sadly, I don’t think she ever seriously bought into that pitch.

In any case, in the business of books, translations are controlled by contracts. That is, a writer or publisher may allow a third party to translate a book and distribute it in a foreign market in exchange for splitting the proceeds. This means two things. First, the writer or publisher has to consent to the translation being done. And second, the writer or publisher gets paid. At this point, the second thing isn’t a huge deal for the app… but it may be if they start charging for their cleaning service. The first point, however, is a big one…. and it dovetails into my fourth mind.

IP Nerd

In my understanding of copyright law, Clean Reader is producing what’s called a derivative work. If the original work has a copyright with all rights reserved, then derivative works must be approved by the original copyright owner. If they are not, then the unsanctioned derivative can’t be distributed.

Now, from my understanding of the app, Clean Reader isn’t technically distributing the derivative work. You purchase the original property and it gets translated/filtered within the app. The derivative work is created on the fly, but it’s the original being distributed. So maybe Clean Reader is in the clear here… but maybe not. By allowing the purchase of books within their app’s ecosystem with the explicit purpose of making that derivative work, it could be argued that they’re effectively distributing the derivative work. It’s a bit shaky, though… because a ruling in that direction could easily have big ramifications as it pertains to copyright law.

A lot of writers have been slippery-sloping this in one direction (“What if a whole scene in my book is deemed offensive? Will a future version of this app bleep that scene out and replace it with dancing puppies?”), but let’s look at it in the other direction. There’s a lot of technological development going on these days for “legitimate” translation on the fly. Technically speaking, those auto-generated translations count as derivative works, too. Would writers nuke the future possibility of having their work read by a foreign audience because they want to maintain profanity in their native language?

I Dunno…

So yeah… four minds. Tallying it up, it looks like I have one “fuck no,” one “it’s no big deal”, one “will I get paid for this?” and one “this will be interesting to watch if it gets to be a legal battle.” And people wonder why I have a hard time figuring out where I want to eat lunch…

What’s your thoughts? Which mind do you agree with most? Do you have a different opinion altogether?

Definitely True – Pants on Fire Timelapse

You may or may not have noticed that I have a little graphic to accompany my daily lies. Well… I made that in Blender. And for fun, I recorded a timelapse of the whole process. Of course, I didn’t have any epic music to lay over the video, so instead I hastily recorded a voice over to describe the various steps I took in the process. It’s quick n’ dirty, but I think it does the job pretty nicely for now.

In any case, here’s the video (feel free to mute me if my post-laryngitis voice starts bothering you):

Open Source Creative Podcast #15 – Idiots and Hypocrites: Used Digital Media

I have a strange feeling that this episode is going to get me into a bit of trouble. Maybe. We’ll see. I get into details and backstory in the actual episode, but it all started with a question (or, better, replies to a question) regarding the resale of “used” digital content — specifically ebooks — in an episode of the Sell More Books Show, a podcast that’s pretty prevalent in the indie publishing scene. This episode is a bit of a rant launched from that premise. To sum up, the way I look at it is as follows:

  • If you think that reselling “used” digital media makes any sense, you’re an idiot.
  • If you have a problem with used digital content (dumb as that idea is), but don’t have the same problem with used content in physical media, you’re a hypocrite.
  • And, if you’re releasing some of your content for free (as in beer) as a marketing tactic, but you don’t see used resales or even piracy as additional marketing venues, you’re also a hypocrite.

So yeah… that’s my piece. I’m looking forward to see what everyone else thinks.

In me-related news, here are a couple links:

  • Afterwriting – This is a fantastic little web-based (javascript, from the looks of it) open source tool for converting screenplays written in the fountain syntax to properly formatted PDFs. It also gives some interesting stats about your screenplays as well. Definitely worth a look.
  • LinuxLUGcast – I recently started participating in this Mumble chat LUG. Meetings happen every 1st and 3rd Friday, they’re recorded, and shared as a podcast. Pretty cool.

And links related to open source creative news stuff:

New software releases:

Whew…. that’s a lot of stuff.

Open Source Creative Podcast #14 – Taking the Flipside

So this episode turned out to be a really long one. The bulk of it is a topic that comes courtesy of @3pointedit on Twitter (thanks for listening!). That is, the costs of choosing to use free and open source software tools to produce your creative works. We often hear (or read) the benefits, but those of us on this side of the fence are less vociferous when it comes to the costs and consequences of this choice of ours. I run through those costs… at least in as much as how I see it.

Also, I devote a good chunk of time to discussing my hunt for a version control system for my writing work, as also detailed in my last blog post. Short version: it should work without a central server and it needs to have a full-featured Android client. Suggestions welcome.

The format for the show got shuffled around a bit, too. I’ve started doing the news bits as part of the intro and I have a little closing bit at the end. Let me know how you like it.

Speaking of news… this is what I cover:

And that should about do it. Lemme know what you think!