We've written often about Carl Malamud, the rogue archivist who has devoted his life to making the world's laws, standards, and publicly owned information into free, accessible, beautiful online documents. Now, I'm pleased to help him launch an ambitious, vital Kickstarter project aimed at raising at least $100,000 to turn the world's public safety codes into thoroughly linked, high-quality HTML documents (presently, many of the 28,040 public safety codes that Carl and public.resource.org have put online exist as scanned bitmaps that can't be searched or linked). The project involves a careful re-typing of all that scanned material and re-tracing of images and formatting them as vector-based SVG files.
Carl and his colleagues have fought in the courts for their right to publish the law that we, the people, are expected to follow. They have passed on lucrative careers in the private sector to devote themselves to public interest, public spirited work that makes the sourcecode for the world's governments available at our fingertips. The work they are doing unlocks untold billions in value -- from being able to ensure that your weekend DIY rewiring project meets code and won't burn down your house, all the way up to giving workers in deadly factories in Bangladesh access to the laws that are supposed to be honored in their workplaces.
$115 gets you a copy of their giant, amazing book of global safety standards, but there are interesting and awesome premiums at price-ranges from $10 (public acknowledgement on the Wall of Safety) to $475 (the Big Box of Propaganda!). I've put in my $115 -- not for the book, but as a way to thank Carl and co for the amazing work they do, and as a means of funding more of it. I hope you'll give, too.
Read the rest
Read the rest
Samantha Cook sez, "Hacker Scouts, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland CA, has launched a Kickstarter to fund a new hackerspace designed for kids and their families. Due to the increase in demand for their programs, Hacker Scouts is working with local partners to build a space that is practical and exciting where they can run classes and workshops, support outreach programs to Oakland's diverse community, and continue to prototype programs and activities that they release open source to the global community. Hacker Scouts has been successfully bringing STEAM Education and real, relevant skill building for over a year and have grown from one program in Oakland to over 30 programs all over the US. In order to continue the high level of individualized learning and mentorship, they need a space that matches their growth. Please support Hacker Scouts by donating and/or sharing this project. More information can be found on the Hacker Scouts website and on our Kickstarter page."
A reader writes, "The Mighty Wurlizter at San Francisco's Castro Theatre is in danger of being sold. There is an attempt being made to purchase the Wulitzer and upgrade some needed elements. The organ at the Castro is a beloved San Francisco treasure, it would be a pity to lose it!"
Amen. This is one of San Francisco's great, underappreciated attractions, along with the Musee Mechanique and Alcatraz. It needs saving.
Clarion Write-a-Thon: sponsoring writers to raise money for the Clarion science fiction and fantasy workshop
I've just signed up for the Clarion Write-a-Thon, an annual fundraiser that brings in money to run the non-profit Clarion Writers Workshop, a kind of bootcamp for science fiction writers held every year at UCSD's La Jolla Campus. I'm a Clarion grad, volunteer board-member, and I'm back teaching the program this year, so I guess you could say I believe in it pretty strongly. Here's my profile on the Write-a-Thon, should you wish to sponsor the story I'm working on (it's a short called "The Man Who Sold the Moon," about robotic 3D printers that sinter lunar regolith), and if you're working on something of your own, you can sign up and get your friends to sponsor you, too!
The Brony Thank You Fund spun out of a
Reddit forum Indiegogo fundraiser for fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ("bronies" and "pegasisters"). After raising money to run an ad thanking the show's creators for doing such a great job, the organizers donated the hefty excess balance to Toys for Tots. The project continued to gain momentum and it is now a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization through which fans of My Little Pony can make tax-free donations that will be funneled to worthy causes. They claim that they're the first media-related fandom to register as a charity -- I'm pretty sure that some science fiction conventions are run as 501(c)3s, though.
On Monday, the Boston Marathon was bombed. On Monday night I was feeling blessed and thankful to not know anyone directly affected by the bombs. But on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email from my colleague Chris Peterson at the MIT Center for Civic Media. Chris's family are friends with the family who lost their son Martin in the attack. He sent us photos of he and his brothers playing with their children and the reality was all too close. It is devastating. This family will have a long road of healing in front of them that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.
My friends at MIT and I have spent the past couple of days helping Chris build a site to raise money for the Richard family. We are coordinating with St Marks Area Main Street, a non-profit community organization based in Dorchester, MA, where the family lives. The site is made with the support of the family and their spokesperson. 100% of funds raised goes to the family. Please give what you can. It's the very least we can do to come together in solidarity with these innocent people and help them to rebuild their lives in the wake of senseless violence. In the photo on the site Martin is holding a sign he made in school that says "Peace". Let us spread that peace.
Adam sez, "The Public Domain Review is a not-for-profit project dedicated to showcasing the most interesting and unusual out-of-copyright works available online. We've been featured on Boing Boing before. We have just launched our fundraising campaign to try and keep the project alive."
FREEDOM, a legendary anarchist bookstore in east London, was firebombed on Friday morning. This is the store that Peter Kropotkin helped found in the 19th century, and the home of a monthly newspaper that published Emma Goldman. No one was hurt, and no one seems to know who did it, or why. The store was uninsured.
They're having a community clean-up day today. I wish I could go, but it's my daughter's fifth birthday, so I'll be donating to the repair and rebuilding fund. This is a ghastly, senseless act.
The bookshop has been firebombed. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but there’s quite a lot of damage from both the fire and the water used to douse the flames.
If you’d like to help us sort out some of the mess, please come down to the shop on Saturday 2nd February from 1pm and give us a helping hand. See here for details.
We’re still assessing the damage, so watch this space for further news.
If you’d like help us out financially, cheques or postal orders made payable to Freedom Press can be sent to Freedom Press, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX.
You can also help by ordering books through our website here and then emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that your purchase was a donation.
I can't say enough about what a tragedy this is. FREEDOM is an institution and an incredible bookstore.
(Photo: International Times)
Jay Lake cancer fundraiser: expect a 3D scan of my head while making a funny face originated by John Scalzi
Last week, I blogged about the fundraiser to help sf writer Jay Lake with his cancer therapy (he's hoping to have his genome sequenced and to find some new avenues for treatment) and expenses. The fundraiser involves sf writers and friends doing "public acts of whimsy" as progressively higher sums were raised.
The fundraiser is going great guns, and I've thrown in my own "act of whimsy," which was unlocked overnight: because the fundraiser has crossed the $35K mark, I will "release a a CC-BY scan of my head while recreating any funny expression that John 'Rubberface' Scalzi can photograph himself making."
There are still more whimsical acts to be unlocked, all the way up to $100K ("Jay! The Musical!").
Mary Robinette Kowal sez, "Jay Lake is an award-winning American author of ten science fiction novels and over 300 short stories. He is also one of more than a million Americans who have colon cancer. Diagnosed in April, 2008, Jay's cancer has progressed from a single tumor to metastatic disease affecting the lung and liver, recurring after multiple surgeries and chemotherapy courses, and multiplying from single tumor presentations to multiple tumors presentations. Jay is now in his fourth round of chemotherapy, but it's not clear that it's working, and his doctors have little to go on in terms of advising further courses of treatment for him. In short, things are not looking good for Jay. Not at all. A group of science fiction and fantasy authors have joined forces to raise funds for Jay Lake by committing Acts of Whimsy on the internet. These range from Cherie Priest's Steampunk fashion show for pets to Neil Gaiman's cover of a Magnetic Fields song on the ukulele."
The money will go for a whole-genome sequencing for Jay, which may point to more effective treatment avenues. I put in $200. I hope you'll help, too.
Back in November, I blogged the Tsarina of Tsock's wonderful shark socks, noting that they were not yet articles of commerce and hoping that they would become such soon. Now, Tsarina writes and says,
You asked me to let you know when my Shark Week sock was released to the general public, so I thought this might be of interest. I'm not actually doing the full-on release yet, as such, but I've made the pattern available for a limited time as part of a fund-raiser for hurricane Sandy relief. If you're a real glutton for punishment you can read the whole tale of woe on my blog here:
World Without End (Thanks, Tsarina!)
One more for the Charity Guide: Hackers for Charity:
We’re about proving that hackers have amazing skills that can transform charitable organizations. We’re about stepping into the gap to feed and educate the world’s most vulnerable citizens. We are virtual, geographically diverse and different. We are Hackers for Charity.
We employ volunteer hackers (no questions asked) and engage their skills in short “microprojects” designed to help charities that can not afford traditional technical resources. Our industry experts vet all the work to guarantee a high-quality product, and volunteers are rewarded with glowing references from our industry-recognized subject matter experts. With each project, our volunteers move one step closer to that dream job, and a charity is brought one step closer to its technical goals. We’ve designed and built web sites, set up blogs, programmed custom web applications, conducted code reviews, performed security assessments and more, all through our volunteer’s efforts. In addition, thanks to one donor, we provide hosting, bandwidth and support for the final product free of charge.
We’re also working on the ground in Uganda, East Africa to support aid organizations working to help some of the world’s poorest citizens. We provide free computer training in our computer training center, and we provide technical support in the form of computer repair, networking services and more. We have supported many local schools with the addition of computers and training software.
We also provide food to children in East Africa through our food program. All the profits from sales of my No-Tech Hacking book go into this program along with the income from our (now-defunct) Informer subscription program.
Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!
Electronic Frontier Foundation
There's never been a time when EFF's mission was more important: everything we do today involves the Internet; everything we do tomorrow will require it. No one stretches a dollar further and gets more done than EFF. They've been at it since 1990, and have been at the forefront of practically every significant online rights battle through the whole era of the Internet's rise to prominence. The world I want my kid to grow up in needs EFF in it. —CD
CC celebrated its tenth birthday (!) this year, a remarkable milestone from a remarkable organization. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD
Andrew, sez, "Cards Against Humanity (the Kickstarter-funded, adult version of Apples to Apples) made a 'pay what you want' holiday expansion. They published the results of the experiment."
Camille adds, "The results are detailed and interesting...they list out their costs and revenues, with a map showing average price paid by state, and a fun exploration of what they could buy with the profit they made ($70K). And the best part is...they didn't buy any of that stuff, and instead made a generous donation to Wikimedia!"
Cards Against Humanity: Pay-What-You-Want Holiday pack
(Thanks, Andrew and Camille!)
Ever since the UK record labels got a court to order our national ISPs to censor The Pirate Bay, the UK Pirate Party has been offering a proxy that allows Britons to connect to the site and all the material it offers, both infringing and non-infringing.
The record industry has finally struck back. Rather than seeking an injunction against the proxy, or suing the party, it has individually sued the party's executives, seeking to personally bankrupt them and their families. It's an underhanded, unethical, and unprecedented threat to democracy -- essentially a bid to use their financial and legal might to destroy a political party itself.
There's a fundraiser, and I've given more than I can afford to it -- £500 -- because this is plain, old fashioned, corporate bullying. I don't always agree with everything the Pirate Parties do, and I'm not a member of the UKPP, but I'm glad the Pirate Party exists, and I believe that hosting a proxy to the Pirate Bay was a political act, and that the record industry has gone after the personal lives of the executive in order to terrorise people who organise against them. They mustn't be allowed to do this.
Instead of targeting just the Pirate Party, the BPI’s solicitors are now threatening legal action against six individual members. Aside from its leader Loz Kaye, the BPI also sent threats to four other members of the National Executive and the party’s head of IT.
“We had been anticipating legal action ever since I received an email from Geoff Taylor of the BPI. What has taken me aback is that this threat is personally directed. I simply can not see what the music industry think can be positively gained by threatening to bankrupt me and other party officers,” Kaye says.
Making the site’s members personally liable is the ultimate pressure, as they then have all their personal belongings – including their family homes – on the line. Kaye is disappointed with the BPI’s move, not least because the music industry group refused to negotiate the issue.
“Throughout, the party and I have been open to dialogue. Contrary to reports I offered to meet Geoff Taylor for discussion, but this has been rebuffed, at this point we are talking with our legal advisers and will respond to the solicitors in due course. The Pirate Party’s political position remains this – site blocking is disproportionate and ineffective.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is running a fundraising challenge called "Power Up Your Donation," where every dollar donated is matched two-to-one by a group of major donors. My family has put up part of the $140,000 matching fund, because we're living in a world where technology could go either way: it might end up continuing to empower us and improve our lives, or become the agent of an unimaginably invasive corporate surveillance state. Without EFF and groups like it, we don't stand a chance. I worked for EFF for many years, and I've never seen an organization watch the pennies more closely and make a dollar go further.
SF writers Jim C Hines and John Scalzi dress up as sexy female assassins to raise money for The Aicardi Syndrome Foundation
Science fiction writers Jim C Hines and John Scalzi donned sexy garters, high heels, little black dresses and, um, crossbows, and replicated the odd cover of Vicki Pettersson's "The Taste of the Night," competing to see who could was most credible as a sexy female assassin book-cover illustration lady. They were raising money for The Aicardi Syndrome Foundation, a very good cause indeed. Also, Scalzi wore a wig.
Be sure and click the link below for the backstory that makes this all somehow plausible, to see the mind-searing full-size images, and to learn more about the most excellent fundraiser.
Jim from the UK Open Rights Group sez,
Last year, the porn company Golden Eye asked for 9,000 O2/Telefonica customer details in the UK, in order to send them letters demanding payments for alleged copyright downloads. However, in March a judge decided that 6,000 names and addresses could not be given to Golden Eye. Golden Eye was not an normal copyright licensee of the works allegedly downloaded by these 8,000, but had instead acquired a licence from the actual copyright holders to pursue infringers on a revenue sharing basis.
The judge wasn't happy with this arrangement, saying: "that would be tantamount to the court sanctioning the sale of the intended Defendants' privacy and data protection rights to the highest bidder. Accordingly, in my judgment, to make such an order would not proportionately and fairly balance the interests of the Other Claimants with the Intended Defendents' interests."
The judge's decision is now being contested by Golden Eye. If successful they would gain access to the details of just over 6,000 of around 9,000 subscribers. We are therefore asking for donations, towards the costs of intervening, and for people to join ORG to support the legal project.
As TorrentFreak says, "Donating to ORG is like punching copyright trolls in the face."
(Disclosure: I helped found ORG and volunteer on its advisory board)
Clarkesworld is an excellent science fiction pub, its publisher has hit hard times and needs your support
Martin sez, "Neil Clarke over at Clarkesworld SF blog/magazine is ill and just lost his job. John Scalzi has called for uniform support by subscribing to Clarkesworld magazine. It's a highly regarded mag for up and coming sf authors and might need some attention."
I agree with John's assessment. Clarkesworld is a fabulous publication, a labor of love, and something that makes the world a better place. It has been a launching-spot for numerous wonderful writing careers, and deserves your support (and Neil Clarke is a first-class mensch). I just subscribed. You can also donate.
Clarkesworld is an excellent magazine, and it’s also a story market that pays more than the SFWA minimum for professional-level sales, meaning that it’s a good market for writers, too. You can read its content for free on the Web site, but there’s also an option for you to subscribe to the magazine as well, and have it delivered to your e-reader, or to donate to the site to support it.
Now OWS is launching the ROLLING JUBILEE, a program that has been in development for months. OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)
This is a simple, powerful way to help folks in need — to free them from heavy debt loads so they can focus on being productive, happy and healthy. As you can see from our test run, the return on investment approaches 30:1. That’s a crazy bargain!
Now, after many consultations with attorneys, the IRS, and our moles in the debt-brokerage world, we are ready to take the Rolling Jubilee program LIVE and NATIONWIDE, buying debt in communities that have been struggling during the recession.
I just put in $100, which will erase $3000 worth of someone's debt.
Limor and Phil at Adafruit are still baling out their lower Manhattan factory and living space after Sandy, but they're also using the Adafruit site to pass on information about relief efforts to public-spirited makers. Here's one: Voltaic systems (makers of solar chargers) are offering deep discounts and donations to people who are struggling with no/intermittent power.
Glad to hear you guys are back up and running. If you come across any specific individuals that have need for small-scale solar and/or battery power, we are happy to help with deep discounts and or direct donations. Our warehouse in NJ got power back Friday and we are trying to be helpful where we can. Jeff Crystal http://www.voltaicsystems.com/
Phil adds: "They have deep discounts they can do direct donation as it makes sense. Please write to email@example.com for details if you’re still in need of power."
Mary Robinette Kowal sez,
At the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto this weekend, as much as we were talking about fantasy, we were talking about our friends and colleagues who had been hit by the storm. Some of them had to evacuate and had no idea when they'd be able to go home. One editor joked barely -- that his slush pile was actual slush now since his office flooded.
A lot of authors and editors could not make it because they live in New York. Many of those who did make it headed straight for their rooms and had their first hot shower in a week. A lot of them said that they had been unable to see images of the storm damage because they had been without power and so were seeing some things for the first time.
To help raise funds for relief, I'm auctioning off a manuscript of my novel WITHOUT A SUMMER. This is book 3 in my series and isn't out until April 2, 2012. I'll mail the winner a signed manuscript of the book five months before it's in the stores. If the fundraiser goes over $500, I'll also include book 4, VALOUR AND VANITY, which won't be out until 2013. If it goes over $1000, I'll tuckerize the winner into the series. Note: depending on your name, you may or may not be a character but your name will be there. The books are set between 1814-1818 so I do have to be cautious about committing to character names.
Over $1500, and I'll include a manuscript of a book that we haven't even announced yet. All I can tell you is that it is also historical fantasy. If it goes over $2000, I'll think of something cool. All the proceeds will go to American Red Cross in Greater New York.
Ot sez, "Bits of Freedom is organizing its annual donation campaign today. Why? Because privacy and freedom on the internet are under threat and we need to defend our rights online. We can only do so with your help. If you want to help, you can write a blog, use one of our banners on your own site or become a supporter. Thanks!"
Bits of Freedom is the Netherlands' answer to groups like EFF, Open Rights Group, Netzpolitik, La Quadrature du Net, and many others (thankfully, there's more than can be readily enumerated here -- it's a global movement). They really deserve your support.
Bits of Freedom is een onafhankelijke beweging, en dat willen we blijven. We kunnen alleen bestaan dankzij donaties van Nederlanders die geven om hun vrijheid en privacy. Wil jij ook meehelpen om internetvrijheid te beschermen? Word dan donateur.
Met jouw steun kunnen we doorgaan met:
* Schendingen van online rechten signaleren en aanpakken
* Slecht beleid terugdraaien en goed beleid stimuleren. Zowel in Den Haag als in Brussel
* Tools ontwikkelen en kennis delen waarmee jij je eigen internetvrijheid kunt beschermen
* Elk jaar de Big Brother Awards uitreiken aan de grofste privacyschenders
Sumana Harihareswara and sf writer Leonard Richardson will match up to $10,000 in donations to the Ada Initiative, funding for women in open culture and free/open source
Sumana sez, "Scifi author Leonard Richardson and his spouse Sumana Harihareswara are pleding up to $10,000 from their own pockets to match donations to the Ada Initiative made before November 1st. They say: 'This is make-or-break time for the Ada Initiative. Leonard and I make our living through open source and we want to pay it forward.; TAI supports women in open source and open culture."
The Ada Initiative works to increase the participation of women in open technology and culture. They gave me the wording and support I needed to create Wikimedia Foundation's Friendly Space Policy for technical events, which helps everyone at a Wikimedia hackathon feel safer so they can concentrate on rockin' out. If you liked "Be Bold: An Origin Story", the keynote I delivered at Open Source Bridge this year, thank the Ada Initiative, whose advisors helped me shape it. Everyone who wants to grow the open source community benefits from the Ada Initiative's work, and so donating to TAI is like investing in a good piece of machinery; TAI's going to make my work easier for a long time to come.
Please join us in donating to the Ada Initiative, especially if you've also gotten a good career out of open source.