The fine folks at COILHOUSE magazine (mentioned many a time here in the past, and who featured Xeni and Boing Boing Video in issue 3 have just put made available for the first time all five back issues as DRM-free PDF downloads. Issues are $5 each or $20 for all five, with promises that the funds from this will go directly into the production of issue number 6. The COILHOUSE team are some of my favorite people; if you missed picking up the printed versions when they were available, now is your chance to catch up.
It's no secret that I love Wikipedia, which I consider one of the grandest and most radical social experiments of our time, and the very best example of what the free culture movement offers for the world's future. I even love Wikipedia critics. There's nothing I love more than to improve an article after some whiny-baby complains about its quality with a copypasta example. For instance, novelist Jonathan Lethem was bagging on "the infinite regress of Wikepedia [sic] tinkering-unto-mediocrity" the other day. Too bad The Atlantic has no way for readers to fix that typo in the way I updated the article on Blake Edwards' cult classic The Party, which was the object of Lethem's scorn. He seems to miss the point that an encyclopedia article, even one about a screwball comedy, is supposed to be dry, factual, and not especially screwball. Just the facts, ma'am. I also love that his snapshot of the page is no longer that relevant.
In the past I have discussed Wikibumps (like the spike of a million readers who checked out the Salvia article in the week after the Miley Cyrus bong video) and the Click to Jesus game, where you see how few links it takes to get from a random Wikipedia article to the Jesus article. Here are a couple of other good reasons to love Wikipedia and its sister projects which you may not have seen:
I hope you'll swing by, learn some things, maybe improve something (they even have a secure server option). There is still plenty to do, and it will never be completed. At the very least, just marvel at the possibilities for the future of free culture embodied in the project. What are some of your favorite things about it? Please share in the comments.
"I love index cards," says Harry, "And I was thinking -- hmm, how can I incorporate them into a project?" So he designed and printed these game cards, and "spread the seeds of sneakiness and espionage" into the unsuspecting pockets, math books, binders and bags and jackets of his schoolmates.
I tracked most of the cards and found, with much satisfaction, that a majority of them had been passed down at least three times. The most successful story is of the card passed from student to student three times before ending up in a math teacher's jacket. The teacher found it and gave it to another math teacher, who inserted it into a student's corrected test before giving it back to him. The card passed hands once again before I lost track of it.
Below, some sample cards in Harry's game. (Link to PDF). More after the jump.
We're publishing an 8-part series of videos profiling the winners. Today, meet 15-year-old Ferran Rovira Bosca, of Spain. He created a concept for an "Eco Self-Sustaining House" -- architecture of the future that captures its own renewable energy, and operates off the grid. Ferran believes technology can help us come up with new ways of protecing the environment and saving money in our households at the same time. He says he learns a lot about what's possible in this realm from exploring sustainable technology websites online.
In this video, you'll meet awesome 16 year old Nick Brenn. His crafty Altoids tin hacks led to a winning "Electronikits" project for the Digital Open, which sells electronics kits for pocket-sized tin-mod flashlights and other DIY oddities.
I loved his answer to the "Who is this project for?" part of the Digital Open Questionnaire: "Anyone with a passion for being a DIY-er and a fiend for building cool projects. Who wouldn't want a sweet Altoids LED Flashlight? You could have the freshest flashlight on the block! Or an Altoids night-light! It is rare to find someone with such cool projects as you would have!"
Nick tells us more about how "Electronikits" came to be, below and after the jump:
It all started with instructions that I posted on Instructables.com, on how to build a "Super Awesome Altoids MINI Flashlight." Soon after winning a contest on Instructables, I was contacted by a sales associate at the science supply company Edmund Scientific. I was like, "WOW!", someone wants to buy kits from me that I don't even have! This was an opportunity too good to pass up.
In today's episode, you'll meet young Ms. Alexis McAdams, whose winning project was a concept for a kind of "living diorama," called "Dioractive." The idea: re-enact current events (say, the floods in the Phillippines, or the internally displaced refugees in Darfur) with human actors, to help people understand and empathize, and feel motivated to change the world.
Alexis told us she found out about the Digital Open by reading Boing Boing, and she's been a fan of our blog for some time (thanks, cool!). She says the idea for "Dioractive" came from varied sources of inspiration: LARPers (folks who do live-action roleplaying games), Civil War re-enactments (the real-life kind), history-based videogames (her brother's into these), and a diorama project she did in third grade. She digs theater, and learning foreign languages. All of this combined into an idea of how to place ourselves into the lives of the "other," and understand in a more personal way just how interconnected we all are.
The BW Science Labs Store is an idea I've had for a while now, but it has taken a lot of work to get it up and running. There is currently 1 kit available, the Vivus the Robot kit. I"ve seen a lot of those really low-quality $20 robots where you clap your hands and they twitch, and I've seen $400 robots with a great deal of functionality. I wanted to make something in between, and that's exactly what Vivus is. During prototyping I wanted to make a "real robot", one that was autonomous and could truly act on its own, while trying to keep the cost down as well.
In today's episode, you'll meet the "Funky Shiitake Mushrooms," a group of young people from a Fremont, CA high school who build robotic blimps. The one you see in this video also doubles as a fashionable hat, as you can see from the photo inset at left (that's me with the headgear).
The blimp in this episode is named "Skittles the Second," after the popular, cartoon-colored candy. They'd made an earlier version of "Skittles," but that one floated away. In fact, it floated all the way to a farm near Yosemite. The farmer found an ID tag on the floataway airship, and phoned a teacher at the high school to advise. The teen makers were eager to road trip out there and pick it up, but only one of them was old enough to drive.
Their energy and inventiveness was inspiring. I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed making it.
Institute for the Future teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing Video to co-host the Digital Open, an online tech expo for teens 17 and under around the world. Today, we're publishing the first of 8 videos profiling each of the winning teen teams -- and we begin with "Centralized Student Website," by Raymond Zhong and Aatash Parikh, two cool kids from Fremont who dig Drupal.
The Digital Open (DigitalOpen.org) ran from April 15 until August 15, 2009. Youth from around the world submitted text, photos, and videos documenting projects all created from a list of free and open software licenses. The projects focused on the transformative power of open technology. Resources from figures like respected open source advocate Richard Stallman to organizations like Creative Commons were made available to contestants to help them learn more about free and open technology movements.
Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the IFTF has been deeply moved by the passion she has seen in the project's participants. "The drive and sense of possibility that these young people brought to this competition has been overwhelming," she says. "The spirit of these contestants not only inspires me, but gives me hope for the future."
The final deadline for submissions is August 15, 2009, but projects posted before the deadline will benefit significantly from feedback from the Digital Open community. We are giving away more than $15,000 worth of very cool prizes including laptops, video cameras, recycled billboard backpacks, solar-powered gear and more. We've already received 49 projects from eight countries: Argentina, Canada, India, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, the UK and the US!
Are you a young maker or know one? There is still a month to submit projects to The Digital Open, an online expo for open technology projects created by people aged 17 and under from around the world. The Digital Open is a project of the Institute for the Future in partnership with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing. The deadline for submissions is August 15 but if you enter your project (even if it's not finalized) by July 24, you may win one of five Flip Ultra Camcorders. Grand prizes in the Digital Open include laptops running OpenSolaris and other fun gear. Entries will be judged by Eric Wilhelm of Instructables, Dale Dougherty of MAKE, Kati London of Area/Code, Graham Hill of Treehugger, Linda Rogers of Sun, Nick Bilton of the New York Times, Lawrence Lessig, our own Xeni Jardin, and many other interesting folks. The Digital Open
BB pal and Institute for the Future colleague Jess Hemerly sends the following note about the Digital Open, an IFTF project now underway in partnership with Sun and Boing Boing! Jess writes:
Last year, Institute for the Future took an in-depth look at DIY culture with the Future of Making project, led by David Pescovitz. Working under the header "The way things are made is being re-made," we explored a dramatic shift in manufacturing and innovation, where we are moving from top-down, proprietary models to bottom-up and open ones. The maker movement grows larger every year, and with MAKE Magazine's Maker Faire in its fourth year, the momentum continues to push society to take a closer look at all things DIY. With President Obama's recent call to re-make America, more people are beginning to think about how they, too, can help to make the future.
But it's not just tech savvy adults getting into the DIY world. It's young people too, young people who want to play an active role in making their future. Working with technology in particular to create, improve, explore, or contribute to the world around us is a fantastic way to learn about how the world works--and understand how we might be able to make something work better. Young people who take an active interest in technological innovation are the makers of a foundation for a better future.
That's why The Digital Open, an Institute for the Future project in partnership with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing, is looking to capture the spirit of the future makers. We're looking for youth ages 17 and younger who are working with technology to create, improve, explore, or contribute to their world by submitting free & open technology projects in 8 categories ranging from sustainability to gaming, from media to science and education. We want to provide a forum for these young makers to show off their innovations and to find other makers like them. The Digital Open is the maker community of the future.
If you are a young person who loves to create things with technology, whether for fun or with the hope of becoming an entrepreneur one day, maybe even tomorrow, we want you! Or if you are an adult fortunate enough to work with bright young innovators, please encourage them to join us. Sign up at digitalopen.org or email info [at] digitalopen [dot] org for more information on how you can get involved.
Above, a video we produced with IFTF and teen 'web talent Charis Tobias, to invite young people around the world to join in.
Here's a snip from the launch announcement:
"What can you make with technology that will change the world, invent the future--or even just make life a little easier or more fun?"
Institute for the Future, in partnership with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing, invite youth worldwide, age 17 and under, to join us as we explore the frontiers of free and open innovation. Running from April 15 until August 15, 2009, the Digital Open: An Innovation Expo for Global Youth will accept text, photos, and videos documenting projects at DigitalOpen.org from young people around the world, all licensed under one from a list of free and open software licenses.
Youth can submit projects in a variety of areas, ranging from the environment, media, and community, to the more traditional open source domains of software and hardware. Additionally, the Digital Open will provide resources and links to help them learn more about free and open technology movements, from figures like Richard Stallman to organizations like Creative Commons.
(...) Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future emphasized the participatory nature of the project. "The Digital Open is more than just a competition," she says. "It's about recognizing and encouraging kids to follow their passions while giving them community experiences that further encourage or challenge their best thinking."
The top project in each of the eight Digital Open categories will be selected by a panel of approximately 20 judges, including David-Michel Davies (Webby Awards) Lawrence Lessig (Harvard/Creative Commons), David Pescovitz (Boing Boing!) and Dale Dougherty (Make).
Winners receive a tech prize package including a PeeCee mini laptop running the OpenSolaris operating system, a video camera, a solar-powered flashlight, and other goodies.