I wanted to comment a little on the article I mentioned yesterday, "Government and library open data using Creative Commons tools". To me openness in data is very important when it comes to organizations and government. If you are running a business and you want to use proprietary data formats with proprietary software to hold your data, that's fine. That's entirely up to you. It's yourmy data. I should not be required to purchase any special software or worry about what happens if a company goes out of business, or simply changes their mind as to what they want to be doing. (Have you seen anyone with their information trapped in an old Foxpro application, written by "some guy" who is no longer available? It's tragic!) I think it is excellent that governments are starting to explore tooling and making data more easily available. After all, we pay for all of these things with our taxes. We should be able to leverage this information for our own purposes. Can you imagine the amazing data mashups that will happen over time? I can't wait to see where it all goes.
I try to take the same attitude about data when I'm in some sort of organization or club. I've seen too many situations where some talented person with fantastic software connections swoops in and does all kinds of great work for a club, then moves on. No one else has the skills (or the licenses) for these great products and the whole thing deteriorates and eventually has to be started from scratch by the next volunteer. I try to get people into collaborative software so that information is available to everyone who needs it and can be kept up-to-date rather than trying to figure out which combination of people has the most current data. I usually use Google Docs because anyone can access it and most people already know it. However, it's not the only way. I feel the same way about web sites and databases. Keep the technologies simple and open and when your superstar steps away someone can come in and pick up where he left off. All it takes is some commitment and willingness to learn. Cost is not a barrier.
Speaking of organizations and coding, we have a great article this week by Uche Ogbuji on developerWorks this week! He's talking about how to use GitHub to help your group collaborate on projects. Of course, these kinds of things work with things besides code. I've often thought about applying this sort of document management to some of my editorial work. Maybe this article will help me kick it off.
Also, check out some of the projects that are hosted on GitHub!
GitHub hosts open-source projects for free, so it's a great option to
get your object going. Say! Rather than listening to me, why don't
you go read "Social networks meet open-source project hosting" now.
Hack 'em up!
I've mentioned before how much I love repurposing equipment. It's one of the things that got me interested in open-source in the first place. I could take older equipment and breathe new life into it, or discover new capability. It's fun if you like to tinker and it can make you incredibly resourceful.
Some time back I reflashed my Internet router with DD-WRT. You can relive that in my entry, "My freak router". I've continued to run this with great success. This week, Carla Schroder gives you step-by-step information on taking your own modest Internet router and unleashing its capabilities to give you more control and security. Check out "Add Linux power to wireless routers with advanced tips and tricks for DD-WRT". Let me know what you do with it. Also let me know if you know of other projects like this that deserve some light. I try to keep up with them, but I don't get to explore them all.
Coming soon, I'll be doing some more video work. Interesting stuff
a-comin'. Chroma-key, compositing, CGI, sound sync and cleanup... all
with free, open-source software on Linux.