Posted by: 2stepsback | October 15, 2007

From web to paper, a little

Linux should not alienate those who harbor a fear of computers by assuming that it will be too complex to use. Exactly the opposite, as of today. Therefore, they lose out on knowing the social and organizational aspects of FLOSS. A well-structured and well-maintained codebase is a wonderful example of good organization of various parts of any system.
I have myself applied some coding principles to daily life with quite dramatic results.
Likewise, several thoughts, quotes, discussions, articles are a very good collection of thought, opinion and knowledge. some opinons are expert.

Websites that host forums based on Linux, Free Software philosophy, open source, etc should produce paper editions of that content selected and edited for accuracy and relevance. Copyright assignment and revenue sharing can be worked out very easily. That is very small a task as compared to the editorial work needed to produce a coherent prose out of web forum discussions.

But it is worth it. Every bit worth it.

And then you can approach publishing houses – yes the very people who want “to stop you from obsoleting them” (mis)using law, pressure or anything else.
Symbiosis. After everyone wants to make a quick buck.

This idea is based mainly on by belief in the success of autobiographies travelogues, and a few odd but overwhleming publications.
Take Francesco Totti of Italian football/soccer, for instance.
It seems he is a clumsy, stupid fellow (which he clearly is not), due to which he became the subject of countless jokes in Italian football.

Some people we know would have sued everyone in sight for “public insult amounting to defamation and mental suffering and torture and so on”.
Not Totti. What does the guy do?
He goes around and collects all the jokes that they’ve cracked about him, puts them into one compilation, makes a book out of them, even personally attends to see to it that the jokes really sound humorous, and sells the book.
It becomes the national bestseller in Italy for months. He makes good money. Smart, no?
No, smarter still – he goes and gives that money to UNICEF for good work for helping poor children.

That is real genius. To keep your ego aside and do something at the cost of your own “social status” is almost like the GPL – a brilliant social hack.

Totti is a hacker. In the true sense of the word.

Linux forum owners can at least try a nice hack to befriend the publishing houses at a time when everyone else is talking of eliminating paper.

I know some that bums will shout that Linux is creating environmental problems by engaging in such activities. A reality check is needed.
Already, by creating software of that quality and magnitude by simply using the internet, one hell of a lot of petroleum has been saved.
If we manage to make everyone work over the internet, we have actually saved God knows how much global warming.

Tux is _already_ an anti-global-warming champion. Of course, Tux cannot be awarded a Nobel, but GNU, Linux, Sourceforge, Berlios can be! Next year’s nominations!!
And then there are embdedded and low-cost Linux PCs. Thin clients running Linux. Grid computing – only the server room needs Air conditioning. The full list is much bigger.

So, Linux is already so good in so many more ways than just software quality and user freedom.

So there is no case against Linux about wasting paper – God alone knows how many trees are cut for all the paper that circulates as memos, reports, drafts, specs, “records”, toilet tissue (I mean, the _office_ one only), and colorful decorations which no one really bothers about.

Also, almost all popular FLOSS projects have some or the other animal in it – though that may not directly create an effect, it helps in the all-important task of education – people like those cute penguins, dolphins, elephants, and so on. That makes people sensitive to lower species which are often at our mercy. The full list is bigger.

So, sell copies of well-edited extracts of your forums. Yes, sort out the copyright thing. Distributed mini-payments. And make them humorous – they will sell.
“The FLOSS joke book” or “Laugh with Tux” or “Ha Ha Tux”
Look around at xkcd, ELER, the Jargon File, the uncyclopedia.

College libraries could be a potential customer.
Social organizations.
LUG Geek Parties! (NOT conferences.)
Multimedia – video plays with animation (blender), comedies on open-source, plays.
( Ummm…. how do we fit free pizza into this thing…..? )

In short, port humor and insight from web to the real world.
All this has nothing to do with technical books, which is a different topic altogether.

Can you think of any more?



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