[-empyre-] Week Four - Design

David Ottina david.ottina at gmail.com
Fri Jun 25 10:18:20 EST 2010

Femke I read your post on OSP with great interest as there is lots of
resonance with what we are trying to do at OHP. I heartily agree that
many benefits of free culture are found in the doing of it rather than
simply in its products.

You may be interested to know that we have been connecting book series
editors with designers. Presently, this flows through the academy as
the designers are usually colleagues of editors and authors. What we
see here is incredible levels of engagement on both sides, as you said
the 'hard lines' begin to dissolve. We'd very much like to expand this
type of collaboration but at the moment we don't have a good way of
finding designers and matching them with editors. I'd be interested to
learn more about how OSP makes these kinds of connections.

I'm also curious about your experiences with the FLOSS tool chain for
book and journal production. A major stumbling block for us is that
while a manuscript is in development it needs to round trip with MS
Word. We just don't have the time to manage all the little
incompatibilities. I'm thrilled to learn that OSP is working on open
fonts as we can all desperately use more quality open fonts.

Finally, I'd be interested to hear more about the publishing tools
your working on; there's plenty to explore yet in this area.
Currently, we encourage journals in the collective to use Open
Journals Systems, a FLOSS journal management/CMS from PKP. Mat
Wal-Smith of Fibre Cultre has been doing some very interesting stuff
with WordPress. But again the creation/production part remains

One of the things I find most gratifying about the network nature of
free culture is that without any sort of centralized coordination
complete ecologies of access and exchange can and do arise. As Sean
Dockarey mentioned in relation to AAAARGH and Public School, at some
level it is about communities creating common resources.


On Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 11:34 PM, Femke Snelting
<snelting at collectifs.net> wrote:
> Dear Empyre!
> Thank you all for three interesting weeks of discussion. It seems almost too
> much to add 'design' to the mix now, but here we go:
> As you can read from Michael Dieters introduction, both Pierre Huyghebaert
> and me are members of OSP (Open Source Publishing)[1], a graphic design
> collective using Free, Libre and Open Source Software only. We are
> affiliated with Constant, a Brussels based Foundation for Art and Media, and
> active since 2006.
> To us, the part that software plays in creative work is just too interesting
> to leave with a single proprietary company. It might be the same for
> architecture, animation or writing, but in graphic design, there is not much
> to choose from if you want to play professional. Our choice for Free
> Software is therefore as much about an alliance with Free Culture, as a way
> to break with the shiny but dull surfaces of those habitual
> tools-of-the-trade.
> Once we stepped through the glass mirror we discovered a wonderland of
> software and digital objects, intriguing cultural artefacts that helped us
> re-think what we do on many different levels. Interestingly, F/LOSS tools
> categorically refuse to disappear out of sight. Simply by digressing from
> the norm, they make automatic actions that seemed fluid before (such as
> producing a pdf, sending a document to a printer, converting a file, drawing
> a curve) suddenly tangible and material. It might sound like a cliché, but
> Free software does simply work differently because it is oriented through a
> practice where both collaboration and exchange of knowledge matter. In that
> sense, we have a lot more to gain from Free Culture than increased
> circulation and distribution only.
> OSP works for various clients on illustration, bookdesign, webdesign,
> cartography and typography[2]. We aim to release all design and content
> under open licenses and make sources available where possible. Apart from
> commissioned work, we develop Libre fonts, performances, workshops, texts
> and software. For OSP it is obviously not so interesting to draw a hard line
> between publishing and design (or between form and content) and many of the
> issues brought up over the last few weeks on this list touch upon the kinds
> of issues we are busy with, or the discussions we have with our clients.
> We like to think our Utopian project through practice. Our last adventure
> was to co-organise a large international Free Software event, the fifth
> Libre Graphics Meeting[3] because we wanted to contribute to an occasion for
> artists and developers to meet and collaborate. Our next will hopefully take
> our experiments to another level: we are getting prepared to develop a
> constellation of publishing tools from scratch.
> We make a living from teaching, are being paid for services and receive some
> public funding through Constant. This has not changed much since we
> explicitly decided to work with Open Content and Free Software; it just
> clarified the kind of ecology we were already feeding off and into. In an
> interview OSP once recorded with Dymitri Kleiner[4], we asked him how he saw
> the economic future of Libre design. He explained us that there is no other
> option than to own the beer company you design for. His arguments were
> convincing, but we are not too sure it is the kind of practice we are ready
> for ;-)
> Looking forward to the coming days of discussion!
> Femke
> [1] http://www.ospublish.constantzw.org
> [2] http://www.ospublish.constantzw.org/works
> [3] http://www.libregraphicsmeeting.org
> [4]
> http://ospublish.constantvzw.org/conversation/why-you-should-own-the-beer-company-you-design-for
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