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What is open source? Five analogies.

Open source is one of those phrases that gets thrown around, from the Cabinet Office now asking for it in government ICT contracts, to cyber-libertarians saying it heralds the start of a post-capitalist age. But what does it actually mean? And given how much of the for-profit digital world depends on open source - from Android phones to the Safari browser, Facebook’s servers to YouTube’s interface - is it another example of an economy wanting something for nothing?

In simple terms, an Open Source License allows people to view, modify, copy and share computer code, usually without restriction. To understand what that means in practice, it’s helpful to use five analogies:

Transparency: a car. 

An open source license is like having the right to lift your car bonnet to view the engine. If you use software but can’t see what it’s doing behind the scenes, then it’s impossible to know what it’s doing with your data or even if it’s secure. By making code viewable by all, it’s much easier to spot and fix security flaws and bugs, which is why many cryptographic and encryption standards are open source.

Modification: a house

Open source is like buying a house and being free to decorate it however you want, to build extensions or demolish walls. Closed source software strictly limits what you can do with it.

Accumulative: DNA

Like a genome that keeps evolving, or the way academia builds upon prior knowledge, open source is a way of ‘standing on the shoulder of giants’, by building on what exists, rather than starting from scratch. This applies to everything from coding languages to design elements, which can develop in an accumulative way, with anyone free to improve on the work of those previously.

Collaborative: a coop 

Like a co-op, but without membership. While code authors may still own copyright on their code, by providing an open license, assets are kept public and the user community can offer improvements, fixes, language translations, design improvements, documentation and so on. Eric S Raymond describes open source development as “a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches out of which a coherent and stable system could seemingly emerge only by a succession of miracles”.

Democratic: a landslide 

Like a democracy where anyone can setup their own country if they don’t like the leader. Open Source projects have core maintainers who have final say over the suggestions and contributions from the user community but if they aren’t responsive, people can ‘fork’ the software and build their own ‘branch’. The content management system Joomla, for instance, was forked from Mambo, after its owners started charging developers big fees.


For the non-profit, coop or social enterprise sectors these principles dovetail with many values, and offer advantages. For the profit-world however, open source’s freedom around IP has created much debate about its strengths and weaknesses, with critics - and some companies whose models are threatened - saying open source projects offer worse support and less-developed user interface and documentation. In reality there’s a huge range in quality and business models - from a content system like Wordpress that powers 23% of the world’s websites (and made $45m in 2012) - to Wikipedia, where the ability for anyone to contribute is perhaps both its great strength and weakness .

What needs to be remembered, as the creator of the main open source license Richard Stallman says, is that it’s freedom as in ‘free speech’, but not necessarily ‘free lunch’. Some open source companies turnover hundreds of millions a year, and charge thousands for a user-license and support, while others depend on donations and goodwill. The community has depended on new business models, from crowdfunding (which helped build Facebook alternative Diaspora) to licensing features in the way Mozilla Firefox sells their default search box to Google.

Perhaps the most interesting part about open source is the contradiction woven into it’s heart: where it can be viewed as the idealogical end-point of both communism and of liberalism: it’s both both anti-private-property and anti-centralisation - yet it powers the hugely profitable private,and monopolistic digital economy. Either because of swimming against the current of free market capitalism - or in spite of - it’s proven remarkably successful at getting disparate groups of people who’ve often never met to collaborate on building something that no-one fully owns, but that frequently solves technical and engineering problems better than either the market or the state. 

And for that alone it deserves some attention.


Tips to Snapping Brighter Pictures

Some very important occasions in your life only comes ones and that's all. Such happening like your wedding, high school graduation party, a trip to a far country or an abnormal happening that you happen to witness are things you will never love to forget. One important thing that is of great important to help you record such occasions is a camera.

Now, with a camera in hand, the next thing that you should never compromise is the quality of the picture shot during these wonderful moments. To guarantee quality shots, pause a bit and relax as I take you through some tips to snapping brighter picture.


Top 5 Film & Video Production Career Opportunities

Ever wonder which career opportunities you could pursue with a film and video production degree? Finding a job with great benefits and ideal growth opportunities is important to most people who get a degree in Film & Video Production. Here are five of the top career choices for film and video production professionals.

1. Motion Picture Camera Operator - This career choice could be perfect for you if you enjoy capturing images that tell a story. A motion picture camera operator will often film movies, but also could work on television shows and commercials. This dynamic career is ideal for detail-oriented people who strive to achieve at an above-average level. A motion picture camera operator could pursue employment opportunities in production companies.


Top 5 Roto Software reviewed


From LazyFilm:

There are only two things that can make any motion graphic artist flinch and that's rotoscoping and chroma keying. Why? Mainly because both processes are time consuming and arm numbing. However despite all these, rotoscoping and chroma keying still remains to be very important in the industry we move in. Which is why, lately, software companies are launching new products that aim to lessen the pain in rotoscoping.

Here we will talk about the Top 5 best rotoscoping softwares currently available that deliver accurate and fast mattes.


Making a Film in 48 hours - easy!


It’s not often that you hear a director ask an actor, “Can we get a few grunts from you? Can you just get that grunting? Okay, now how about some heavy breathing? And where’s Zombie Number Two? We need you!” So begins a hectic day of filming a five-minute thriller for the Sci-Fi-London 48-hour Film Challenge.  

Director Vicki Psarias , who won last year’s 4Talent Best Filmmaker award, is asking actor Chris Rogers – playing “a strange man” – to re-record some sound. The planes flying overhead, the dismal weather and the lack of a sound monitor have made things a little more difficult than usual. The team only have a few more hours to shoot out in the forest by Barnes station in south-west London, as the next day will be devoted to editing.


From Razor Blade to Desktop - A History of Video Editing


Before editing software was developed and even before there were any edit suite controllers, video tape was edited by manually slicing it by people using very sharp razor blades.

This was a process known as Kamikaze editing. Early editors also used a microscope, a cutting block, magnetic developing fluid and degauzed (demagnetised) razor blades. For a clean edit, the tape had to be sliced at the video vertical interval between frames. This was found by painting the surface with a special developing fluid, which Ampex called Edivue. This dyed the tape, exposing the magnetic scan lines to the the naked eye.


The Essential Guide to Cannes

Cannes - promenadeAimed at first time visitors, Shizana Arshad and Laura Horowitz at 6 Degrees Film have put together a Cannes Guide containing information on the festival itself, how to submit your film and obtain accreditation along with useful numbers and info...

What do you need to know about attending the Cannes Film Festival? What should you expect? Who gets accreditation? Find out the answers to all of this and more in our Essential Guide to the Cannes Film Festival. 6 Degrees Film will also keep you updated with all the latest information as the jury members get picked and films are selected for competition so check their website regularly:

La Legende de CannesHere's what this guide gives you:

  • Intro
  • Jury
  • Films
  • Submitting a film
  • The Film Market
  • Short Film Corner
  • Attending the festival
  • Accreditation
  • Flights
  • Accommodation - 4% discount to 6 Degrees Film Readers
  • Getting Around
  • FAQ's
  • Useful Information and numbers - including 10% discount on Cannes: A Festival Virgin's Guide book



Defence Nurses to Star in Film

The Defence Medical Services Department (DMSD), part of the Ministry of Defence has appointed iceni Productions to produce a unique Defence Nursing web video project. The year long project will see the Midlands based video production company iceni, filming Defence Nurses across the UK giving a fresh perspective on the world of Nursing within the Military. 


The New Film Distribution: what you see is what you get


Wysiwyg logoAt a time when international cinema and DVD revenues are declining and TV audiences are dwindling, why would a young company spend time signing up distribution rights for all sorts of independent content from all over the world? The answer might elude, confuse or scare many of the traditional media giants, but this is exactly what Wysiwyg Films is doing - and why? Because they looked to the future of content distribution three years ago and saw the internet as the inevitable way forward. For all media. Everywhere.



11 Commandments for Script Readers

Screenwriter and script reader Danny Stack has written up 11 commandments for script readers on his blog. Even if you don't get paid to read, it provides quite an insight into the life of those who write those painful rejection letters. Eg:

7. All Scripts are the Same, but Some are more Samey than Others A lot of scripts follow the generalised style of screenwriting and so-called rules of the game. This can make them feel very ordinary and mediocre, despite one or two promising ideas or glimpses of talent from the writer. However, the never-ending pile of samey scripts will diminish your optimism about ever reading a good script again. Try to remain patient and positive. Good scripts, and good writers, are out there. They’re just hard to see in the crowd.