By Kieran Masterton, October 6th, 2010

Every minute of every day successful, talented, intelligent and often technically brilliant people give up their extremely limited free time to contribute to open source software. In August this year there were 1.2 Million code pushes to social coding site Github. Since 2008 open source operating system Linux has powered over 60% of web servers on the Internet. And, as of today open source blogging platform Wordpress host 13.9 million blogs and have a further 13.8 million active installations of their self-hosted package.

In a post on our blog last week OpenIndie announced that I am to begin work on an open source self-hosted version of our request and screening tool. While in this post we discussed some of the benefits of taking this approach we did not explore in any great detail what open source is and what it means for a project such as OpenIndie. The numbers mentioned above are incredible, people are clearly passionate about contributing to and using open source software, but why is this and why have we decided to release OpenIndie in this way?

First up, what is open source? The term open source has come to mean a number of things but at it’s heart it describes a process of production where the source materials are made publicly available. In the case of my examples and OpenIndie this means the software’s source code is publicly released. However, the term has also come to stretch across many mediums from video and music to knowledge itself with Wikipedia. However, for the purpose of this post I will be focusing entirely on the term open source as it pertains to software production.

Unlike proprietary software there is less specificity in the agenda when developing open source software. There may be many concurrent but differing ideas about the agenda of a given project. Therefore, the emphasis is upon collaboration and democracy during production. Projects differ in terms of how they are organised and the process for contribution. However, all are alike in that you or I are as welcome to contribute bug fixes, original code or ideas as the project creator(s).

As you might imagine this lack of a central impetus can often cause disagreement in terms of a given software’s road map. This is what causes project forks. When a project is forked a splinter group of developers break away with a collective vision for the project. The original project continues alongside the new fork and as a result of their different visions they serve different needs. For example Drizzle is a fork of the extremely popular open source relational database MySQL. Drizzle’s focus is upon providing a lightweight SQL database for cloud applications. I imagine this mission was born out of a frustration with MySQL’s heavier components and reputation of scaling poorly.

So, in a nutshell open source software is code that is produced in a collaborative fashion, with many agendas and distributed without cost for anyone to use. That isn’t to say that open source software can’t be used commercially. There are many models that allow for a business to turn a profit and still open source their software.

Popular Linux distribution Redhat have for many years given their product away while charging for commercial support and training. Likewise, blogging platform Wordpress are successfully making money out of open sourcing their software. Automattic the company behind Wordpress offer two options. First, a hosted solution for ametuer and pro bloggers alike. Wordpress have a freemium model for this option. They offer add ons at an annual or monthly cost such as domain mapping, or advanced customisation. This option is aimed at users looking for simplicity and peace of mind that Automattic are dealing with hosting and securing their blog. For non-technical or first time bloggers this is a great solution.

Automattic’s second option is called and this is their open source option. The same software that powers is released free of charge on their .org website and the code is made available so that anyone can contribute. This balance of open source and commercial means that Wordpress’ future is secured by the support of a commercial entity. However, it means that those contributing to the project are still able to steer its direction and fork the project for their own needs at any time.

It is this model that OpenIndie is adopting. By releasing a self-hosted open source version of the site it means that developers can contribute to the project and the filmmaking community can steer the road map for the project. This model will allow filmmakers to take an new specially adapted version of OpenIndie and deploy it on their own hosting package. There will be no OpenIndie branding and filmmakers will be able to skin the install to look exactly like it’s part of their existing site. All data will be stored locally to the installation and filmmakers will therefore have total control over the information they collect. Additionally, filmmakers will be given the option to broadcast information back to the API which will make the film appear in our listings on the site and should help drive traffic to the filmmakers site.

The impetus behind open sourcing our code is as practical as it is philosophical. As a one man development team my impact is limited but with the support of other dedicated developers we can finally begin to iterate on a regular basis and grow OpenIndie into something fantastic for indie filmmakers. Our passion for open source is born out of a belief that many of the greatest pieces of software in the world have been developed in this way and that it is a genuinely exciting opportunity for both us and our users.

Finally, I want to assure current users that this does not mean that will cease to be or will be the poor relation to the open source distribution. In fact will grow as a result of the new features and updates contributed by the open source team. The service we delivered on the 1st of March 2010 will continue and will be improved upon. This decision makes OpenIndie a more flexible, adaptable and in many cases viable option for many filmmakers who want ownership of their data and want to grow a following around their own site.

I hope that this post has given you some insight into the world of open source software and how it powers some of the Internet’s incredible resources. I will leave you with this quote from the creator of open source web framework Ruby on Rails and partner at 37signals, David Heinemeier Hansson:

“My core philosophy about open source is that we should all be working on the things that we personally use and care about. Working for other people is just too hard and the quality of the work will reflect that. But if we all work on the things we care about and then share those solutions between us, the world gets richer much faster.” — DHH

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Kieran Masterton is the Co-Founder of indie film distribution site and a web technologist with over a decade of experience building sites for large media organizations such as BSkyB and Future Publishing Ltd. His academic background is in film theory and practice with a specialism in genre and gender. He works from home in Bradford-on-Avon, England where he lives with his wife Katie.

By Lance Weiler, August 17th, 2010

TCIBR returns with a special podcast featuring Ted Hope (21 Grams, Adventureland) and Katie Holly (producer of One Hundred Mornings ). Topics covered include creative producing, community curation, making films you’re passionate about as well as what it takes to sustain as a filmmaker in today’s changing landscape.

The WorkBook Project is proud to present One Hundred Mornings the winner of the WBP Discovery and Distribution Award. One Hundred Mornings opens Sept 16th at the Downtown Independent Theater in LA and will run for a week. Special thanks to our partners IndieFlix, Slamdance, The Downtown Independent Theater, Cinema Speakeasy, and CineFist.

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Posted in audience audience-building audio award biz biz dev distribution distro interview podcast

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

  • this conference is being recorded – Scott Kirsner THE FUTURE OF WEB VIDEO
    Our guest today is Scott Kirsner a journalist, author and blogger. In our conversation we discuss his new book “The Future of Web Video” More on the book Scott’s blog To listen NOW click the play button below.
  • this conference is being recorded – Nicholas Reville of the Participatory Culture Foundation
    Today our guest is Nicholas Reville, Executive Director of the Participatory Culture Foundation. PCF is a non-profit organization who’s mission is to create tools for broader, deeper engagement with culture and politics. They are working to ensure that the new mass medium of internet TV is open and independent, just like blogging and podcasting. They have a number of… read more
  • TCIBR: podcast – KICKSTARTER
    In this edition of TCIBR we sit down with Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler. Kickstarter is a site that enables people with creative projects to connect with those who are interested in donating funds to make them happen. From software projects like Arin Crumley’s OpenIndie to Mike Ambs’ For Thousand Miles, Kickstarter has an interesting mix of projects in search of… read more
By Lance Weiler, June 26th, 2010

This workshop will take you through the process of conceiving, developing and releasing an app for mobile platforms including the iPhone, Android, mobile web and other platforms. We will take a close look at the process of designing User Interface and User Experience. We will also look at the evolution of human interface interactions and where we are headed. What is the future of mobile devices, including the iPad, netbooks and smartphones. Particular focus will be on augmented & alternate reality design and building immersive worlds and transmedia integration.

For more on Noah Harlan

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Posted in DIYDays NYC biz dev data tech vid

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

By Lance Weiler, June 16th, 2010

In the media industry, gatekeepers traditionally wield extraordinary power over creatives, as they hold artists’ dreams in their hands. This imbalance has led to a bizarre set of standard deal terms and practices that would seem absurd in any other industry. Now that artists have the power to reach their audiences directly, these old ways are obsolete. Before entering the film business, Brian Chirls worked in finance and construction and attended business school. In this session, he applies his “real world” experience to the problem of negotiating with investors, distributors and platforms, sharing stories of deals good and bad.

Workshop: “Who does business this way?!” – Lessons From the Real World

For more on Brian Chirls

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Posted in DIYDays NYC biz dev data vid

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

  • this conference is being recorded – Andrew Baron
    Today we sit down with Andrew Baron the creator of Rocketboom. An early player in the daily videoblog space, Rocketboom launched in 2004. Over 200,000 viewers download Rocketboom daily across a wide variety of outlets. Andrew explains how he created his own daily show and turned it into a self sustaining model that has a staff of six people.… read more
  • Case Study: We Are the Strange
    M dot Strange reports – This was part of a presentation called “Adventures in self distribution” I describe the journey I took with my animated feature film “We are the Strange” From my bedroom to Sundance and beyond and back to my little studio again after turning down Hollywood deals and deciding to self distribute and make my films my… read more
  • Support the monster
    In an interesting experiment FOUR EYED MONSTERS has joined forces with film community site Together they are running a 1 week promotion which started yesterday. The promotion has the full movie running on youTube and for each person who signs up for a FREE account FEM will receive a dollar. In traditional models of distribution this type of… read more
By Lance Weiler, June 14th, 2010

The ubiquitous nature of smart phones and location aware devices means transmedia storytelling can become a local and dynamic experience for the masses. This workshop by Ethan Rublee will serve as a rabbit hole into the technology behind AR and geo-locational platforms. Open source software, some programming gumption, and off the shelf hardware is all that is needed to experiment. Android phone app development will be thoroughly evangelized. Ideas on using local space to connect distant users will be explored. Show and tell includes AR on the Android, hacking the wiimote, anaglyph 3D, browser based AR, video see through head mounted displays, Google Maps api, and more.

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Posted in DIYDays biz dev data storytelling tech transmedia

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

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