Our free, open, online culture.

In this post I have some really cool things to show you; it’s all related to the web and what opportunity it holds to the online culture. Rob, the unit leader, gave us a lecture on these concepts, so lets go over what he covered.

To begin, he showed us a website known as ‘The internet map‘. This site was visually incredible because it shows the usage of each website on a map deployed with ‘space like graphics’; each website, in the world, has their own ‘world’ but are different in size depending on how many visitors they get. So we imagine straight away that popular web addresses such as ‘google.com’ or ‘facebook.com’ would be one of the largest. True. The way it has been designed is visually amazing, I like the way that it is portrayed something like a galaxy with the planets emerging as you ‘travel through space’, web space that is ūüėČ

But on a technical side we can see that the developer(s) of this website have somehow managed to collect the data of each website, in the world, and displayed it on a single page. I’m guessing this is an API (Application Programming Interface) or some sort. To explain what API does is a matter of understanding that this technology allows one to collect vast amounts of specific data from another source which specialises in this one area. Go check it out and see what you think.

Here’s a screenshot:

Screen-Shot-2014-03-17-at-10.11.48-PM

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The Internet map (no date).

Available at: http://internet-map.net (Accessed: 10 February 2015).

Rob then went onto the interesting subject of web 2.0, basically explaining the difference between web 1.0 where consumers used the internet for basic information with little user experience on the method of the web.

Web 2.0 on the other hand has grew into a large network as a popular platform to connect many more devices that didn’t exist in the past (smartphone, TVs and so on). The applications available to people are those that make the most use of a specific platform (Youtube, Reddit, WordPress). The people behind the creation of the web applications¬†benefit the greatest because they are delivering and updating the software constantly to enrich the user experience. Their applications get better the more people use it.

People, like you and me, are able to remix this data from multiple sources, we are able to provide the web with our own data and services in a form that enables remixing by others, which in turn, has created an effect on different networks through an well-built participation.

The internet is open (forever hopefully) and using the technologies of web 2.0 we have (the people) the power to participate in this space with no boundaries. There’s a joy of use when surfing the web with it’s social services, simplicity, usability and data-driven standards.

Below are some other things that make web 2.0 great:

web2.0

Moving on, Rob explained to us the power of a wiki. A Wiki, is a piece of social, web application software that allows users to collaborate and modify content including the ability to expand it’s structure, delete content and so forth. So essentially, a wiki is a large database for creating, browsing and searching through information.

A Wiki, such as Wikipedia or WikiMedia, is a type of content management system (CMS). But do not be fooled, this is not the same as a CMS like WordPress, because there is no owner to a wiki.

Wikis have a unique way of structuring information in a way that is implicit; the structures emerge according to the needs of the users. This means one wiki page can be created from multiple authors. Wiki pages may display content that can branch out to other sources of information within the wiki.

A wiki, such as Wikipedia, invites any user to edit any page or to create new pages at the most simplistic way possible in terms of design and user-experience.

So go check it out, a good place to start would be wikimedia.org. And remember, all of the information you see from this organisation is written by people like me and you. It is free, open and powerful.

Here’s a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 00.29.43

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Foundation, W. (no date). Available at: http://www.wikimedia.org (Accessed: 02 February 2015).

Rob then went on to explaining the the ‘Creative Commons Licenses’ where these licenses allow for a more flexible management of the exclusive rights offered by copyright protection. In short, this gives the creators the ability to choose the kinds of protections and freedom that will govern the use of their work.

So lets look at the key licence terms:

  • ATTRIBUTIONS
  • Others can copy, distribute, display, perfume and remix your work¬†if¬†they credit your name as requested by you.
  • NO DERIVATIVE WORK
  • Others can¬†only copy, distribute, display or perform¬†verbatim copies¬†of your work.
  • SHARE ALIKE
  • Others can distribute your work only under a license¬†identical¬†to the one you have chosen for your work.
  • NON-COMMERCIAL
  • Others can copy, distribute, display, perform or remix your work but for¬†non-commercial purpose only.

Combine these terms to create CC (Creative Commons) licenses which in term will allow others to use your work while still protecting your intellectual property. As we can see, this has created a free, shared internet culture.

Using the Wikimedia website, I decided to make a contribution to the community-based UGC platform. I uploaded a photograph I took a few months ago in the Bournemouth gardens. Remember, anything I upload to such a website must be my own work and it can be re-used by others in the community as long as they credit me.

wikiupload

Check it out here!

But here’s a screen shot if you didn’t want to go to the link above:

myphoto

There are also many other social contracts that exist on the web, these include:

  • Free Software Foundation
  • Open Source Initiative
  • W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)
  • And many more.

This website that you are currently looking at has been built  using open source software. There are many more such as:

  • Firefox web browser
  • Git
  • VLC Media Player.

In terms of what open source technologies I have used include:

  • PHP
  • MySQL (Databases)
  • Processing
  • Adobe Brackets (to develop my code)
  • FileZilla (to upload my code files to a server).

OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE POWERS THE INTERNET, LITERALLY.

There is a complete operating system made by users, for users. It is totally open source, a free alternative to Windows or OS X known as Linux. And there are many different flavours that can meet the requirements to a user. The most popular Linux OS is known as Ubuntu which holds a well-known desktop environment.

We can imagine that all major web-servers run on Linux because it is FREE to operate.

Because¬†of the¬†open source model that exists in todays society, we as people, are able to tap a scalable and adaptable innovation structure that is carried outside the ‘garden wall’ of most organisations which duplicate within their structure.

OpenStreetMap

Open Street Map (no date).

Available at: http://www.openstreetmap.org (Accessed: 02 February 2015).

OpenStreetMap powers map data on hundreds of web sites, mobile apps, and hardware devices. Users like me and you are able to input data onto the open source website. This community-driven, open-data website is used by popular technology companies such as Apple,  FourSquare, Mapbox and Craiglist as alternative  to Google Maps.

Here’s a video of Tim Berners Lee on Open Data Mashups and Open Mapping via TED.

Using the OpenStreetMap website, I decided to make a contribution to the community-based UGC platform. I uploaded some data about the Bournemouth University location.

Here are some other FREE, open access, User Generated Content (UGC) websites that you might find interesting:

  • gutenburg.org – FREE e-books
  • archive.org –¬†digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form
  • en.wikibooks.org – Free books such as recipes.
  • opendata.gov.uk
  • okfn.org – Open data content.
  • Open Hardware:
  • aurduino.cc
  • thingiverse.com

Social:

  • reddit.com
  • flicker.com
  • deviantart.com
  • delicious.com
  • 4chan.org
  • zotero.org

So in order for us to make an open architecture collaboration we need:

The correct technologies:

  • Databases
  • “Business” logic
  • Interface
  • Authentication? – This is debatable
  • Security
  • Server/ Operating System
  • Secure Network

The correct people (Stakeholders):

  • Users/contributors
  • Application Developers
  • Backend Development Community
  • Financial Support
  • Socio-political support

So when you look at a typical website such as reddit.com or a wiki, there is a three tier system that holds a database, a “business” logic and an interface.

database

In my next post I will explain more on the concept of databases that “talk” to the sever in reaction to the request form from the client.

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