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Friday, November 20, 2009

Podcasts I'm following currently

I thought I'd list the audio podcasts I'm following currently, in case anyone is interested to have some good audio to listen to. My selections are basically comprised of Linux-related shows and Public Radio shows.

  1. FLOSS Weekly

    I only recently started listening to this podcast. One of the hosts is Randal Schwartz, who is a legendary writer of Perl programming books. Each episode of this show is an interview with a FLOSS project or organization. It's a good way to get to know the people behind various free software projects, which is pretty cool.

  2. Le Show

    This is a political satire show hosted by Harry Shearer of Simpsons fame. You know his voice most notably as that of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. He discusses the events of the previous week with a cutting wit and sarcasm. He also employs his talent for voice impersonations(sometimes put to music) to mock and criticize politicians. The show has interludes of music hand-picked by Mr. Shearer.

  3. Linux Outlaws

    A guy from Germany and a guy from England talk about the latest in Linux. They cover the latest software releases and news events, with a special segment covering Microsoft. They're very funny, entertaining guys with reasonable views on controversial topics.

  4. Planet Money

    A discussion of financial news and relevant topics by a few NPR journalists. Their goal is to present complex financial topics in language that anyone can understand. I certainly can. They delve deeper into topics that usually are covered by standard slogans and sound bites in the mainstream press.

  5. Media Matters

    A University of Illinois professor of journalism and media activist named Bob McChesney interviews well-regarded people to discuss media and politics.  He is very liberal. Not MSNBC liberal. Truly liberal. This is a local show on our public radio station WILL, but it's evidently very well-known as a podcast, as I've heard it mentioned by someone who had never been to Champaign-Urbana. Very potent and intellectual dialogue.

  6. Radio Lab

    A most excellent radio show that discusses a particular scientific topic for a given episode in a highly entertaining way. Topics include: Parasites, Choice, Stochasticity, After Life, Laughter, etc.  There's a complete list on the site. The audio editing done on this show is second-to-none, and it makes all the difference. The topics come alive in a magical way as scientists are interviewed about great experiments they've done, fascinating observations, and debunking common myths.

  7. Ubuntu UK Podcast

    As I'm an avid Ubuntu user, it would make sense to listen to a podcast about it. The Ubuntu UK podcast is hosted by the Ubuntu UK LoCo Team, including Alan Pope, who is a fairly well-known guy in the Ubuntu community.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Promoting Free Content

Nearing the end of the OpenCamp event, we discussed the future of OpenEverything and related events. I suggest(ed) that we must first appeal to the most common attitude of most people in order to bring awareness of the benefits of openness in our society.

For example, most people are oriented toward consuming media and acquiring 'things'. If one would like to promote openness in media, create an event in which people are invited to download music/video that is licensed under creative commons.

You set up computers and projectors and speakers in a highly trafficked room to let people play media and allow them to plug in their own storage to download it. People get to fill up their CDs and thumb drives with tons of free music and movies all legally and free. Make sure some impressive music & video is playing to show bystanders that free content can be high quality.


Last weekend Rachel and I went up to Madison, WI to attend the OpenCamp, which was on the 18th of April. It was quite an enjoyable weekend. You can take a look at our pics if you'd like.

Our travel experience itself was rather interesting, in mode if not saliency. We first took a train from Champaign up to Chicago. There is no train from Chicago to Madison, so we rented a Zipcar(a blue Nissan Versa) and drove to Madison. There are a number of Zipcars fairly close to Union Station in Chicago, so it was easy to walk to it.

We stayed with Alnisa Allgood, a non-profit IT specialist in the Madison area who was one of the organizers of OpenCamp. She was very hospitable and sweet to us. She treated us to brunch on Sunday at Iron Works Cafe, which was very enjoyable.

This event was associated with the Open Everything organization, which is a loose organization trying to motivate people to move toward an open society. This means, in general, transparency, freedom, sharing, choice, etc in all aspects of life. The thesis is that when society works in an open way, it works better most of the time. This movement mostly originates from the software freedom movement, and also has influences from the creative commons movement.

It wasn't a very large group, maybe 25 people attended. There were no invited speakers. It was conducted in an "unconference" style. This means we assembled topics and schedules ad hoc, once we got there. Here's what the schedule looked like:

I ran(or at least scheduled) a session on openness in academia and education. We mostly talked over openness in the software used in classes, such as Blackboard(which I am unlucky enough to use in my teaching). We also discussed openness in publication and sharing of knowledge, as well as public policy on using tax payer's money to fund proprietary solutions to public schools' information technology needs. A fellow attendee took some notes on our discussion, as well:

We also had a session on The Pirate Bay, whose founders were recently convicted of conspiracy to infringe copyright. Most of the discussions at this whole event seemed to reduce down to a discussion of what copyright policy should be, and what can people claim to own? Is immaterial property indeed "imaginary property"?

At lunch time we had a walk on State Street, which is the main commercial center on the campus. Rachel and I split off from the group(who had wandered into Chipotle) and ate at a European-style cafe. We enjoyed an Izze drink, a cup of split pea soup, and some cheese bread(referred to as a sun bun).

Douglas Whitfield and Alnisa Allgood did an excellent job facilitating the event, and I hope to continue collaboration and communication with them.

The next day Rachel and I visited Olbrich Gardens, which was a short walk from Alnisa's house, and was quite relaxing. We then drove downtown and saw a bike race going on around the capitol building, and we looked in all the little shops on State Street. A good weekend and much needed travel.