Author archive Colin Dodd

Happy Document Freedom Day

Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global grassroots effort  to promote and build awareness of the importance of free document formats in particular and open standards in general.  If you have ever received a document from a friend that your software could not open, then you know the frustration of proprietary formats.  Document Freedom Day promotes open formats so that users can freely exchange their data no matter what software program they choose to use. Complete interoperability is the ultimate goal of those who support open standards.

And it’s not just a matter of convenience. Public documents stored on closed, proprietary formats require citizens to pay twice to access information that already belongs to them, once for the document creation, and again to access them.  There is also the danger of losing the information stored in those formats should the vendors go out of business, or decide that they no longer want to maintain that technology. Proponents of open document formats believe all public information should be stored using open standards accessible to all.

Melanie Chernoff, Red Hat’s Public Policy Manager explains that “Red Hat is committed to open source, open standards and open content. Document Freedom Day is an opportunity to single out  one of these important areas, open standards. DFD promotes open standards in the document space, which is where the average user really feels the impact of proprietary formats.

“We view Document Freedom Day as a great vehicle for highlighting the importance of standards to interoperability and user choice, which reflect Red Hat’s core values. ”

Document Freedom Day is supported by a large group of organizations and individuals, including, but not limited to ANSOL, Ars Aperta,, COSS, Esoma, Estándares Abiertos, FFII, Free Knowledge Foundation, Free Software Foundation, Free Software Foundation Europe, Free Software Foundation Latin America, Funambol, Google, IBM, NLnet, ODF Alliance, Open Forum Europe, Open Source Initiative (OSI), Opentia, OSL, iMatix, Red Hat, Sun, The Open Learning Centre.

The list of DFD Teams is available at:

Bird Song mash-up challenge. Here are the elements.

Now you can help us elaborate on “Bird Song: A cartoon requiem for DRM,” our Digital Rights Management animation.

Below you’ll find links to all of the raw audio, video, and image files you need to proceed with your mashup. Let us know if there are any other formats that might be helpful. All of the elements, as well as the video itself is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license with an open
invitation to use, share and modify as you wish, as long as you share your production, don’t use it for commercial purposes and give us (and those before you) a nod of recognition for getting it started.

As for how it was made, we’ll let the designers speak.

Islam Elsedoudi, art direction and design:
We mainly used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Illustrator for the animation and GarageBand for the music.

All the illustrations were drawn in Illustrator using the pen tool for the sleek drawings and the pencil tool for the sketchy drawings. We then brought them into After Effects and built “sets” in a 3D environment with a camera. We put a light source on the background to maintain realism and texture. The solid components of the piece (bird, globe, leaves, chandelier) were treated to look as if they were painted on the background.

The background texture remained consistent and unmoving, while everything else moved as it would in real space. Some of the more crude animations, such as the line rolling into the record and the bird cage falling were conventionally animated, frame by frame, using Illustrator and and a lot of screenshots.

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Bird Song: A requiem for DRM

Video written by T. Colin Dodd with Islam Elsedoudi, art direction
and design, and Napoleon Wright, sound design and animation.

DRMs are often designed by ambitious, well-funded consortia, with top-notch engineers from every corner of the industry. They spend millions. They take years. They are defeated in days, for pennies, by hobbyists.

– Cory Doctorow, Guardian Unlimited
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sure, it’s probably too early to dance on the grave of Digital Rights Management (DRM), but we can certainly continue pounding nails in its coffin after Wal-Mart drove a stake through its heart this week. And that’s not counting all the garlic, silver bullets, and hemlock showered on DRM recently by Apple, EMI, Amazon, and Universal (not to mention “consumers”). It’s still twitching and gasping, and we may have some zombification ahead of us, but the tipping point is nigh. You can smell it.

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ODF: The inevitable format

In 1999, a scientist wanted to look at some data from soil samples collected on Mars in 1975 by the Viking lander. He wanted to test a theory about detecting the existence of Martian bacteria and microbes–in other words, finding life on Mars. The scientist thought he would find what he needed on a NASA website somewhere, but it wasn’t that easy. The original data had been misplaced, and when the huge magnetic tapes that stored the data were found, they were “in a format so old that the programmers who knew it had died.” Someone finally found a ream of paper printouts propping a door open and humanity’s understanding of the universe expanded a bit more. » Read more