The Revolution will be chock-full of non-coders

    This weekend, my friend Molly de Blanc and I are going to be speaking at LibrePlanet about Nurturing Non-Coders. It feels like a pretty timely topic. The current issue of Model View Culture just published a insightful piece on the treatment of non-technical employees at start-ups and here at MediaGoblin, we’ve been overwhelmed with non-coding help during our campaign. I’d like to take some time to highlight a few of our amazing volunteers and hopefully inspire some potential non-coders to find a project that needs their help.

    Fateh Slavitskaya (of Urchn/Wires for Empathy fame), who is already super-busy with her own 3D animation production work, helped us immensely with the script on our campaign video. She also used her formidable messaging and communication skills to mold our Knight Foundation grant proposal into a cohesive pitch. (See also her own proposal for a free software documentary!) When I say we couldn’t have done it without her, I mean it just would not have happened.

    Free software activist, Laura Arjona created English and Spanish subtitles for our video allowing us to bring the MediaGoblin word to both Spanish-speakers and deaf and hard of hearing community. Plus, she’s been constantly boosting us on social media. She even just gave a lightning talk about getting MediaGoblin into Debian at the Debian Women Minidebconf in Barcelona — another audience we would not have reached without her initiative.

    Speaking of subtitles, we’re also really grateful to Pieter van der Eems who did the Dutch subtitles, Matti Lammi who gave us the Finnish version, Sebastian Riedel who added German, French translations by Mathieu Duponchelle, and Czech translations by digital_dreamer. Folks who aren’t known to us could be sharing the MediaGoblin video with Finnish, German, French, Czech, and Dutch speakers — which is pretty exciting. Go internet!

    Have you ever wondered why MediaGoblin’s stuff has such a lovely consistent aesthetic? It’s because of the work of our dedicated designers, like Jef van Schendel who laid down all the original look and feel of MediaGoblin, Jeremy Pope who has done further design and updated us to a more responsive design, and Nils Georg Heinrich Reichert who (via an internship) has been pitching in on the website design — especially the campaign page. On the video side, Bassam Kurdali (also of Urchn/Wires for Empathy fame!) gave us lots of help with animation direction and advice.

    Socially speaking, we also really appreciate folks like Paul Tagliamonte (and others!) who have blogged about us (you can help too!) and everyone else who’s re-shared on Diaspora or written in with feedback. MediaGoblin won’t succeed if the only people who care about it are the folks writing the code. Or put another way, it takes a virtual village to raise a goblin. Thanks for all your hard work!

    goblin force badge for campaign

    MediaGoblin enters the Knight News Challenge

    MediaGoblin on the Knight News Challenge

    I’m excited to say that MediaGoblin has entered into the Knight News Challenge! For those not familiar, the Knight News Challenge is an excellent grant giving program centered around free expression on the net, particularly in areas of citizen journalism.

    We think we couldn’t be a more perfect fit. Just read the description:

    This is an open call for ideas. We want to discover projects that make the Internet better. We believe that access to information is key to vibrant and successful communities, and we want the Internet to remain an open, equitable platform for free expression, commerce and learning. We want an Internet that fuels innovation through the creation and sharing of ideas.

    This is exactly the area that we’re working on in MediaGoblin, so we’re super thrilled to be applying. If we got this grant, it could really change things for MediaGoblin and allow us to very quickly and efficiently bring the project to the next level and achieve our dream of beautiful, decentralized, user-freedom-oriented media publishing on the internet to life.

    So check out our application! We are totally open to constructive comments and feedback on that page. And if you’re as excited as we are, feel free to give us some applause!

    PS: We’re well aware of the YouTube upload irony. It seems to be a required part of the campaign submission if you want to have a video. Shows just how badly getting MediaGoblin out there is needed!

    PPS: Don’t forget that we’re also running a campaign… If you haven’t supported the campaign yet already, that’s also a great way to help!

    Mad About Government Censorship? Let’s do something about it.

    node being censored by bot

    So you may have seen that yesterday, another news article went live about yet another instance of government censorship on a centralized media platform. Yes, again. This time it’s the UK government and YouTube:

    The YouTube permissions that Google has given the Home Office in recent weeks include the power to flag swaths of content “at scale” instead of only picking out individual videos.

    They are in part a response to a blitz from UK security authorities to persuade internet service providers, search engines and social media sites to censor more of their own content for extremist material even if it does not always break existing laws.
    Irish Times; see also TechDirt coverage

    Seems a little bit too familiar? We’ve seen lots of similar stories on government censorship lately, and of course these extend farther than their intended effects. And it’s not just censorship… as we all know, surveillance is on the rise, as we’ve written about before. (Of course, centralization leads to other problems too, like the entire lights-out-at-once of sites like Google Reader.)

    The kind of broad-auto-censorship that’s being described above with that story with the UK and YouTube just couldn’t happen the same way in a fully decentralized network the way it can ever-so-easily in a centralized network. It’s just a lot more work to send out notices to each and every site operator. Centralized targets are tempting and easy targets for this kind of thing, where punishing even legal activity is simple enough that we might as well, right?

    Spying image from the campaign video

    Does it seem like month after month, week after week, these things keep getting worse? Does censorship and surveillance and a loss of the dream of the by-the-people-for-the-people web really make you… mad? Angry? Frustrated?

    Yeah? Good. Let’s do something about it.

    MediaGoblin campaign launch

    We can rebuild the internet the way it was meant to be. We can take things back. But it’s going to take effort and real work. And guess what? That’s what we’re working on. This is exactly the fight that MediaGoblin is in, the future we’re trying to take on.

    Awareness and speaking to government officials and so on are all good and critical steps. People should be aware of the rights they have and the rights that are being violated. We can and should try to pass laws and make legal movement… that’s critical. But it’s important to remember that even if we pass new laws, these programs were already unconstitutional. They were already breaking our laws and our rights, and there’s no sign that these programs are shutting down anytime soon. We need to build better tools.

    We’re working on these things right now… you can read up all about the kinds of things we’re working towards on our campaign page. If that sounds like it’s a big challenge, it’s because it is. But we can do it… with your help. We have a big community of volunteers, and we have the technical know-how to pull this off. But we don’t have the kinds of huge budgets large corporate silo’ed projects have.

    So, want to do something about the present state of affairs? Something revolutionary? Good! Here’s some ways you can help, right now:

    We do all this stuff because we believe in it. We want to make the internet a better place, and we can do it. But together, we can do it. Become a hero for the internet. Join our Goblin Force by supporting the campaign… you’ll be a hero to the internet for doing so. Let’s do this thing!

    goblin force badge for campaign

    Looking Forward to the 0th SpinachCon!

    If you have been reading our blog for a little while, then you already know we love getting feedback from users. Later this month, we’ll be participating in the first ever SpinachCon, a user feedback event for free software projects. The event will be hosted at a local Cambridge makerspace called Industry Lab the day before the Free Software Foundation’s annual conference, LibrePlanet.

    Like many small and medium free software projects, we rely on volunteers to fill in the gaps where a larger project would just hire someone. We’re not at all opposed to paying more people to work on MediaGoblin. (See our in progress funding campaign, we would love, love, love to hire more people!) But before we can hire UX experts, we still need to improve our current user experience. Enter SpinachCon — it’s a hackfest for users. People try the software, answer a few questions and get a free lunch in return.

    We’ll be joined by Hyperkitty — a user-facing Mailman application, Inkscape — a fantastic vector graphics editor, and LibreOffice — a free office suite. A wide variety of projects and such esteemed company! The event takes place on the Friday before LibrePlanet, so we’ll be welcoming the folks who are in town early to start their weekend off with a nice, easy way to contribute to making free software more awesome. We’ll also be welcoming them with pizza, courtesy of our sponsor, the Open Invention Network.

    Thanks! Hope to see you there!

    (Oh, and by the way, you have checked out our awesome campaign, right?)

    Help spread the word on the MediaGoblin campaign!

    | tags: campaign

    So the campaign is off to a pretty good start! In just half a week we’re over 20% of the way to meeting our first milestone. Of course, we’d love to do more than just meeting the first goal… we get to the really exciting parts of “decentralizing the web” once we hit the second milestone of our campaign. (See the campaign page for details on this!)

    unlock characters

    But we need your help. It seems that people who visit the campaign page seem to have a good chance of donating, which is great! That means that if we can get that message out to more people, all the better chance of getting the funding to pull off some really cool and important stuff!

    Can you help us spread the word? Here’s several ways you can help:

    • Write about MediaGoblin and post the video to your blog or website!
    • Share the MediaGoblin campaign on your social networks!
    • Try to get us in the news! If you can post about MediaGoblin to news sources you think are interesting, that makes a *huge difference*! Let them know that they can email if they want to talk!
    • Tell people you know about the campaign! Showing someone personally or sending an email to people you know who care about these issues really helps!

    Our best explanation for what we’re doing and working on is our campaign video. Embedding the video is now easy! If you have the ability to embed raw HTML in your blog or website, just copy the text below:

    Writing things in your own words is of course always best! But you can also feel free to borrow and modify the following as you see fit:

    MediaGoblin is a publishing system for the web, it can host all your media of any kind (like a YouTube + Flickr + SoundClound + more that anyone can run!). Plus it’s free software, so you can run it and adapt it to your needs. Want to help the project towards federation and privacy features? Check out their fundraising campaign!

    If you’re looking for some images from the campaign, I put together a campaign kit that you are free to use in your blogpost, article, whatever!

    Thanks for your help! As always, MediaGoblin is powered by people like you, and we greatly appreciate your support!

    goblin force badge for campaign

    Video Captions and Translations for the MediaGoblin Campaign

    | tags:

    MediaGoblin Campaign Video: captioned

    The best part of working on MediaGoblin for me is working with our amazing community. I’m regularly impressed by the kind things that people do and the kind of energy we have in the project. That’s usually visible most on the main MediaGoblin project’s codebase, but there are other ways that this becomes clear too.

    Anyway, that’s all to lead into the real topic of this post: we now have captions on the MediaGoblin campaign video! The work on this was done by Laura Arjona, who volunteered to do the work after I sent out a request to the mailing list for help. But Laura not only added English subtitles…

    MediaGoblin Campaign Video: captioned into Spanish!

    She added Spanish translations as well! All super cool. So let’s give a big thanks to Laura for this awesome work!

    But maybe you want to translate MediaGoblin’s video into your own language! If you’re interested in translating, you can look at the example English and Spanish files. You can email press AT mediagoblin DOT org and send me the file, or join our community and contribute in the usual ways. (You can even send us a patch… this website is easy to get up and running!)

    Thanks to our friends over at Pitivi who gave pointers on setting up captions and suggested setting up the thing in the first place. Did I mention that they, too, are running a fundraiser? They’re good friends of ours in the Python + GStreamer + libre graphics space, so check them out if you haven’t already!

    Thanks again to Laura for the great work! And if you haven’t checked out the campaign page please do so… and please donate and spread the word. Everything you do helps!

    goblin force badge for campaign

    MediaGoblin campaign for federation and privacy in 2014!

    MediaGoblin campaign launch

    I’m excited to announce that MediaGoblin has launched our new funding campaign. We’ve got a wonderful new video that I think clearly explains our goals for the coming year… check it out!

    This last year has been really excellent — thanks to your support! We’ve pushed out five major releases, hosted six successful internships through Summer of Code and Outreach Program for Women. Plus, we began integrating federation into the main MediaGoblin codebase and making a general purpose federation library called PyPump.

    Spying image from the campaign video

    We’re not going to stop here! With censorship and spying on the rise, this last year has also shown just how important our work to decentralize media publishing on the web is. And we’ve got big plans to tackle these issues and even work on tools that all sorts of projects can use to improve decentralization on the web.

    So we’re asking for your help. We’ve partnered up again with the Free Software Foundation, and we’ve got a lot of cool things planned: wrapping up federation support and releasing 1.0, adding new privacy features, podcast support, making MediaGoblin even easier to run and deploy!

    unlock characters

    We’re also offering some sweet rewards, and a pixel-art-illustrated list of funding milestones. See for yourself!

    Did I mention that since the FSF is a 5013c charity so your contributions are tax-deductible in the US? This also means that if your employer does contribution matching, MediaGoblin is an option! And finally, for folks who dig our work all year round, we’re set up for monthly donations.

    Anything you can do to spread the word of the campaign REALLY helps! Word of mouth from our supporters is the most effective way to get our message out there, so if you can tell your family and friends, post to your blog or social networks… we’ll be able to build the future of the web!

    Thanks again for your help! You make this possible!

    goblin force badge for campaign

    MediaGoblin 0.6.0: Lore of the Admin

    MediaGoblin 0.6.0: Lore of the Admin banner
    A system administrator reflecting on her work, surrounded by various goblin-computer-interfaces.

    Welcome to MediaGoblin 0.6.0, Lore of the Admin! This release has a lot of cool stuff in it, but we’ve especially added plenty of tools to make things better for site administrators and moderators. (And sites that are easier to administrate are better for everyone!)

    Dropdown menu for administrative features

    Site administrators and moderators have a whole new set of features they can make use of. Assuming you have the right user privileges, you can see these tools from the top dropdown menu.

    User panel for administrators

    You can see here one of the new administrative tools that are built in, a user administration panel. From here a moderator or administrator can take various actions, such as modifying a user’s privileges. We’ve also built in new tooling so that site administrators running more public instances can properly moderate problematic content or even ban problematic users.

    Filing a report

    Speaking of which, it’s now possible to submit reports on media which is problematic…

    Resolving a report!

    … administrators can then view and resolve such reports appropriately.

    Your users might also not know what’s acceptable and what isn’t on your MediaGoblin instance, and of course you want to let them know! As such we’ve included a default terms of service (which can be disabled or changed as needed) based on the Wordpress Terms of Service.

    A long requested feature from system administrators setting up custom sites is a command line upload tool. We’re happy to announce that this release includes such a tool! Check out the command line uploading docs for more info!

    You may also remember that in our last major release we got an authentication plugin system. In this release a new authentication plugin has been added for LDAP! So if your organization runs an LDAP-powered single-sign-on solution, MediaGoblin can now integrate with it!

    We’ve got some other nice features in this release too. It’s now possible to set upload limits per user or per uploaded file. We’ve also upgraded our version of video.js that ships with MediaGoblin. And more! Check out the release notes to get the full scoop!

    Thanks to all who participated in this release: Asheesh Laroia, Christopher Allan Webber, Deb Nicholson, Devan Goodwin, Josephine Bartholoma, Lenna Peterson, Natalie Foust-Pilcher, Rodney Ewing, and Sebastian Spaeth! Special thanks also to Simon Fondrie-Teitler for his awesome sysadmin assistance!

    That’s it for this release, but stay tuned… as always we’re working hard! (Can you believe this is our fifth major release since last year’s campaign ended? Wow!) We hope to make some more exciting announcements shortly! And if you’re thinking about getting involved in the MediaGoblin community, please do join us in trying to make the Internet a better place! Happy goblin’ing, everyone!

    Update: We also just pushed out a smallish followup release, v0.6.1. This release is very minor, it just fixes a couple of things with the default terms of service and makes it off by default so we can get a chance to give it more community review. Otherwise, it’s mostly the same release. Happy admin’ing!

    Pump API progress video

    | tags: pump api pypump

    Hey all. Things are busy here in MediaGoblin-land, but we’re making great progress. Since our last update several things have happened, including Natalie Foust’s branch being merged! So administrative tools have officially hit git master. That’s great news!

    But I’m here to talk about a different feature today: federation work, and what’s going on with it. Another one of our outreach program for women students, Jessica Tallon, has been working on this for the last many months. Most of the work initially came on rewriting PyPump into a more powerful and general purpose library for applications making use of the Pump API for federation.

    But Jessica has been working also on integration of federation and pump support in MediaGoblin itself. When it lands, the Pump API should be usable for more than just federation… it’ll also be able to be a general API for writing desktop and mobile applications which connect to MediaGoblin!

    But what’s better than a bunch of words that simply say as such? How about a demo! Jessica has kindly provided a brief screencast showing off uploading media to MediaGoblin via PyPump. Probably only interesting to developers, but if so, hey, screencasts speak louder than blogtext:

    Summer of Awesome Wrapup

    So the summer has come to a close! I’ve written before on the Google Summer of Code and Outreach Program for Women programs we participated in. We had a really great summer… I thought I’d give an update on things. In the same order as our Summer of Awesome post, here’s a recap of how things went:

    Summer of Code projects

    • Aditi Mittal’s blogging media type works, and we are polishing it up before we get it merged into master. Some things still need to be done, but several exciting things came out of her work, including efforts to generalize media types as plugins (which they now are!). We use this new plugin infrastructure with the blogging media type, which now has its own panel and view. More updates to come.
    • Praveen Kumar got his search plugin up and running using Whoosh; efforts will be made to merge and polish up with the present codebase shortly.
    • Rodney Ewing went above and beyond all expectations for the summer. Not only did he finish pluginifying authentication (adding multiple plugins, including LDAP, OpenID and Persona), he helped immensely with code review and did many other projects, like most of the work on the previously mentioned pluginification of media types.

    Outreach Program for Women projects

    • Emily O’Leary worked on various testing tasks: improving the speed of unit tests (merged!), working on a Jenkins testing setup set up for MediaGoblin, and on getting a functional testing setup with Selenium. In the process, we also discovered some issues about how hard it is to get functional testing working nicely with MediaGoblin; many lessons learned!), as well as the bonus task of ticket triage!
    • Jessica Tallon worked on federation support in MediaGoblin via the Pump API. Jessica wrote a wrapup post which can give you some sense of things, but things have continued even after that blogpost was originally written!. PyPump has been rewritten and works really well, can do all sorts of new things! Updating MediaGoblin to include the appropriate endpoints for the Pump API is currently in progress; much work to be done still, but an image has been successfully submitted to MediaGoblin via PyPump! Commenting via PyPump works too! This work has been done in a separate branch, but we are anticipating merging these changes with MediaGoblin incrementally.
    • Natalie Foust-Pilcher’s administrative interface work is now in place and pending review. The new admin interface includes new features such as the ability to set the terms of service / code of conduct for a site, the ability to submit reports on problematic users, and the ability to review and take actions on said reports. Great stuff! Additionally, some work has been done under the hood, including a nice new, "foundations," framework for adding default values into the database, and a new permissions/privileges system. All thanks to Natalie’s work!

    Overall it was a great summer. Thanks to the hard work of all our students we are much, much closer to 1.0 than I would have dreamed. The only "downside" after all this is that I have a large pile of code to review and get cleanly merged with mainline MediaGoblin. Talk about problems you can’t complain about!

    Once this happens though, we will have nearly everything needed for 1.0. How cool is that? Talk about summer of awesome, indeed!

    Thanks to all our students mentioned above… you all rock! And thanks also to our mentors: Sebastian Spaeth, Joar Wandborg, Aeva Palecek, and Aaron Williamson (well, and myself). Without you all this summer would not have been possible. Thanks to everyone! And now, onward to use all this summer of awesomeness to make MediaGoblin the best media publishing software ever!

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