Showing posts with label generalized open source. Show all posts
Showing posts with label generalized open source. Show all posts

Friday, February 3, 2012

open access, elsevier boycott

On his blog Tim Gowers recently petitioned for a general boycott by scientists of Elsevier´s scientific journals.

His reasons I find excellent, as do many others, which has resulted in over 3,000 scientists now signing the petition on

Let´s hope this initiative really takes off. I wrote on this subject on my visual arts blog earlier, and I find it truly heartening to see people taking a stand. Open access and open source can be (in my not so humble opinion) a way to reduce the poverty and the technology gap between rich and poor in this world.

Since society most often has already paid well for the research, it is extremely unfair that important knowledge should not be available to the public unless they can pay exorbitant prices.

We might think that mathematics is an important example (ok, I think so too, a little biasedly...) but consider important medical research, which can directly save lives...!

So open access is the first step, really. And money should not be a dominating force in the dissemination of human knowledge.

the open access logo

Sunday, February 20, 2011

visits to this blog : thank you google & blogger!

yesterday was a strange might remember that just a month ago i proudly posted that my blog had had 100,000 total, over its lifespan of almost 3 yrs.

however, yesterday i had over 60,000 visits (and today so far another 15,000) on one day. all due to the fact that google celebrated the birthday of constantin brâncuşi (19 february 1876). and yes, i posted a few nice photographs of brâncuşi's work that i took in the centre georges pompidou on this blog. these photos rank highly in google image search...(and now things go back to normal, since google's celebration is over)

although i know these effects are typical of the modern web-based society, it still is strange for me to witness it up close. because in real life, as an artist i'm somewhat of a recluse. anyway, thank you google and blogger, for providing people like me with the opportunity to reach many others, outside of commercial and/or hierarchical channels.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

more photoshopped pictures 2

tyres, own work
tyres (own work 2008, click on the image for an enlargement)

the thing is: imnsho an artist needs to receive inspiration from anywhere, everywhere. our encounter with our world (`reality') is a complex puzzle, ever changing, and somehow it is the artist's job to create meaningful interpretation, commentary, beauty, transcendentality even. pretty ambitious, really, so perhaps no wonder this often fails...

[don't let yourself be fooled by all the cheering and back-clapping and genius-proclaiming of galleries and museums...transcendental art is very rare, lastingly meaningful art is rare, good art is less rare but still already a relief...all imnsho of course. this doesn't mean that the work done by artists is mostly in vain, on the contrary. often very consistently hard work is necessary to reach occasional rare levels of art. it's just that we shouldn't try to put everything created by artists on a pedestal.]

House centipede (scutigera coleoptrata)
house centipede trapped in glass (duly released after the photoshoot, own work 2007-2008, click on the image for an enlargement)

[the above image comes from wikimedia commons, where i uploaded it on a free-use license...and lucky i did, because i seem to have deleted this particular edit of the original picture on my own computer...good to find this back-up! like i said i'm still pondering the avenue of uploading much more of my (art and photographic) works on wikimedia commons]

3 days of the condor, own work
3 days of the condor (own work 2008, click on the image for an enlargement)

of course photographing condors is not without hazard...but the picture below was a truly breathtaking affair. with danger to his own life, your photographer was able to capture this contract killer as he left his cab! ;-)

3 days of the condor, own work
contract killer (own work 2008-2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

kunstweek 2009 (revisited, art & quality 16)

last year i wrote this about a relatively new initiative in the netherlands called `kunstweek' (art week):

since about 5 yrs in the netherlands there is an initiative `kunstweek' (art week), which more or less out of the blue claims an election of `dutch artist of the year' (kunstenaar van het jaar).

of course, this has to be a joint effort from `public' (read internet) and `experts'. this year's expert panel contains some 100 names, with ... 0 visual artists among them. i am not joking, but it is all the more funny!

this is just to illustrate my point that artists have been manouvered to a secondary position when it comes to valuation of art. museum directors, journalists, curators, gallery owners, art historians...pull the strings.

can one expect alternative insights from such an election? or will it all be about artists already `discovered' getting some extra gpr...i leave to the reader to guess and smile.

after i wrote this, i immediately got a rather negative comment from the director of this art week, claiming that i had made many mistakes. however, as i pointed out all the information that i used came directly from the website of i got no reaction whatsoever. see my original post with comments

why bring this up? well, again the generalized pagerank (gpr) machine for promoting the art elite is running, and i'm getting emails and other messages regarding `kunstweek 2009' and another election of `dutch visual artist of the year'.

so, naturally, i looked to see if perhaps this year the panel of experts which selected the 90 eligible artists contains any visual artists... this year they say, and i quote literally from (in translation):

Question: can I become a member of the expert panel?
Answer: Yes, you can, if you have a professional relationship with art and you are not a visual artist. The expert panel consists of around 100 museum directors, art critics, art collectors, conservators, art teachers from art college, and other art experts.

well, then please explain to me why my post above was inaccurate?

dear artists and other art lovers, truth has its own particular ring to it. the interesting question then becomes: why is it so unwelcome, the observation that artists are systematically manouvered into a secondary position? why try and deny this?

this is undoubtedly connected to the observation that on the societal level, quality & art are determined by elite positions, which are strongly protected. a reason why i am really happy with the internet and the blog opportunities, because now at least it is possible to voice dissent, and be heard. before internet, also the publishing opportunities were controlled by the elite.

generalized open source. open publishing opportunities. i sincerely hope that this will bring about a change in the art world and outside of it!

Monday, June 23, 2008

world cultural heritage: taking pictures in museums

in several important museums containing critical elements of world cultural heritage, it is forbidden to take pictures. the only sensible explanation for this is that the museum wants to exploit its collection even further by selling photographs in the museum shop.

also, in many of these museums, we are talking about art from centuries and centuries, deplaced from its original country (often robbed/stolen/looted in the days of colonialism).

i find myself increasingly angered by such museum policies.

from what does the museum, which is almost always publicly funded, derive its right to limit access to the imagery of its collection to those fortunate enough to be able to travel to the museum?

you can argue that other people can look at photographs in books, but the point is that most of these works cannot be found in books, or only very poorly photographed.

it is an example of closed source, where money and power motives of a few win out over benefit for all. shame on these museums. and shame on us for letting our legislation permit them to act like this.

Monday, April 21, 2008

quality open source threatens existing elites

sorry to harp on just a litle more. but last week there was some kind of media coverage in the netherlands on wikipedia. the strange thing was that it was largely negative publicity, allegedly stemming from questionable quality, as determined by `experts'.

i'm actually quite in favour of recognizing expertise. as a visual artist, i'm confronted an awful lot with people who do not recognize even the occasional need for expertise - let alone the expertise itself.

however, ever since i discovered wikipedia, i have been very enthusiastic about it (notwithstanding that in certain (limited!)areas of my own knowledge i can see it does leave room for improvement, but this is the case for any subject that one knows more than the superficial about).

one can look up all the arts and their artists - even contemporary-animals, history, science, well, actually it is staggering what wikipedia contains and it is MUCH more effective than the paper encyclopedias in terms of spreading of knowledge. it is open source, rendered freely by individuals who like to contribute to this spreading of knowledge.

in most (99%) cases i find the quality of the articles very very high. especially considering that anyone can change articles, so `vandalism' also has to be corrected. it proves to me that this community-like building does really work. rather than saying that therefore we don't need experts anylonger, i would think: experts, please join the effort and share your knowledge on wikipedia.

this can be difficult at times however, since how to recognize the expertise of the one and the non-expertise of the other? (this is a problem in all the sciences as well - usually resolved by peer reviews (of articles), which also mostly are anonymous, also for obvious reasons but since the authors of articles are not anonymous, this can give strange effects.)

so wikipedia struggles with the same problem that google struggles with, and the arts, and the sciences: quality. i remember from long ago that i was absolutely charmed by robert m pirsigs book zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. (please read these linked articles from .... wikipedia. isn't it absolutely marvelous that i can immediately refer you to a good source describing what i mean? i read the book three times, and reading the wikipedia article i see that it doesn't cover the book as well as it could, but it doesn't do it injustice either.)

robert m. pirsig, philosopher of quality

zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
robert m. pirsig, zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance

however, i also remember finding pirsigs concept of quality ... vague in its definition. but the very fact that he devoted his thinking to its importance was what touched me and still touches me. stuff for the next post.

Monday, April 14, 2008

art & generalized open source (2)

king (1982-2001), wood, iron, plastic - dreamer, thinker, chesspieceking, 1982-2001

just having written about images being publicly available, i was contacted by an image research studio, working for a major educational publisher. they want to use a picture of the above sculpture in a textbook on art for secondary school, in a paragraph where chess-pieces-as-works-of-art are examined.

so this touches immediately on the current discussion. however, (especially since the sculpture has not yet been sold) i think few will disagree that in order for artists to pay their bills, they should ask for some (pecuniary) recompensation for the use of their art work, at least for commercial use.

still, wouldn't one want to give everybody the opportunity to see any (worthwile) work of art, even be it only a reproduction? a less elegant solution is to make available freely (and still restricted by copyright- the necessity of which i will comment on later) only low-res images. this is widely practiced, see most artists websites. better in my eyes would be to have generalized open source: high quality images available freely to the non-commercial public. but then the artists would somehow need to be assured of income in some other sense.

actually, a similar situation occurs in university science - or does it? well, at least university scientists generally are employed by government(-funded institution). their income therefore is mostly reasonably assured. and in this way much of science is paid for out of the public's pocket. but nonetheless, most current science results are not really freely accessible. scientific publishers like kluwer, springer, elsevier etc. charge quite highly for access to scientific articles. but they don't pay scientific authors a dime (really). scientists are supposed to be happy when their article is accepted for publication, since this gives (peer) ranking. as anyone who follows the news can gather, the profits of these companies are often staggering. universities pay heavily to have subscriptions (both for their libraries and for electronic access for individual researchers). the general public wishing to access scientific results which it already paid for, is left with a significant financial barrier.

the moral of this to me seems that closed source gives power to a small number of people (in this sense usually some sort of elite) who are naturally extremely reluctant to `open up'.

and, letting some art cat out of my bag as promised: this seems to describe to me extremely well the situation with modern art and its curators, be it museal or gallerial or institutional.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

is generalized open source the future?

can one envisage a world society in which generalized open source is standard practice?

perhaps i should first explain what i mean with generalized open source. it's a (suitably vague) generalization of the open source approach in software, the interpretation of which is already disputed...;-) . (recognize the tower of babel theme from my starting posts?)

to me `generalized open source' means that knowledge (broadly interpreted) is shared freely. this means that the (knowledge) source of things/products/... is open to all. so in a world with total generalized open source, music is freely downloadable just as art, books, videos, plays, performances, dance, all science, technical designs, software, etc. etc.

time for a long list of objections to such a world? yes probably, but ... does not the idea merit some consideration? how many objections are really insurmountable?

but let me turn to art first -in my next post- , otherwise one might feel cheated in having been attracted to an art blog only to find it's just another philosophy rag... ;-)

open source & images & david hockney

just to not forget that i want to write about `open source' as a way of bringing humanity further.

i as reminded of my thoughts on this because i encountered david hockney's official website. i do not link to it for this reason: on its home page one is asked to agree by clicking a button that no images on the site are to be used anywhere without prior permission.

well, this is taking mistrust a bit far i feel. besides, i hardly think that people wanting to misuse the images are going to be stopped by this button. but it does raise an interesting question about author's rights and copyrights where living artists or recently living artists are concerned.

but i will stop for now, having too little time to write enough, i will come back to this shortly.