Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

February 2011 Posts

Giving Away the Keys to the Emerald City

Thu, 02/10/2011 - 11:59 -- rprice

In a recent post, I tried to lay out some sketchy ideas about how a visionary writer could create a universe, tell some stories about it, and then proceed to give away said universe, so that others may use it for their own personal gain, thereby increasing the value, and hopefully encouraging others to do the same. With any luck, we could apply some licensing to anything based on this universe that does not penalize people who write fan fiction or derivative works, while still granting some protection to authors - one must eat, after all.

Read My Original Post:Time, Talent, and Vision – the Iron Triangle of Open Source

Just today, I realized one popular example of this model at work... sort of.

Exhibit A: Wicked
In 1900, L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Despite the fact that a blockbuster motion picture based on this story and it's universe was released in 1939, the book was released to the public domain in 1956. I believe this had a lot to do with a far less litigious motion picture industry in the 40s and 50s.

Fast-forward to 1995 when Gregory Maguire wrote Wicked, which has spawned a writing career for the author, as well as the smash-hit Broadway musical. You can bet your ass that story won't be released to the public domain.

In the Wikipedia article about Wicked, there is a line: "the two series are set in similar and internally consistent but distinctly separate visions of Oz". I disagree. I always thought it was a matter of perspective. Showing more than one perspective of a chain of events is a great storytelling tool.

Exhibit B: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Perhaps inspired by the rollicking success of Wicked, and the rising pupularity of Zombies in popular culture (step aside, Pirates and Ninjas), some enterprising chap named Seth Grahame-Smith said "I can make Jane Austen more interesting with Zombies!"

The wikipedia page leads us to believe that the title was actually inspired by someone trying to figure out which classic books were ripe for mashing up. Jane Austen is credited as a co-author of the book, as much of the text is actually pulled from the original.

However, is it also public domain? I don't think so, but I am prepared to be corrected.

Both of these authors have gone on to publish sequels to these books, sell the movie rights, TV series deals, and so on. Is that right? Just because something was written a few years later, does that make it any different than me doing it tomorrow?

I'm going to give this idea a name, just so I can stop dancing around it: Collaborative Universes. Whether the collaboration is welcome or not, and commercial or not, is going to vary based on the situation, but I really want to see what happens when the original author is still alive and incorporates material from the "fan fiction" into his or her own original work.

Example: "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" Was referenced in the film version of X-Men as a nod to an Internet Meme of the same name. But we could have so much more than that.

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How to make Fancy Facebook Pages with Custom HTML

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 20:22 -- rprice

Adding custom HTML markup to your Facebook Fan Pages couldn't be easier. Facebook has made an Application called Static FBML that does the heavy lifting. This short video shows you where to click to make it all work for you.

In order to get the most of your new custom tab, you can set it as the default landing page for "Everyone Else", or anyone who is not assigned as an Administrator to your page. The Wall will still be accessible, but behind your default tab.

If you ask me, this custom app, combined with the ability for you to give multiple users the ability to make posts to the page, is the number one reason to use Pages instead of regular user accounts.

On top of that, there are very few things you can't do with pages that you can do with user accounts - besides, the people who become your fans don't really want to let you in to the inner sanctum of their lives, they just want to get updates from your organization or other brand.

Some links mentioned in this video:

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Urban ReThink (with photo) in Orlando Business Journal

Sat, 02/05/2011 - 08:25 -- rprice

A few weeks ago, I was visiting Cocoa Village, working out of the Ossorio coffee shop with Mike, when I got a phone call from Orlando Business Journal reporter Anjali Fluker. She asked me several questions about Coworking and what I do working out of home, coffee shops and other spaces. I told her some of the benefits of coworking, and a bit about the Urban ReThink project.

Later, I got a call from an OBJ photographer, who met me down at the space last week and snapped a few photos, including one of myself and Anna McCambridge working on laptops.
Ryan Price
I haven't had a photo published in the paper since I was 5 years old. I'm pretty stoked.

Yesterday, this week's OBJ was released, and I read the story - Cool collaboration eats up empty spaces - it starts out by mentioning that three local buildings are using their empty space for Coworking and things that smell like coworking. The story is even placed in the Commercial Real Estate category on the OBJ website. Thankfully, it does mention the Urban Think! Foundation. I think the story also lost something in the translation from the printed page to the website, as far as the layouts and visuals are concerned. I am waiting to see it in print. EDIT: It really does help. It was worth finding a copy, at least for me.

Here's my paragraph:

“Big industries for creative people are growing,” said Ryan Price, 28, an Orlando independent consultant/trainer for website design, social media and marketing. Although he works from home, Price said there are times he needs more company than just his cat, or an environment more conducive to brainstorming than a coffee shop. “We need a great place to work — and these types of spaces provide that.”

For some reason it only mentions Urban ReThink's $300 membership, which is a really tiny part of what we do. It does mention that we will be holding events there, and there is a quote from Craig about "younger creative types don’t like a typical 9-to-5 job".

I'm glad John Hussey's quote includes the fact that his decision to try Coworking came from the tech companies in his building - I always think that is a great part of their story. I'm also really interested to see what Florida Theatrical Association has done over at the Sanctuary. There are currently no performance spaces in Thornton Park - this is really something the neighborhood needs to be considered a first-class neighborhood of Orlando.

When you step back and look at the article, you can tell Anjali is trying to capture something about the larger trend - how John Hussey was able to sell units, how local companies are seeking collaboration, how these spaces are improving the quality of life in downtown.

I wonder how people are reacting to the story - the comments on the OBJ site have exactly one respondent - who is pretty much a spammer. I guess we'll find out as a new wave of phone calls, emails and walk-ins accost us in the weeks to follow. I know the Sentinel Article really helped get some people in the door - the great sandwiches at Virgin Olive don't hurt either.

For the whole story, you may want to check out the OBJ. They do a great service here in Orlando, and this story certainly helps.

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Why I don't own an iPad

Sat, 02/05/2011 - 07:18 -- rprice

Here are a few reasons:

  • You still have no way of installing non-app-store apps, even 4 years later.
  • Only now have we been able to get the mobile data on more than one cell phone provider, which is a default feature in other countries.
  • Apple has been booting GPL apps (or the developers have been removing themselves) from the app store.
  • The Maker Bill of Rights: If you can't open it, you don't own it
  • I can't put my iTunes / iBooks content on other devices, unless they came from Apple, running Apple software.
  • The iPad is designed to be used by exactly one person. Do they expect every member of a family or each employee to have his or her own?
  • ...and many many more. Including one new wrinkle:

Apple responds: we want a cut of Amazon, Sony e-book sales by Jacqui Cheng:

Apple doesn't allow apps to sell content to users unless that content passes through the official Apple ecosystem, where Apple gets a 30 percent cut.

If an app lets users access content that they purchased via Amazon's website, for example, then that same app must also let users buy the same book via Apple's own in-app purchase system. If the app developer doesn't want to use Apple's in-app purchases to sell content, then the app can't access content purchased elsewhere either.

On the one hand, making things easier for users, I can see how you would arrive at this decision. On the other hand, taking a binary approach to it - you're either in or out - is what really boils my beans.

Is there anything better out there? I really haven't tried non-Apple tablets, but this is one very good reason.

When recommending a touch screen solution to a local arts organization, I urged them to get a touch screen PC and develop a website that is optimized for touch instead of getting an iPad,. It ended up being cheaper and easier to develop, including easier for them to lock down, so patrons couldn't use the other apps in their lobby. Also, if they decide they would rather use different software, say Ubuntu instead of Windows, they have that choice, and they should still be able to get support from the hardware vendor.

Are they missing a lot of other iPad stuff? Yes. However, this machine was intended for a single purpose. The iPad is not a one-trick pony, and it comes with a lot of baggage. See above.

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My Urban ReThink Story

Tue, 02/01/2011 - 11:27 -- rprice

One year ago, I was approached by Julia Young, the President of a local nonprofit organization called the Urban Think! Foundation. She was charged with transforming a soon-to-be out of business local bookstore into a Coworking space, event space, and a program to support local creatives. There were hazy thoughts about having a cafe, putting in a loft, and creating a versatile space. She found me because of my numerous blogs posts about Coworking, and my involvement in the local community.

Urban ReThink

I brought in a good friend of mine, Darren McDaniel, who had experience working at a similar space here in Orlando that was eventually strangled by bureaucracy. He had a business plan, several years of experience, and a PhD thesis paper about creating structure for freelancers and other creatives. Darren would be tapped as the Founding Director of the project, code named Urban ReThink.

We put out a survey to the old mailing list from the bookstore, and as many other communities as we could get in touch with. This concept is a bit bigger than Coworking space alone, but it shares values and lots of the superficial things many spaces have. To say this is ambitious would be an understatement. We do have some great things going for us.

The landlord is one of the original founders of the old bookstore, and he had other offers for the space - this is a passion project for him. A few months into this adventure, we found out he will be developing an area of downtown Orlando called the Creative Village - Craig and the rest of the nonprofit board are really committed to making our city better, and they have been invaluable throughout this process. From the big things like the space itself and the renovation, to smaller things like the PR and marketing strategy, and making connections with other organizations and businesses.

Starting in November, we started hosting events - film screenings, a book signing, an interactive art installation, and several holiday parties. These were a great learning experience, as our space is at street level, and on a major walking path to the rest of Downtown Orlando - the weekends are very colorful here.

On January 17th, our cafe partner opened their doors to a torrential downpour - but lunch time still brought in about a dozen people, eager to see their new neighbors. Last week, some furniture was delivered - donated from a local interior design shop - and we invited a few potential community members to start working here. Today was the final straw as the cable company connected the internet and we fired up our wi-fi - no more stealing from the neighbors!

We were lucky enough to be featured in the local daily newspaper a few weeks ago, and now I am told a business journal article related to independent workers will be landing this week - they even took my picture for it.

We still have so far to go - I'm pretty sure we're doing it backwards - the "if you build it, they will come" plan. I am feverishly trying to finish the website (just got the design on Friday) so I can stop answering all my questions via Facebook, Twitter and Email. At the same time, we know we have lots of interest - people wanting to (and already are) holding meetings here, people ready to sign up for memberships, mentors ready to give sage wisdom, and many and more things ready to happen.

In 2 weeks we'll have the start of our grand opening festivities, and who knows what will happen from there?

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/groups/urbanrethink/
News: http://facebook.com/UrbanReThink
Updates: http://twitter.com/urbanrethink
Website (coming soon): http://urbanrethink.com

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