Bram Pitoyo, Interlude, Links

Case Study: Making OakHazelnut.com Read Better [Updated with picture examples]

A blog post on OakHazelnut.com, before and after optimization

OakHazelnut.com is a working portfolio site of Amber Case: an amazing independent journalist, search engine and social media consultant. Her site is one that is a resource to the community, and thus is seen by thousands of readers every month.

However, because it contains ample amount of informations (a typical post weighs in at about 750 words) the site has to be easy to read. So easy that only the text that is absolutely necessary to the content shines, while other materials regress. Add the fact that she publishes an article every two days to this.

Readability and legibility is of further concern because, while the OakHazelnut.com’s ultimate goal is to get more subscribers, most readers still interact with its web interface, or at least use it prior to subscribing.

Objective and Challenge

As a typographer, my aim was to make OakHazelnut as easy to digest as possible. As a publisher, Amber Case needs a vessel that will, like Beatrice Warde’s Crystal Goblet, be robust enough to hold any content that she throws at it.

Right off the bat, I was presented with the challenge that the visual language of the site must stay as similar to the old as possible. This makes sense. After all, OakHazelnut.com has been known to use the same theme throughout its inception, GreenWave, and thus must remain consistent.

This means that tweaking navigation scheme is okay (and even encouraged if it can mimic those of other sites to encourage familiarity) but switching images, color scheme or number of columns around must be avoided, or done very subtly at best.

In addition to this, because the author installed many plugins and changed many lines of code already, shifting the structure of the CSS (ie. reorganizing classes) was not to be done, to avoid breaking the theme.

The many plugins installed at OakHazelnut.com

With these constraints in mind, I got ready to work.

The Four Step Process

1. Standardize Typography

The default GreenWave CSS specifies three different kinds of sans serifs, impeding consistency

The very first thing that I set out to do was standardize the font family used in the site. Many themes rely on using different families to distinguish content. This is fine, but only if done well Blogs have many layers of information that need to be distinguished from each other. For instance, a typical blog page may have:

  • Blog title
  • Blog description
  • Navigation
  • Secondary navigation
  • Blog post title
  • Post heading (h2 through h6)
  • Meta information
  • Body text

And in most cases, using one font family is enough to get the job done.

But if one would choose to use two, this is how one might group them. One font per group.

Group 1

Primary Information, one where you want the eye to go look at first. Ideally, you would be able to simply hover from item from item in this group and get the gist of the blog.

  • Blog title
  • Blog post title
  • Post heading (h2 through h6)

Group 2: Secondary

  • Blog description
  • Body text
  • Navigation

Group 3: Tertiary

Informations to be “read later” (in most cases, one would group them with Group 2)

  • Secondary navigation
  • Meta information

On Choosing Typefaces

Some fonts are better suited for one purpose than another. For example:

  • While Lucida Grande/Sans and Verdana looks and reads well at smaller sizes, it quickly loses subtlety and elegance when set as headlines (Lucida is more resilient.)
  • Helvetica, Arial, Times New Roman, and now Georgia, work equally well at relatively wide range of sizes, thanks to our habit of reading and therefore getting used to it over a long period of time.
  • Trebuchet MS, tend to be used prominently at large sizes but hadn’t found many uses in body text (even though it’s just as readable, this I don’t know exactly why.)
  • Others, like Hoefler Text, Baskerville and Didot, may be unsuitable to be set small thanks to the monitor’s low resolution
  • Others still, like Futura and Gill Sans, comes by default on Mac but never ended up getting used very much (the reason is obvious, for using a font that isn’t installed on 85% of the Windows-platformed systems does not make sense.)
  • Finally, Tahoma is face that comes with almost every computer, and one that I find to be of a fitting use in subheadline situations (the spacing is too tight on smaller sizes, yet the construction does no display subtlety at large sizes.)

Getting Into The Code

View GreenWave’s original CSS file.

View OakHazelnut.com’s CSS file.

Of course, then, even though I was forbidden to reorganize the CSS class and ID structures, I must in some ways put some order in its structure. Right off the bat, I noticed (code shortened to highlight important points):


body {
font-family:Trebuchet MS, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#menu_search_box {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#header_center_text #header_center_body {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#header_title span {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#menu {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_right #sidebar h2 {
font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_right #sidebar ul li {
font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_right #sidebar li a {
font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_right #sidebar ul li ul li {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_right #sidebar ul li ul li ul li {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_right #sidebar ul li ul li ul li a {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left #blog_comm .comm_panel {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left #blog_comm .comm_text {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left #blog_comm #comm_post_form td {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left .item_class .item_class_title_text .date_month {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left .item_class .item_class_title_text .end_title {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left .item_class .item_class_text {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left .item_class .item_class_panel a {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
#blog_left .item_class .item_class_panel a:hover {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}
div#footer #footer_text {
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
}

Notwithstanding the fact that Helvetica and Helvetica Neue should be specified in front of Arial whenever possible, and that mixing two sans serifs is generally not a sound principle to follow, specifying the same font-family set over and over again for very small levels of CSS class is simply redundant.

To remedy this, I did a Find-and-Replace run, deleted all occurrence of “font-family:…” and replace them with:


body {
font-family: "Lucida Sans Unicode", "Lucida Grande", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
}
strong, em, b, i {
font-family: "Lucida Sans", "Lucida Sans Unicode", "Lucida Grande", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
}
h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, address {
font-family: "Lucida Sans", "Lucida Sans Unicode", "Lucida Grande", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
}

These lines of code does much of the same thing that the redundant blocks above do with only the lines that are actually needed to do the job, and nothing more. Much better.

On Choosing Lucida

Note how I specified a different set of typeface to replace the default set that the WordPress theme had. Why did I chose an odd combination of Lucida Sans Unicode, Grande and Sans? And why did fall back on Helvetica Neue, Helvetica and Arial?

Technically, I used a solution from SixThings called “Lucida Hybrid.” Put simply, Lucida Hybrid aims to combine the best of:

  • Lucida Grande – only available on Mac, no italic, renders beautifully
  • Lucida Sans Unicode – available on Windows, no italic, renders beautifully
  • Lucida Sans – available on both platforms, has italic, but the normal weight renders poorly at certain sizes

Typographically, I used the Lucida family because it’s the same face that Mac OS X uses to set the UI texts—bringing familiarity, therefore allowing the typography to disappear and content to shine. On the case that a Window user don’t have this family, the CSS will roll back to Helvetica Neue first, then Helvetica, and, if nothing else is possible to use, Arial. Again, Helvetica and Arial are two faces that computer users are used to seeing.

2. Enhancing Body Text Readability

My next objective is to soup the body text up. GreenWave’s default CSS specified:

#blog_left .item_class .item_class_text {
color:#8a8a8a;
font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
font-size:11px;
line-height:20px;
}

This is the right idea. Any small type on low resolution display must be generously leaded to avoid clumping, and Verdana reads well at 11 pixel. However putting an #8a8a8a (roughly 50% grayscale) color on a white background provides too little of a contrast for such ample amount of texts to read well.

My solution:

#blog_left .item_class .item_class_text {
color:#262626;
font-size:12px;
line-height:20px;
}

On a lit display like a monitor, specifying black (#000) on white (#fff) is too jarring for the eye. I avoided it by using a dark shade of gray. The same solution is used in most books that are printed in slightly tinted, “egg white” paper, because reading a bright white, glossy paper is not easy.

Note how I kept the line-height generous, but increased the font-size by one pixel.

3. Standardizing Behavior

Next, I looked at how the links behave. Notice how, by default, the theme behavior specified light grey for body texts and dark grey for link colors. This is very helpful, but note how hovering at the link does not actually change it in any way. It remains dark grey. No highlight. No underline. Nothing. To aid comprehension, links behavior should be standardized:

  • Every link color inside the body of the blog, if put on top of a white background, should be colored green. This includes regular and meta information links. Exception: Post Titles, because it’s big enough to be distinguishable from the rest of the text.
  • Every link color, if put on top of a non-white background, could be colored white or grey, depending on the needs and color contrasts
  • Every link put on top of a white background, when hovered, should be colored in light green, then underlined. Exception: Post Titles, because underlining a text with small leading isn’t pleasing to the eye
  • Every link put on top of a non-white, when hovered, could keep its color or switch to light green, whenever appropriate and beneficial to page contrast, but they should always be underlined.

4. More Tweaks

The last step is to change more colors, increase more leading and decrease more type sizes. To regular readers, the tweaks are subtly visual at best; but remember: the more readers voraciously dive into the material itself without noticing how the type was set (except on highlighted elements), the more the typography had succeeded.

A fuller comparison of an OakHazelnut.com blog post, before and after typography treatment

Ready To Make Your Site Or Blog Read Better?

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Bram Pitoyo, Interlude, Links

Get Your Name On The Portland Tech Twitter Wiki And Help Evangelize Portland

Let’s say that you’re someone who works in the creative or tech industry, who is new to Portland or are visiting the city.

Actually, let me back up, you could also be anyone who is curious about Portland, and is watching the beat of the city.

You may have visited the city on several occasions. Or you have have just settled in your new place. And you’re looking for a user group, meetup, or a venue to learn something useful. You may start bookmarking events and going to them. Then you meet someone, who tells you that almost all the community member uses Twitter to communicate with each other inbetween the usergroups, meetups and venues.

But you don’t know how amazing Portland is—not yet. All you have is an invitation to join “this microblogging thing called Twitter” and the Twitter username of your newly met friend at the usergroup, meetup or venue.

So your friend says:
“If you’re on Twitter, follow me @JohnSmith!”

But then you ask:

“Sure, but who else should I follow on Twitter?”

And your newly met friend replies:
“There’s about 50 of them that would be perfect for you to follow, but that I can’t think of right now. Can I email you when I get home?”

Here’s the problem: there’s a chance that the email will never get sent, and you may never discover how vibrant the local creative/technology community is.

What a waste of opportunity, right?

But what if your friend can refer to a page that has Twitter handles of all Portland creative and technology community member, along with a short description of who they are and what they do (and even a profile, if you’re that curious)?

Let’s call the page Portland Tech Twitter wiki. And the URL: http//tr.im/ptt

And, lo: you’re able to search for Tweeples to follow based on your interest, and your friend don’t have to blame his inability to recite names of 50 Portland area Tweeple—impromptu!

All we need now is the “50 Portland area Tweeples” bit (which, in reality, is closer to 5,000 Tweeples.) Because Amber Case, Mark Dilley and I couldn’t possibly type all of your usernames, short bios and profiles up.

But you can.

So, could I ask you a favor?

  • Go to the Portland Tech Twitter wiki
  • Edit the page by hitting “Edit Wiki,” and then
  • Add your Twitter handle, name and short description to the list, or correct your description—mostly made by Amber Case and I rather hastily (I try my best to be snarky)

That’s it. There’s even this code that you can Copy and Paste to the wiki edit window to make it easier:

:[http://www.twitter.com/YourUsername @YourUsername] – [[Your Real Name]]
::A short description about what you do, and your day job at [[ThisCompany.com|This Company]]

The goal is so that everyone can refer to the page when they meet someone who is new or curious to the city and its communities, and make it easier for everybody find people who he/she may like to converse with on Twitter or meet in real life. New friendships are thus made. Connections are born. And communities, grown. And everyone leaves the room after the meetup better than when he/she came.

So add your name to the Portland Tech Twitter wiki, won’t you?

And don’t all go hit the “Edit Wiki” button together.

Thank you.

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Bram Pitoyo, Etc.

Tweet: An Apple Alert Sound

Good afternoon,

Last night, when we worked on cleaning up the audio cutoffs from our Hazelnut Tech Talk Episode 8’s interview with Sarah Lacy, we made an Apple Alert Sound.

It came rather accidentally, when, in a desire to test just how well can Audacity’s “Remove Noise” filter works, we apply it to a small segment of the audio.

And now we can introduce to you: The Tweet Sound (right-click and direct download it.)

Instruction: (here’s Apple’s official instruction)

  • Go to Finder
  • Hit Apple+Shift+G or click on the menu “Go → Go To Folder…”
  • Type “~/Library/Sounds”
  • Drop the Tweet.aif file into the newly opened window.
  • Go to System Preferences → Sound

The Tweet Sound should be located on the bottom of the list.

Enjoy!

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Bram Pitoyo, Etc., Interlude, Links

An Interview With Tyler Jackson Of Ghost Toast

On Friday the 9th, Amber (@caseorganic) and I attended Art Comp Live 2008 at Backspace.

Art Comp Live 2008 at Backspace

Joining us were our friends Sarah O’Brien (@moneteva) and Derrek Wayne (@derrekwayne.)

Derrek Wayne, Amber Case and Sarah O'Brien, Pedicabbed On Waterfront

The event was impressive, to say the least, and Sarah wrote a recap more extensive than what I could hope to capture.

But somewhere along the night, an artist caught our attention.

(Note: All images of the artist are

uploaded by Chris Faulkner.)

To my regret, he did not finish his work on time nor win the money prize. But the three-hour that he spent working on the toy showed that he was more than a craftsman.

So we bid him to send pictures of the finished product—

Front View Of Wooden Toy Made By Ghost Toast's Tyler Jackson

Side View Of Wooden Toy Made By Ghost Toast's Tyler Jackson

Back View Of Wooden Toy Made By Ghost Toast's Tyler Jackson

—and then to answer several questions so you, gentle readers, get to know more about him.

Here we go.

About Me:
I am originally from NH but I claim Hendersonville, North Carolina as my hometown because I went to high school there and basically my oldest friends only go back that far. I am the eleventh child in a family of fifteen children (9 boys, 6 girls). I had an amazing childhood and although we were dirt poor I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I moved to Portland in 2003 to finish my degree at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and when I graduated my wife Emily and I just could not leave. We have a great group of friends here and the opportunity to make art was very compelling in our decision not to leave.

Q: How did you came into woodworking?
A:
Actually, I started making wooden toys quite recently. My wife and I had a baby in April and I am already really excited about making things for him. I have done quite a bit of casting of plastic figures in the past, but I really wanted to get away from this for several reasons including cost, safety and environmental impact. I wanted to make something that I wouldn’t mind my kid sucking on. I started messing around with some wood shapes, drew up some sketches and created some characters I liked but I never actually made a wooden toy until the night I participated in ArtComp. Since then I have made several more and I am becoming comfortable with the process.

Q: When you look at a piece of wood, or a dowel, or anything, do you think about what you can build with it?
A:
These things are coming to life in two ways. The first is a very organic process. I have shapes of wood and as I hold and study them something pops into my head. I begin to combine shapes and eventually I have a toy. I sketch out my idea and then I make it. The sketches are not fool-proof. Often things don’t go together like I imagine they will, or they look weird so I improvise a solution.

The second is exactly the opposite of this. I draw a character I like and then find the pieces to make it happen.

Q: Could you send a list of tools you use? How many different sizes of drill bits? How do you get the pieces to fit together?
A:
The tools are developing just like the process, bit by bit. I have a couple tools that are staples of the work. A miter saw, a drill press, a scroll saw, a drill, a dremel, and a nice big vise. Everything else I generally get as I discover I need it. I live close to a Fred Meyer so I often just ride over to their tool section if I need something.

(Below are questions blatantly ripped off Portland On Fire’s)

Q: What are you up to?
A:
I work as an interactive designer for Downstream in Portland although I am definitely a little more dreamy and not quite as anal as most great designers are. Personally, I just make stuff. I have a very short attention span so I am working on like fifteen projects at once, which has its ups and downs.

Currently I am working on three big projects including a series of large-scale photos about a fictional character named Sir Bishop Jenkins (who is stranded on an island with a group of men all of whom are all living beyond death hoping to leave the island). I also just finished writing a children’s book about a wrestler named the Incredible Skull and I am working on the illustrations right now. And finally, I am making wooden toys.

Q: What are your passions?
A:
Art has always been my biggest passion. I have been drawing and making things for as long as I can remember. I like to play sports. I play soccer, basketball, dodgeball, softball and I also run a lot as well as some snowboarding during the winter. I have a lot of energy to expend. I am passionate about my friends as well. They are a very important part of my life and, since I live so far from my family, they are very much my second family.

This may sound stupid, but I am really into the Gabriel García Márquez book, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I read it at least once a year, sometimes more. I probably have read it between 10-12 times. It is one of my greatest pleasures.

Other than that, I am really into my work. It is always nice to meet people or have people tell me that they like my artwork, or want to buy something I have made but I would still be doing it even if no one cared. I guess that’s passion to me, doing something even if its only reward is what you find in it.

Q: Share your thoughts and feelings about Portland.
A:
I love Portland. It is just a great city to live in. I like the size of Portland a lot. I like the fact that I recognize people I don’t even know because they go to the same places, events, and seem to move in the same circle that I do. I like riding my bike, so you can’t really do better than Portland for that. I also feel that politically Portland is well aligned with my personal beliefs, generally open and accepting of people. Plus, the food here is great and I like rain.

Q: How can we connect with you?
A:
I have an online portfolio site, ghost-toast.com, which I am currently rebuilding. It has taken me several months to get it going and I still haven’t finished all of the pages. Being on the computer for my job, I am not very motivated to spend time on it when I am home. This means my site never has my latest work up, which is something I really want to be better about.

I don’t spend much time on the internet. I wouldn’t say I am disconnected, but that’s just not how I spend my free time. To me the computer is a tool just like any other. I use it when I need to for finding reference images or whatever, but when that task is done I am off. There is just so much for me to do that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a monitor.

Tyler’s email is tyler@ghosttoastdesign.com

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Bram Pitoyo, Links, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

pdXPLORE In The Round – Collective Leadership: An Event Review

pdXPLORE #2 In The Round – Collective Leadership

NOTE: As usual, my partner in crime Amber Case used her anthropology observation skills to great effect, thus capturing every important word that was spoken about by the panel.

When: Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Where: PNCA

What It’s About: The five architects and urban planners who envisioned Portland’s future on the first round of pdXPLORE sat down with civic leaders to explore the viability of the projects and ask hard questions—most of them answered very indirectly.

*** BEGIN EVENT NOTATION ***

Please note that, if the person who was speaking is unclear, her position will be designated with a bracket. Also note that, while this notation strived to be verbatim, it skipped a lot of parts that were not spoken clearly.

Moderator – Thom Walters of Corragio Group:
I have spent quite a bit of time in my career moderating. What I can tell you about leadership is the presence of unreasonable thinking. This is what we have to explore tonight. Caveat: do it with integrity, humanity, clarity and respect.

As you all know, Portland has a very compelling growth projection. More than 1 million people are moving (or going to move) to this region. This is a discussion about the design, planning and process around this vision. And this discussion will be an exploration into how design thinking could enter into the process.

I will allot one hour for the discussion. Each designers [there were 6 of them] will pose to our civic leaders.

At the end of this, we’ll open the floor to the audience.

Carol Meyer Reed (designer):
My question will be in three parts. Both residence and visitors really understood the value of the quality of life in PDX. So as we grow:

  • What are your concerns and specific solutions for maintaining and enhancing these qualities?
  • Are there any specific ideas that you see coming from the design perspective?
  • Can growth be good? And how can growth be good for us?

(Civic Leader):
I will answer your last question first.

Absolutely—if we harness the people, and human capital. But it can also be a nightmare—if it doesn’t pay its own weight. The answer to the third question is: that depends. Yes, we have to accomodate those million people. But, by the way, they’re not a million people all coming here. Some are born here.

I think that it will depend most on what we invest in, and on how we understand—in a more sophisticated way—how public capital relate to private cpital. The influx of people moving here looked random, but it’s a predictable product of energy pricing and policies. During the 60’s, there was a real bias toward how investment was made. There were also regulatory zoning and energy pricing.

The challenge now is to figure out what else do we put in the pot? What’s the investment strategy to accomodate these people in a different way? Gas, tax, federal subsidies and public sewers system—those are ways of the past. We need new ways.

To answer your first question: first, one thing we need to do is inverse the system. Let’s state very clearly that we are enhancing urbanities. A lot of times, there’s ambivalence about this. Oregon’s system is about protecting farmlands rather than enhancing urbanities. The former strategy is passive–reactive. What I’m advocating is a more positive, aggressive strategy that asks “this is what we want to achieve as a city. Now what do we need to do to achieve it?”

One part of the solution is systemic. For example: building a structured parking lots. Putting your money into something like that creates different retail and housing areas around it. The other part is these signature pieces throughout the region that is unique the area. Because, keep in mind, this is not just about the city of Portland. There are some real challenges on a lot of areas in the suburbs.

To answer your second question – “What are some ideas that we can bring into reality?”:

  • The first is development of infrastructure and finance tools. Recognize and enhance them. Finance them.
  • Parks, to me, are an essential part of great urbanity. We talk about big ideas. We have the biggest environment protection measure on the country, but it was focused on nature reserves. We have yet to see this with urban areas.
  • Development of trails network of ppl who commute around the region. Transportation network.

So my final answer [to the growth question] is: it depends, you have to invest in the right things.

Carol Meyer-Reed:
One thing that we talked about amongst the five designers was: who do we want to talk to? A lot of times, we preached to the choir. This is great for making ourselves feel good, but how do you deal with people who aren’t the choir?

(Civic Leader):
Two-thirds of our region lives in urban areas. A lot of the development pattern of the last 50 years were very oriented to private realm. I think that the demographic is changing. We are becoming both more urban and urbane.

Also recognize that our region is not very dense. [To facilitate more people moving in] you really don’t have to change the construct very much. You just have to focus them in the right areas to fill. I don’t think that there needs to be very radical changes.

And, certainly, standing still is not an alternative.

Studies have shown that developing new communities at the edge of the town/urban growth boundaries cost twice as much than developing one in the area that we already have.

Rick Potestio (designer):
I have a question to David and Sam. I think Portland is in its defining moment of finding its identity. Our project provides a mean to looking at that. In particular, we looked at how the city itself can not only be the most populous, but also the most dense. We propose a way of reconfiguring our neighborhoods to embody these qualities.

My question is: what changes do you propose to our current system that can maintain our leadership as a city, both nationally and in the world?

Sam Adams:
It all starts with planning for human beings and neighborhoods. And being humble in the fact that ppl are only going to live in neighborhoods that are going to feed their needs and are affordable to their means. Portland has proven that the mixed-use model, combined with density and lots of amenities with robust transit system works.

Our biggest problem is complacency. Emerging analysis says that we can fit our portion of required 20/40 [year plan] density. There are very few changes that we need to made to achieve this, but that wouldn’t necessarily produce the kind of neighborhoods that we sought after. So your projects in putting focus around neighborhoods (mixed use zoning) is a good idea. Being an entrepreneur is key part of this. We have to recognize and use land use zoning and transportation planning. But on this table, there also needs to be people in social planning.

Portland is becoming an older and younger city at the same time. And we’re not used to that. Our plan 30 years ago, for example, didn’t include a school in every district. So when we complain that our schools were closed, jurisdictions can’t do anything about it—because it wasn’t in their plans.

Rick Potestio (designer):
From our study, we learnt that the most dense neighborhood tend to also be the greenest. There are a lot of truly great benefits from having a great mix.

But when we talk to institution like PDC, we see a barrier. Because we saw that there’s no real mechanism in the financial that to enable this. Can you propose to enable this?

Sam Adams:
We don’t start out by talking to a neighborhood about densifying them, we talk to them about what they want. “If you want a Whole Foods or a New Seasons, this is what your traffic will be.” We just went through this last week, planning an upzoning. In some neighborhoods, there’s excitement at what additional customer base will bring to them (we plan to bring 10 story buildings.)

Rudy Barton (designer):
Question for Gil: Portland’s 1972 downtown plan was internationally recognized for its achievement. Vision trumped regulation. What I would like to know is how much will our planning efforts in the next 4 year going to be determined by old methods, and how much of it by new tools?

Gil Kelley (civic leader):
I’m very optimistic about future of our city, because you find an enormous willingness to shape the future in a positive way. I found this fact to be almost universal in Portland. I think that we have everything we can to grow, but we also have to acknowledge where we are.

Portland, for the first time in generations, is looking at its comprehensive plan. For example, Metro is revisiting its 20/40 plan and the state is revisiting its land use plan. There’s a sweet spot here to ask these big question:

  • Where are we going? Where do we want to go? What kind of community do we want in 20–50 years? Who do we want to take with us? Schools, hospitals, partners. What is the roles of neighborhoods in this?
  • How do we get there?
  • How do we know if we’ve gotten there?

This plan has to posit some measurement method. I think we’re doing pretty well. So I just want to say that there’s some big picture planning going on, and part of that is revisiting our design toolbar and coalescing around our big ideas. When I observe the work in this room, a thought emerged: in many ways, you have to realize and design around the natural land forms and weather. And you also have to ask generational questions. We’ve gotten kind of fragmented when it comes to city building. We’ve got an engineering bureaucracy, and have a real struggle even remembering what the land form was. What an interesting idea to think of “what if we retrofit the cities for the next 100 years?” And then you kind of have to think about the building, because there’s a lot of creativity in that. We have to look at building as a design toolkit, and then moving to articulating “what do we care about the public realm?”

Thom Walters (moderator):
What might your thinking be conceptually?

Gil Kelley:
The power of ideas is how this will get traction. The concept of 20-minute neighborhood is one of them. But I think that it can’t just be a conversation between the planning committee. It can’t simply be “we will write our policies, then the world will conform.” We have to make real choices.

Sam Adams:
Innovation to a lot of Portlanders is giving them opportunities and provide for their basic needs. If we want to remain diverse in our income, we need to be accountable in every part of the city’s prosperity, health and happiness. As we look at global warming, we need to ask ourselves first: are we producing enough food/energy for ourselves to be self sustainable? Design has to be built around that.

(Designer):
One of the issues is this: as the cities are changing, what are our planning and design tools?

The creation of public space always happens as a byproduct of negotiation with large big companies. But as designers, we believe that public space is an outdoor living rooms for the communities.

What we’d like to see is that the creation of the design should drive zoning, rather than the other way around.

The current toolbox doesn’t allow this to happen. There’s a recognition about how this public space is crucial to the community. We find that the city, more than simply becoming a place to visit, is becoming a space to live.

Back to the question: do you have any ideas about what mechanisms are needed to do this, and how do we get this and share it to the community? One of our task is to show ppl that dense neighborhood can be be beneficial.

Sam Adams:
We have Conway, Rose Quarter, the Main Post Ofice Site, etc. Keeping those outdoor living room is important. The hard task is to figure out how to have public squares in existing neighborhoods. As a mayor, I would pursue having green space in every community/nieghborhood. We’ve been talking about how the city could acquire the right mix of property.

It’s very tricky, because one person’s green space is another person’s residence.

(Designer):
How do we work ourselves out of this box, to the point that the value of public space/realm is pushed forward?

(Civic Leader):
Economically, it could be proven. It’s just that there has been this ambivalence in Portland history. For example, when the city chose to purchase Mt. Tabor, there was criticism. Just 8 years ago, when Chinese Garden cost $12 million, there was also criticism.

And let me touch on the rest of region again. The city of Milwaukee is rediscovering the Willamette River again. Lake O just opened up street with access to the lake. Tigard wants to build community around Fennel Creek. Fact is, communities across the region are discovering this.

Michael McCulloch (Designer):
Directed to Robert, Alice and Tom: One of our collective agreements was, when we zoomed up to 30,000 feet, we saw a lot of room here. When you look at the map, again, there’s plenty of room. Our agreement is that. So, our question is:

  • Whether or not you can support that?
  • The constituent parts of the plan that has this outline community—can they commit to increase, say, to accomodate 75,000 more people in Gresham, and another 75,000 in Hillsboro, can they hold their urban growth boundary?

Robert Liberty (Civil Leader):
We have physical, environmental and moral obligations. Six reasons:

  1. Policy making and protecting future generations.
  2. Vast majority of growth is not going to the edge. In the first 7 years of the millenium, a total of 200 homes were permanent in that 20,000 acres. A strategy is to recognize what’s already happening.
  3. It costs twice as much to built around the edge. This is not an interesting plan. We need a strategy—a lower cost strategy.
  4. Equity issues. In the 1990’s, we’re pulverized by income. This is happening again today. I’m sure my parents would despair that I was able to buy a house between Division and Powell. We have a lot of poverty increasing in East Portland and West Gresham, we need a strategy.
  5. In our region, the biggest single source of greenhouse gas is driving. What if money that will be paying for gas can be used to make denser neighborhood so people drive less?
  6. We’re running low of freshwater, land to grow food and biodiversity. We have world class land right next to our door. To sacrifice that, I think, is a failure, for our region, the nation and the planet. We talked about amenities in public spaces. This common shared space. We need to spend less resource and money building private space. Any strategy that makes a virtue out of leisure is a strategy that works.

Alice Rouyere:
I love “living on the edge.” You have great access to right rail. I’m a proponent of balance to growth:

  • In-field
    Adapt use of land to growth. We have to come up with creative approaches. One of the things that I think is important is to create adaptable environment. Sure, we’re thinking about design, but we also have to think about the future. We have to create as many connections as possible. For example, this expensive shopping center near Gresham created a wall between the community. On the other hand, I was surprised when plans on some Metro-owned properties were unveiled. It showed 8 story towers built in our neighborhood, and I heard a lot of interest in moving “up high.” As gas prices increase, people are going to spend more time in the neighborhood. How can we draw interest from landmarks like the Johnson Creek?
  • Green space
    As we adopt our design for future generations, we need to think what they can afford. We actually need more product that’s for sale that people can afford. On the trees and green space side of things: we’ve done a great job and made very innovative plans. The challenge now is to come up with cost saving approaches. For example, we’d like to get people to accommodate more jobs in the Springwater Area.

Tom Hughes (Civic Leader):
I work with the city of Hillsboro, so I’ll focus my remarks on what we’re doing in Downtown Hillboro. Our demographics are changing. I think there’s a growing desire for authentic urbanity. I’ve only worked with the city for 3 years, and are struck with how people are drawn to the downtown. We don’t have a limitless budget, but we have made strategic investments that are great draws. Our most recent investment: the Old Town Theater. It was just brought back to life a month ago.

The neat thing is, suburbia is monochromatic and boring, but downtown Hillsboro is interesting. So I guess the point is: make investments that make downtown more appealing. Can we create enough of a sense of place and identity that developers are going to take the risk of purchasing a condo? The other thing that I want to say is that, I think that Hillsboro community is supportive of nuanced densification. I don’t think we can get 75,000 more people to Hillsboro right now. This is a losing battle, because I don’t think the community will agree. But more and more people grasp that if you want that authentic urbanity back, you need more rooftops.

(Designer):
Does the planning process include the target of x number of additional people, and are you designing the city to accomodate this?

Tom Hughes:
The key thing is market demand. We don’t have a precise number. It’s one thing to have this paper exercise that says that we can accomodate. And it doesn’t have to be highrise, either.

Thom Walters (Moderator):
As a last question, I’ll ask our Civic Leaders to either share a specific insight or opportunity that had started to percolate in the community.

Sam Adams:
It’s great to get the designers together to explore these concepts without politics. I hope that this kind of effort continues, and your work continues. There are only so much money that flows to the region. You ask to see how to do it? Our urban growth boundary should be kept the way it is today. Hold the line. We need to make density be as positive of a force as possible.

Thom Walters:
Designers, is there anything you’d like to share?

(Designer):
A lot of times, “parks” are tightly defined as spaces occupied with soccer moms, kids, dogs—that kind of thing. This is fine, but social interaction in the future is going to occur in places of intersection: like grocery stores—places you don’t expect. It’s a challenge to design those places, and design for a community of people. These places are the stages where these conversations can take place.

Rick Potestio:
I want to point out that design, really, is not just about the numbers, but about quality. And sometimes the quality solutions ares going to be highly unconventional. For example: on the 13th St. we have a plan where we have pedestrians walk in the middle of the street. Hitting the same numbers doesn’t mean that we’re in the place we want to be. I think we need to think about the quality of the design.

We used to have a definition of home as our house and our yard. For many of us today, home may include the city, the corner coffee shop, the tiny little pocket park and the little plaza. These are the spaces that, for those to work, we need quality. Without quality, those rooms won’t get used. We have to design it. You can’t leave it to private developers to design that, because it is a public room.

Thom Walters:
Now we’re going to open the mic to the audience.

(Audience):
I work in the design realm. We, designers and artists, are asked more and more. to design on the “space between the buildings”—this kind of leftover, junk spaces that has often been overlooked. Often, we’ll be asked by stakeholders to “contribute to the vision.” But the reality? The control is on ODOT or PDOT’s hand. Do we really need transportation engineers to control the project? Is there some other method that we can go to?

Sam Adams:
NO.

*** END EVENT NOTATION ***

Technicality: ☝ ½
Translation: Complete understanding of The Timeless Way Of Building not required.

Interestingness: ☝ ☝ ½
Translation: Thanks to indirect answers (to legitimately complex questions), the panel quickly devolved into trite policy-speak. Don’t let this stop you to from appreciating the thoughts and ideas behind this exhibit, though.

What I Learned From The Event In Six Words:
I can has just the facts?

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Legion of Talk – Mark Shuttleworth on Ubuntu & Space Travel: An Event Review

Legion of Talk – Mark Shuttleworth on Ubuntu & Space Travel

Amber Case recorded the entire proceeding, which I helped edit.

Where:Monday, July 21, 2008, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

When: McMenamins Mission Theater

What It’s About: Mark Shuttleworth is both the founder of Ubuntu and the first African to go to space. If these are not enough of a reason for you to attend, I don’t know what else will.

On to the review:

*** BEGIN EVENT NOTATION ***

Tonight, I want to talk to you about two things that I’m most passionate about:

  • Space: life and times of an average cosmonaut
  • Ubuntu

So, who likes to fly into space? I’m going to talk to you about the life of a cosmonaut. What it’s like to actually fly? I’m delighted with the idea that we’re approaching a transition—after which, it will totally be possible for anyone to fly into space.

It’s a difference to see earth from a distance. Everybody I know who had been there had a profound experience.

So, thanks to all the profit I made from those SSLs [laughs], I found a chance to take on this challenge. Of course, this is a way to make my life potentially shorter—but also potentially more beautiful.

Traveling into space was my answer to the question “What’s the one thing you want to do before you die?”

I went to Russia and lived there for a year to train for the travel. It is an extraordinary place. Very different culturally and socioeconomically. Their language is excellent—I would call it a mixture of testoterone and ballet.

The first thing that I did there is cosmonaut medical testing—which everybody hated. I figured that, if I did this, everybody would take me seriously. Granted, after 2-3 weeks of spending my time in there, I questioned my decision [laughs.] But it was worth it.

The training consisted of many things. I remembered getting into a parabolic flight and was asking “where is the spare parachute?” when they answered “here in Russia, we don’t need any spare chute.” There were also the centrifuge training to condition your body to be able to stay alert, focused and functional during reentry. There were simulation of different processes in the flight. There were also survival training, because, you know, when you are in a vehicle that orbits the earth every 90 minutes, you do want some survival training for different situations that you might encounter. For example, when the suit is inflated, it restricts your blood supply. This was why they spent a lot of time tweaking your suit to make it as comfortable as possible.

And there was the final suit test, where they would inflate your suit, put you in a vacuum chamber, then suck the air out of it.

So there we were, 3 guys from Italy, Russia and South Africa.

There were all these activities that serve as a kind of “tunnel” that takes up you to the launch day.

The very scary day was really the night before the launch. That was when I said to myself, “Look, I have proven that I can do this. Now do I really want to do this?

In the morning of the launch, you went through all this tradition. The real irony of this is that it took 2 hours for guys in surgical suits to suit you up, so that the whole world knows that the suit is indeed sealed, then you would go into a bus, stop in the middle of the way, rip your suit off and take a piss on the bus’ wheels. Everybody did it, because the first cosmonaut did it.

This, by the way, was where all the “good stuff” got into the ISS (International Space Station) [laughs.]

The launch experience
You are in this rocket for 2 hours prior to launch. They would wake you up every now and then to check up various systems, but you actually had nothing to do (and probably a bad sleep the night before,) so most pilots slept. Then you have 2 day to live in this module before you dock in the space station.

Life in the ISS was hectic. The station itself had a very busy schedule. Previously, they had 2 guys doing full-time maintenance jobs before they reduced it. We were very lucky because the shuttle that was scheduled to take the ISS crew back to earth was delayed. So we had 3 guys from our crew and 3 from the station. The atmosphere was very collegial.

Eventually, it’s time to come back. Every cosmonaut knows that all the tragedy in the Russian space program happened at landing-time.

This is partly because the reentry was such a physically intense experience, in comparison with the launch. I remember seeing a bolt, like piece of a nut head floating just outside our window. This bolt goes at 25 times the speed of bullet and could easily blow of a part of a concrete wall. We don’t even have a rail gun that can shoot that fast.

Yet I feel like I can grasp it with my hand.

So, as you entered into the atmosphere, the blackness of space goes into orange-y splash of color. Then you see pieces of metal on your ship’s side literally vaporizing. The sight of molten metal running off the window was really terrible. Also, the Soyuz spins around and around. So you have this intense feeling of physicality as this thing lands.

You’re relieved when, after you finally entered the atmosphere, you have this “WHOOSH.”

All in all, going to space was an extraordinary experience. If I do fly again, I would like to take on more responsibilities, or to take Soyuz to new destinations:

Q&A

Watch you wore at the space station, or was given by other astronauts?
There was a long tradition of giving astronaut watches. We got an AMIGA Omega (more specifically, an Omega Speedmaster Professional, thanks to Todd Kenefsky) on earth, so its time got set to GMT, but the Russian guys gave us something else to wear in the ISS, in which the time pointed to Moscow. So you literally get time-tranitioned the moment you dock to the space station. It was, in fact, the fastest time transition ever [laughs.]

Technologies that were involved in the vehicle?
Soyuz essentially had an 8-bit computer which you have to program in Octo. You have procedure that is essentially a series of number. Now, I can say that, from my days of copying software from BASIC, this is a particularly bad way of controlling. What about checksum? What about double checksum? [Laughs.] This was why we checked each other’s calculations frequently.

But, with this system, you’re basically saying: at this time, you point in this direction, then fire this engine x amount of times.

After 10 days in space, one of the experiment that I was part of was to measure that loss of strength and dexterity. You felt like you lose both very quickly during the trip. You felt a lot weaker. It turned out that your muscle was still as strong as pre-flight. They figured this out by measuring the difference between what you can recruit in your muscle (what your brain can get out) and what your muscle can actually deliver. After 10 days, you lose about 25%. It’s amazing. To actually see recruit weakening, it’ll take longer. Because we actually have people living and working in space, they have found and researched several ways to mitigate this. Granted, dexterity loss will happen, and only one lady ever came back with zero bone loss. But it is about the only way to study human in space, so it’s an essential and important research.

Memorable sights, sounds or smell—pleasant or otherwise?
First of all, you have six guys all cooped up in one pod [laughs.] But the sounds were interesting. My distinct impression of this happened immediately after reinsertion. On that moment, there was a period of silence, then suddenly, there was a series of clock noise, *tick tock tick tock*, that kicked in and cut off. So you went from complete silence to this very domestic sounds. Then there was also the sound of the fan, because the vessel have to create its own air circulation.

What’s funny was that, you were expecting all these things to sound “tech,” yet they didn’t.

The smell. The station was new. They put a lot of work based on their experience with MIR and put them into ISS. On MIR, you have fungus going in the panel. You have to actually open a panel, scrap all the fungus to, you know, find the vodka they were hiding [laughs.]

What’s really interesting was that, during reentry—as soon as we open our mask—there’s this warmed plastic and body… Very distinctive sort of smell.

“Oh shucks, I forgot to bring this on the way up and on the way down” moments?
Soyuz is a very simple vehicle to operate, but one of the key switch is a light switch, which unfortunately looked very similar to other switches. Sure, we pass gazillion tests to locate this button. But it wasn’t very easy to locate when the lights are actually off and it’s actually dark.

On reentry, as I’ve mentioned before, you start with a series of explosive switches. Now, it’s possible to do this process manually using a switch that’s located besides that light switch [laughs.] But it was actually only one of several overrides.

Thoughts on building a space station on the moon that will serve as a waypoint launch point to reach Mars? (this was corrected by Jae Stutzman, who asked this question during the presentation.)
The moon is interesting, but I think that we should be going to Mars. There is life on Mars. And that is the single most profound piece of information we can find as a species.

Computer while in space?
The standard laptop at that time were Pentium-166’s [laughs.] So I took a risk and took two relatively modern computers (Pentium III 1 Ghz) into the station. I used them to track heat dissipation and pick up issues with cosmic rays, and they ran with no problem. About two shuttles later, there was a boxful of the same computer that I brought.

I want to go back up there and fix up their IT.

One of the most difficult thing for Crewmember was that there was no private ability to talk with family. Everything has to be monitored and mediated by the control center. In a very cunning move, one cosmonaut installed a piece of VOIP software on the computer, and didn’t tell anybody. There was suddenly a note going around the control center: people’s mood improved so much and crews were happier. Turned out that this was because they had the ability to phone home. The crews used this little ping tool that will give you green, orange and red light. If light is green, you can call.

It’s great, too, because when you call people, they always say “where are you?” [laughs.]

Ecosystem, air you breathe and food you eat. How much is recycled and how much is brought from the earth?
It depends. When we were up there, the water was produced using fuel cell that would fuse hydrogen and oxygen together. We had tons of bags of water. That’s what we were drinking mostly. There’s an air conditioning system and condensation, so you can drink that by putting it through the kettle. So that’s your hot water.

Oxygen is generated from the water. Food is carried up and, despite the general notion, was actually pretty good. There was a competition between the Russian and US crew, on which food gets eaten most often.

Let’s talk about Ubuntu.

After the space trip, I feel that anything that I diverted time to should potentially have a global impact. While I was in Russia, some guys had set themselves up the goal of figuring out how cheaply they can put up computer at schools at a sustainable basis. I read the report and became very intrigued.

The next opportunity came when I was in Cape Town. I was stunned seeing kids using Linux desktop, and using it really productively. So I thought that there was an opportunity to have a global impact by maturing the Linux desktop.

So I ask myself the question: What would move Linux forward in a significant way?

This was 2003. At that time, Linux was really steady. There were two very steady, commercially sustainable companies.

So it struck me as strange that we were only scratching the surface when it comes to free software. We need to find a new way to deliver a free software. And that meant trying to figure out a business model that’s entirely service-based.

I’ve been a Debian developer since 1996. It does a good job. So how could we add to that, and deliver services that Debian didn’t?

So, I thought, we should have a metronome-like, Predictable release schedule.

So we conceived Ubuntu by focusing relentlessly on this piece called delivering. There’ s a real art to the process of delivery.

I had discussion with people from other Linux distros about this. We feel that the process of delivery is a real responsibility.

  • For the user: you have the right to expect something robust, secure, stable and tested—regularly.
  • For the upstreams (the guy at Apache, GNOME, KDE and Linux kernel): we have to try our very best to deliver their intents to the users.

In free software space, in the very first time, we were able to separate R&D with production cycle. We effectively have allowed people to pick pieces of the ecosystem that are more important to them.

But what’s really missing is the execution piece… The delivery model.

So far, the result is very encouraging. So encouraging that I believe that it will be comercially sustainable without changing our business model.

And the real volume is happening emerging markets like India, China. A lot of them buy computer, but what’s surprising is that, up to 20% of them actually leave Linux on their computer. People are beginning to see Linux as “This thing that I can use,” rather than taking the risk of installing pirated windows on their PCs.

And, by the way, people says that installing Linux is hard? Try installing Windows [laughs.]

So, you see, there’s a real room for Linux and Canonical to thrive.

We aim to broaden the mission by having two spaces:

  • Service. This space is a very natural extension for developer to deploy friction-free, rather than having them develop on on CentOS or Fedora. I am very encouraged by increasing interests from serious hard/soft vendors.
  • Mobile. I have no doubt that Linux is a platform for future consumer electronic devices. Sure, we all know that iPhone set the benchmark. But we’re not just talking about that. We’re talking about remote controls, refrigerators, and other devices that you can use at home.

    What’s a little less clear is what the stack gets to be. We believe in X86 for consumer electronic. It’s an open enough church, and Intel had strong enough commitment to deliver that. It’s also very closely aligned with GNOME, our primary desktop environment. The very first version of this platform is going to be released sometime this year. It’s fascinating, interesting, though not yet very crystal clear.

The bottom line: we would have an economic model of delivering high quality, free software without taxing it. And that, to me, is a very compelling vision that makes not going to space again worthwhile.

Q & A

OLPC—what’s your interaction to that?
It was an extraordinary success. It has completely change the way how the industry sees low-cost computing. Before OLPC, it was always a question of “How much you can cram in?”

What Negroponte did was turn it upside down.

The classmate PC that Intel produced wouldn’t happen without the OLPC. The entire category of the sub-notebook wouldn’t happen without the OLPC. And regardless of it becoming a de facto platform, I think it’s a profound success.

How do you determine that Linux usage in China was as high as 20%
We looked at analysis of return, in particular at return after one year of ownership. By this time, you would think that people who switched to Windows will do already.

And yet, they don’t.

These number, in China, was close to 20%. It was a surprising data point. This means that a significant people were very happy with Linux. This is the benchmark that we measure ourselves against. It was a surprising number.

Ubuntu Foundation? Canonical registered in the Isle Of Man?
Canonical Limited was registered in the Isle Of Man, a very tax-lenient region—but we’re a global company.

With regard to the first question: we set aside $10 million into the Ubuntu Foundation. We know how much would it cost just to maintain a regular LTS releases. This is a way that I know that, no matter what happens to me and Canonical, we will be able to release and provide support for 5 years. This was the purpose.

Customer characteristics/market segments?
70% of our business is server oriented. Very surprising.
60% of workers based in the US.

What matter most for us is getting other companies to get successful with Ubuntu. There’s no requirement to interface with Ubuntu through Canonical, but doing it through us is a reasonable way to do it.

Gaming possible on Ubuntu? Game developers? Linux as gaming environment?
There are, I think, two critical ingredients for a gaming platform:

  • Networking, where Linux is very strong at.
  • Graphics, where we’re not as strong.

For gaming on Linux to be successful, we need to focus on casual gamer. I don’t think Linux can compete for a platform for the next Crysis, but we can certainly deliver elements that you need. I wouldn’t be surprised to see handheld gaming with Linux as a platform. Use it as a tool to leveling the playing field. From my perspective, I wold focus on casual gamers. Reach people who are well-paid, smart, and online all the time.

Backstory behind alliteration (Gutsy Gibbon, Hardy Heron, etc.)?
I downloaded all kinds of mailing lists from a bunch of communities, Debian and others. Spent weeks getting seasick in the ocean reading all the messages to try to find people to hire. I finished of in Australia. One guy that I was about to hire talked about calling the release “Worthy Warthog.” I will defend this tradition to the very end, though some people want us to drop the animals [laughs.]

No longer in South Africa?
I want to work globally. Investment in South Africa is very difficult. London is convenient, and it has been quite good to me. I expect to go back to South Africa, but for the moment I’m enjoying seeing the rest of the world from various angles—and attitudes.

Ubuntu sold as boxed products?
Absolutely fine. That’s the nature of the free software ecosystem. You cannot resent somebody else who uses your software in ways that you don’t directly benefit from. I want to see company benefits around the platform. The vision is not to have Canonical “own” it, but to have people deliver it in a lot of different ways and formats. We have some trademark policies, but in a sense, we’re only the custodian of it. We have an amazing community, because everybody feels that he/she has some parts in it. If the shrinkwrapped product gives people—who otherwise hadn’t had the confidence to try free software—to try free software, then that’s great.

Difference between education in South Africa and the US? (Editor’s note: I’m not positive on whether this question was asked verbatim.)
I grew up in a country which was a living nightmare, with institutionalized injustice. So American history was the best way for our teachers to teach us about a system that’s so prone to abuse.

Deal with Microsoft?
I have great respect for Microsoft. I know. This horrifies a lot of people. But we forget that Microsoft made software cheap, accessible and standardized—and in the 80’s, this was the best way to move software forward.

But today, creating free software is the best way. But we still have to win people over, so it’s frustrating to me when Microsoft did something like this: they just signed a deal with South Africa to give out free copies of Windows to use at school.

At one level, it’s frustrating, because it’s a game that’s being played by them. On the other hand, it’s good that kids had access to more technology.

But remember:
Microsoft gives out software because they earn it.
We give out software because we own it.

The amazing thing about free software is that you’re free to explore every one of your interest on; and that, behind every tools, there is a mailing list full of people who are as passionate about the software as you are.

Business Model/Venture Funding?
From past history, I have a VC team in South Africa. People continually express interest in Ubuntu. We haven’t and won’t take VC until we have taken the risk out of the [business] model. Before we take outside money, we need our management team to do the right thing at the right time. It seems like a dangerous thing. This is a reasonable criticism.

But we’ll first establish ourselves as cash-positive. In a very real sense, we will have to choose. Some parts of our operation are already profitable. Some are not. We just choose to have all those parts to have all the grounds covered.

In the next 5 years, we can pick and choose which pieces to turn up and which to turn down to make ours a sustainable business model. We will choose when we become fiscally self-sustaining.

Last question:
When you started off the evening, you said “within our lifetime, space travel will be possible.” A lot of things have changed, things are up and down. What role do you see free software playing in the next 20 years?

In a very real sense, some people thought that software doesn’t matter anymore. To me, this is amazing, because more and more of our lives are actually defined by software. It used to be that software is this thing that you interact in the office. Now, for example, if you look at the iPhone—it’s a pure software experience. Fundamentally, the whole thing is a software experience. The hardware dissolves in the background. Interaction with companies and government becomes possible today, thanks to softwares.

I think that, first, software is profoundly important, and second, it will define how we work.

If so, I think that we need to define how it will shape. And the only way that we could make this happen is with freedom.

*** END EVENT NOTATION ***

Technicality: ☝ ☝ ½
Translation: Half and half. Sure, not everyone knows about Ubuntu and the Linux kernel; but don’t you want to, like, fly into the orbit like Mark Shuttleworth did?

Interestingness: ☝ ☝ ☝ ☝ ☝
Translation: Legion of Tech have outdone themselves again by getting an inspiring character to Portland to share their wisdom for free.

What I Learned From The Event In Six Words:
More inspirations than you can handle.

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