Last day of the campaign! Second milestone unlocked! Let's keep it up!

    | tags: campaign finale

    Well, we're on the last day of our campaign! I'm excited to say that on our second to last day you all pulled off some incredible things, which means that the second funding milestone is now unlocked! This puts us in a stellar position, but we should keep the momentum going! If we can keep raising money today, things will get even more exciting... more on that in a few!

    But first, let's talk about this incredible thing you all did yesterday.

    Second milestone (60k) unlocked!

    In one day, this community both met the full 10k matching grant and unlocked the second funding milestone in one epic sweep! Let me just say that it's a very strange problem to have where you have to discard an entire blogpost you were about to post about being reasonably close to unlocking the second milestone because by the time you were going to upload it, your community had just blown past the target! But that's what happened.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. ;)

    So, where are we at then, things-we-have-unlocked-wise? Let's take a look:

    First milestone details
    Second milestone details

    Wow, that is a lot of exciting stuff! This is going to be an exciting year ahead in MediaGoblin-land!

    You may also be wondering... What about that donor voted feature? What about that premium hosting reward! Yup, you all have earned both for sure! We'll start looking into the best way to do the donor-feature-voting shortly. As for the premium hosting reward, it would be unfair to get all the way to 60k on the second to last day and then on the last day have you all scramble to get in on the premium hosting. So instead, after the campaign wraps up we're going to close down all the rewards, but in a couple of weeks, we'll make an announcement and reopen donations-with-rewards, but with only premium hosting as the reward option. That'll give us a chance to plan this way out in the optimum way possible for you all, and give you all a chance to actually get in on it.

    So, is that it? What's next? We've still got a whole day left of crowdfunding! Well, first let's look at what the next milestone is:

    Third milestone details

    Holy moly! That is some exciting stuff! It also seems like a bit of a ways away, but it might just be possible after all... we did do an incredible job yesterday, after all, and the last day of crowdfunding tends to be the strongest!

    We don't have to make it all the way to the next milestone for extra cool things to happen, though. Everything additional donated today will make more exciting things over the next year more possible. We are on the verge of making some really thrilling announcements, including looking into the possibility of having multiple dedicated resources on the project. We can't make any promises... how feasible such things are partly depends on how we do today. And even though some of that is extra surprises to come, if you have any doubts about how responsibly we'll use the money, you can judge for yourself... we are totally financially transparent.

    So make us proud... help us make internet history by donating today!

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    PyCon: A Brief Debrief

    Note from Chris Webber: I wasn't able to make it to this year's PyCon due to wrapping up the crowdfunding campaign. However, Deb went, and was able to write this nice recap below. If you get a chance though, I encourage you to check out our campaign page... we are right at the end of the campaign and could really use your help to end it in style!

    PyCon logo

    It was really awesome to catch up with people and talk with them about Python and community-building and MediaGoblin at the recent PyCon in Montreal. It finished so recently that some folks may even still be sprinting.

    I saw a super-useful talk on turning your computer into a server that mentioned MediaGoblin as one of the reasons that you would want to do that. This talk is pretty great in that the target audience is the person who is pretty new to managing hardware. If that sounds like you (because it's definitely me) then I urge you to check it out. (Thanks Asheesh and Karen!)

    The other talk I really enjoyed was one about Technical on-boarding, training and mentoring which went deep on how to bring new people in to a technical role. There were some things that we already do here with both our technical and non-technical people, but they made a great point about quickly getting new-ish people to help even newer people. The presenters, Kate Heddleston and Nicole Zuckerman, provided a link for more materials that you may also want to take a look at on their git repository.

    It was truly excellent to hang with the crew from the Rochester Institute of Technology. I found out that some of the students there are using MediaGoblin to host stuff and knew all about our work. Plus, the MAGIC folks had some pretty big news of their own; RIT is going to be offering a minor in FOSS. That is truly a game-changer! So exciting!

    I met some great new people who were interested in our larger work, our SpinachCon work and also people who just like goblin stickers or ASCII art. I gave away loads of stickers, learned some stuff, chatted with folks about legal issues, found my new favorite band and caught a cold on the way home. I'm looking forward to attending PyCon again next year and hopefully, we'll be able to host a MediaGoblin sprint! The PyCon Organizers did an absolutely fantastic job -- thank you!!

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    Financial transparency: where your money goes with MediaGoblin

    As you very well may know, we are currently running a campaign for federation and privacy. The campaign ends Friday, and we're close to meeting our second milestone. Anything you can do to help us out seriously helps a lot.

    To the people!

    But you may wonder... where does your money go? How is your money used? Well, good news! We're revealing our full finances, and I'm giving a full breakdown of how we spent the money we raised in our last campaign. I hope by the end of this post you'll both be well informed about how your money goes to use, and also agree that as in terms of output from your donation, donating to MediaGoblin is a great use of your money!

    So, first of all, here's the file. (Update: this file is waived into the public domain under CC0 1.0, so feel free to use/modify as you see fit!) It's plaintext, so you can open this in any text editor, but it's specifically formatted as a ledger file. (We're using some metadata in there which requires using git master as ledger 3 has not been released yet, though if you remove the lines that look like comments embedded in the entries, they should work fine on ledger 2.) Note, this is not the official record of MediaGoblin's expenses/income. The FSF maintains their own books of MediaGoblin... it just so happens that in order to make sure that I am planning things correctly, I currently duplicate their efforts. The file you're getting here is thus my own records. It may not be following standard accounting practices... this is mostly for my planning purposes. :)

    Also note that for simplicity's sake, the file I've given gives only the money raised during last year's campaign and after, prior to this year's campaign starting.

    Okay! All that said, let's get on to the finances, right? Let's run a quick command to get the full balance::

      $ ledger -f gmg_campaign.ldgr bal
                  $1177.10  Assets:FSF account
                 $50250.90  Expenses
                  $3899.46    Campaign
                   $200.00      Advertisement
                   $440.00      Graphic design
                  $3259.46      Rewards
                   $479.48        Figurines
                    $83.03        Postcards
                   $752.07        Shipping
                  $1620.70        Shirts
                   $324.18        Stickers
                 $40231.36    Development
                 $30481.36      Chris Webber
                  $4500.00      Natalie Foust-Pilcher
                  $5250.00      OPW
                  $5142.80    FSF administration
                   $977.28    Travel
                   $560.45      Chris Webber
                   $416.83      Jessica Tallon
                $-51428.00  Income
                 $-5000.00    Directed grants
                $-46428.00    General donations

    Wow, okay! That's a lot of data. Maybe... too much data? If you aren't familiar with double entry accounting or with the ledger command line accounting tool, that might look confusing. Don't worry, we can break this down step by step.

    Let's start with income::

      $ ledger -f gmg_campaign.ldgr bal ^Income
                $-51428.00  Income
                 $-5000.00    Directed grants
                $-46428.00    General donations

    Why is the income negative? Don't worry, that's normal in double entry accounting, if confusing to newcomers. In double entry accounting, money is never "lost"... it always comes from and goes to someplace. Hence income is negative... the money we're getting is moving initially from these accounts, but since they start at 0, they show up as negative. If it helps, forget there was ever a negative sign there.

    As you can see, there are two sub-accounts under income. There's $5000 that we received for a specific grant... this grant is currently in progress and being completed by Natalie Foust-Pilcher. I'll get to that later. The rest of the money ($46428) we got in is labeled "general donations"... this is money we received in the campaign that is more flexible. Note that I don't keep track of each individual donation transaction in the file... the FSF does that. I'm just mirroring the data I'm pulling down from them.

    Okay, so that's the money we got. Where did it go? Let's look at our assets (money we have) and expenses (money we spent). For simplicity's sake, we'll keep the data we have restricted to one level deep:

      $ ledger -f gmg_campaign.ldgr bal ^Assets ^Expenses --depth=2
                  $1177.10  Assets:FSF account
                 $50250.90  Expenses
                  $3899.46    Campaign
                 $40231.36    Development
                  $5142.80    FSF administration
                   $977.28    Travel

    (You'll notice the combined amount here is the same number as the income we looked at above, but positive!)

    Okay, keeping this at a 2-level-deep structure... this is easy to read. As you can see, we've still got $1177.10 in our account at the FSF as a safety buffer, and we've spent $50250.90 of that.

    That might not be easy to really get a grasp on just looking at in text form, so let's see where that money currently is, in pie chart form:

    MediaGoblin expense breakdown

    Okay! Now that's a bit easier to read. From the chart it's easy to see that the vast majority of money went toward development itself. Actually, if you combine this with travel (ie, reimbursement for myself and another contributor speaking about MediaGoblin or participating in MediaGoblin hackfests), that's over 80% of the budget right there directly to the most important part of the project... developing the project itself! (We'll come back to the development section in a moment... but first let's get the smaller slices of the chart out of the way.)

    As mentioned above, the 2.3% in the "unspent / available section" is the bit we still have in the bank at the FSF. Keep in mind that this is before our current fundraising... we had a small amount left in the bank; not terribly much, but enough to keep a buffer.

    Next up there's the 10% "FSF administration" portion of the expenses. The Free Software Foundation is our fiscal sponsor... they handle a number of things for us, including running the infrastructure portion of the campaign. If we had gone with a proprietary crowdfunding system, we may have seen similarly a 5% slice going into the crowdfunding platform hosting overhead. However, as fiscal sponsor the FSF does much more for us than just hosting funding infrastructure; they also help handle employment contracting, sending out tax forms, having financial stewardship that ensures that the money will be used in a way that's in alignment with their mission, tax deductability of donations, processing Bitcoin donations, and promotion of the project. Other things too that I'm missing, I'm sure. So, 10% seems like a big percentage possibly, but they're doing a lot for us (including basically handling our human resources overhead), and if you consider that this money goes to a nonprofit that supports free software... not bad!

    So the last of the not-directly-development-related slices is the campaign expenses themselves. Let's focus on those details right now, shall we?

      $ ledger -f gmg_campaign.ldgr bal Campaign
                  $3899.46  Expenses:Campaign
                   $200.00    Advertisement
                   $440.00    Graphic design
                  $3259.46    Rewards
                   $479.48      Figurines
                    $83.03      Postcards
                   $752.07      Shipping
                  $1620.70      Shirts
                   $324.18      Stickers

    So, the campaign expenses were 7.6% of the above budget. Of that, the vast majority of the campaign-related clearly went towards the rewards themselves (83.6% of the campaign expenses, but just 6.3% of the actual entire budget). This actually is not bad... I once heard it said that "many crowdfunding people lose their shirts over sending out shirts", and that thankfully isn't the case here... the vast majority of the money we brought into the project got to go into advancing the project itself. It is a big chunk, but not so big as to take away from the project. But yes, you can see that if you'd prefer to not get the goodies that will increase your impact, but at the cost margin here accepting a reward is still perfectly okay if you'd like to do that! (And we can't blame you, we do have some cool rewards.) Shipping did factor in hugely, especially international shipping, which is very expensive these days... as long as you add to your donation when selecting a reward for international shipping though, that should be okay.

    Aside from that, we did put in $200 as an experiment on advertising the campaign on Reddit last year... though we've gotten a lot of our donors from Reddit, I'm afraid I can't say that was cost effective for us (oh well, I guess it's paying back a bit for all the publicity we get from Redditors), and it was only 0.4% of the budget, and a lesson learned. We also paid longtime MediaGoblin contributor and original lead graphic designer of the project Jef van Schendel to do some design for last year's campaign, which thankfully we were able to reuse a good portion of for this year's campaign. Given all that Jef has done for the project, we were more than happy to pay him a bit for this help.

    As for travel, mostly I consider this rolled in with the development section, but oh well, we'll give it its own paragraph anyway. The $560.45 was from a bit of traveling I did promoting MediaGoblin, and the $416.83 was from Jessica Tallon (our Outreach Program for Women participant and lead on our federation work) joining us at our GNU 30th hackathon. This reimbursement also fulfilled a travel grant requirement for our Outreach Program for Women participation.

    Okay, that's all the smaller slices out of the way. On to the big one: development! Note, in this case I don't mean the nonprofit line of "development" which is to say "fundraising" but rather "putting money into the actual development of the project" (whether code or non-code contributions). Anyway:

      $ ledger -f gmg_campaign.ldgr bal development
                 $40231.36  Expenses:Development
                 $30481.36    Chris Webber
                  $4500.00    Natalie Foust-Pilcher
                  $5250.00    OPW

    So you may remember earlier when I mentioned that we had a "directed grant" as a $5000 source of income. With 10% going to the FSF, the remaining $4500 goes straight to development... this work is being picked up by Natalie Foust-Pilcher, who is working on this now. (Actually, since the work is still in progress, not all of it has been yet paid, but for the version of the ledger file I am putting up, it's easier to just account for it as paid than to try to explain some sort of accrual accounting transactions or something equally smart.) The project is to improve MediaGoblin's metadata support and make MediaGoblin more for academic environments and archival institutions. Pretty cool!

    $5250 goes to our participation in Outreach Program for Women. Last year we had an incredible summer with six great internships (four of them women) between Google Summer of Code and Outreach Program for Women.

    There are few things we've done that I am more proud of in MediaGoblin; not only was the output great (this lead to a whole slew of awesome features in 0.5.0, helped kickstart our federation work, introduced us to community member Natalie Foust-Pilcher who is now doing work on our present MediaGoblin-for-archival/academic-institutions, and allowed us to have a massively cost-effective increase in our development productivity, while also expanding our community), I also think it was a morally important thing to do. It did have a personal cost for me... the money spent on Outreach Program for Women effectively came out of my paycheck. But the return on that investment was so great, both productivity-wise and community-wise, that I'm confident in that decision.

    So, speaking of my paycheck, let's get to that last item of the budget, which is by far the biggest item, at 59.2% of the budget. $30481.36 of the money we raised went to me, which paid me to do a whole multitude of things: I was lead developer and primary architect of the project, I did lots of code review, I did a bunch of administrative work, I oversaw all those internships both mentoring and meta-mentoring... I wore a lot of hats. I worked hard, taking very very few days off. (Most weeks were 60 hour weeks, and aside from a few family gatherings around holidays and a couple of sick days, I did not even take weekends off really.) If you consider the over a year's worth of dedicated work I put into the project, and then you actually factor in the time it's taken to do each of these fundraising campaigns, that money was my income for day to day work for a year and a half's worth of work. That puts my income from this project at only about 20k USD per year. That's not a lot of money for anyone in the United States (yes, I am spending my own savings to do this), and as a programmer, especially with the experience I've accrued at this time, I could be making a lot more for a lot less work and much less stress. So why do it?

    I believe in MediaGoblin, and the work we are trying to do here. Both the software itself, but more than that: the things it stands for of user freedom. We are at a critical time, where many people are paying lip service to the ideas of network freedom, but the actual amount of dedicated work going into it is very low. I think we're at a real crossroads right now... on the one hand, people are aware of issues of network freedom, but on the other hand, that's because things are really bad right now. There's a better internet out there that we want. But someone has to build it. If not us, who? I believe we have the right community, the right skills, and we are well positioned in MediaGoblin to make a real and actual difference.

    And we are making a difference. Just look at what the last year has brought us: we got out five major releases, six major projects across those summer internships, not to mention that work on federation has actually begun and is moving forward. And you got me working on the project, at a heavily, heavily discounted price. I'm going to say: dollar for dollar on network freedom development, I don't think you can actually get a better deal than the one you are getting here.

    If any or all of that resonates with you, I'm going to ask: please, please donate. We're working hard to reach our second funding milestone, and we're actually very close when you factor in the current 10k matching grant.

    We work hard to make good use of any money you donate (and, as you see, even helping you know how that money is used). Anything you can give helps a lot.

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    Almost there! Campaign ends this Friday, and we're close!

    Whew! We're in the midst of the last week of the MediaGoblin campaign! As you may already know, we already beat our first milestone. This means we've unlocked the most core and exciting things: federation and 1.0 support. But let's face it, some of the most exciting things happen in the second milestone:

    Second milestone details

    So let's face it... the really exciting stuff happens once we hit 60k. But how do we get there by the end of the week? That doesn't seem like much time!

    How can we unlock aveyah?

    Well... good news everyone! We're a lot closer than we look! You may remember that we have a 10k matching grant which kicks in when we hit 46k... and we're already well over halfway through to meeting the matching goal. That means that as soon as we hit 46k, this magic happens:

    10k magic

    And once we're at 56k, that's only 4k away from our goal. So close! So if you haven't donated yet, now's a great time to do so!

    One more thing. We realize that if we hit 60k right at the end on Friday, that doesn't give people much time to take advantage of the "premium hosting" reward. Because of that, we'll be opening up the premium hosting option (but only the premium hosting option) after the campaign ends... more details will be announced later. If we hit 60k by Friday, that is. :)

    We can do it, right? Let's do this!

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    One week left of the MediaGoblin campaign; three ways to support a better media future!

    Last week of the MediaGoblin campaign!

    Just one week left of the MediaGoblin campaign! Next Friday, the 18th of April, will be the last day of the campaign.

    There's also never been clearer reason for why we need MediaGoblin (and the whole intersections of free culture and free software at that!) to succeed. As you may have seen, Sony did a takedown of the Blender Open Movie project, Sintel, from YouTube. It's not the first time either... there was also a takedown of a Elephants Dream and Sintel remix done by Pitivi contributor Jean-François Fortin Tam. In both of these examples, the materials were 100% free culture, Creative Commons Attribution licensed films. There was no infringement. But the takedowns happened anyway.

    Sintel takedown :(

    This is a symptom of a world where we leave the production and publication of media in the hands of large corporate silos. It doesn't look pretty.

    Luckily, a better world is possible, and you can help make it happen! Here are three great ways you can vote with your pocketbook for a better media future in areas of content authorship, editing, and publication:

    Support Gooseberry!!

    Donate to the Gooseberry campaign by the wonderful Blender folks! After all, it's thanks to the Blender people that we have Sintel, Elephants Dream and friends. We need more of these projects. Support free culture film production with free software tooling! Not to mention that Gooseberry looks like it's going to produce a really cute and creative feature length film, so that's enough reasons for me to shut up so you can give them your money. They also wrote a nice writeup on Why Gooseberry Matters on the Gooseberry blog.

    Support Pitivi!

    Next up, there's the Pitivi video editor, which is also running a fundraiser right now. You may have noticed that video editing in free software is, er, not exactly easy right now. Luckily for us, the Pitivi editor provides a great opportunity to bring user-friendly, beautifully written video editor software to the free software desktop. The Pitivi folks are good friends, and familiar allies. Not only do we see eye to eye on the issues at stake, we use pretty similar technology... we both make extensive use of Python and GStreamer!

    MediaGoblin campaign launch

    And last of all, of course we ask that you donate to MediaGoblin! Once you have awesome media, you need a way to get it out to your audience. As we've seen above, we just can't rely on corporate controlled silos to act in our best interests. This is why we're building MediaGoblin so that it is software that acts for you and your needs... software not controlled by any one group, but out there, decentralized on the net, the way things are supposed to be.

    First milestone (35k) unlocked!

    While we're on that subject, this is a good time to remind you that if you've been considering donating but you haven't yet, now is such a great time to do so. We've got a active 10k matching grant which means that donations are being doubled! We've passed our first funding milestone, but we're even closer than we look on reaching our second... as soon as we hit 46k, the 10k matching takes effect like magic, and we're at 56k... which puts us right near the edge of our second goal!

    So what are you waiting for? There's more clear reasons than ever to join our goblin force and help us build a better internet for everyone!

    goblin force badge for campaign

    First funding milestone unlocked! 10k matching grant!

    First milestone (35k) unlocked!

    Two parts of exciting news today! Part one: we just beat our first funding milestone! Part two: your donation now counts for double!

    Wait, let's take these one by one. Okay, as for the first funding milestone reached... this means that all of this is currently unlocked and successfully funded:

    First milestone details

    And we're now on our way to unlocking all of this:

    Second milestone details

    To make all of this even more exciting, we have also received a 10k matching grant from a generous anonymous donor! This means that all of your donations currently count for double!

    You heard that right! As soon as we raise the next 10k (basically, we hit 46k) all donations given during this period double (to 56k)! Like magic! (Note: we've pushed back the campaign end date by a few days to allow us to take advantage of this and wrap this up.)

    So! There's never been a better time to donate! What are you waiting for... donate and spread the word!

    You rock, internet!

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    The Revolution will be chock-full of non-coders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    MediaGoblin enters the Knight News Challenge

    MediaGoblin on the Knight News Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    node being censored by bot

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

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

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

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

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

    Spying image from the campaign video

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

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

    MediaGoblin campaign launch

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

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

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

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

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

    goblin force badge for campaign

    Looking Forward to the 0th SpinachCon!

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

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

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

    Thanks! Hope to see you there!

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

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