Too much on my mind, not enough about what I need to write about

I need to write two papers, but I am having trouble even coming up with topics. I have several attempts, but about halfway through I give up – either because the research is already pretty conclusive and I feel silly writing about it or because I’m just not interested in the topic. I wish I consistently tagged my Zotero items so I could see if there was anything I’d collected a lot about, but I never did get into the habit of tagging in Zotero (partially because many systems insert tags for me).

Anyway, the two classes I need to write papers for are Library Information Systems and Information Storage and Retrieval. I have all day Saturday to work on these, and can take all day Sunday if needed, so I’m not too worried… yet.

Other topics that have been on my mind:

Creative Commons

Several people have posted about Creative Commons and the murky space it occupies between public domain and copyright protected. Since I started my Free Artwork project, I have been thinking a lot about why I might choose different licenses and what it means to buy into Creative Commons. I also have been looking into what Creative Commons detractors are saying, and thinking about ways it could be better. I have to admit, the number of licenses one can apply to work is confusing. Besides the Creative Commons standard choices, there are several others on the website, like public domain, BSD, and GNU-GPL.

I’ve been thinking about the content I produce, and why I produce it, and what license I might want to apply to what content. Certain applications make this easier than others. Flickr makes it pretty easy to have fine grained control over my work, and the new video function makes it easy, for the first time, to find video to reuse. However, that video is still wrapped up in Flash, and since Flickr doesn’t allow downloading of video, the CC license is moot (unless you just want to embed on a webpage, which, frankly, Vimeo and Youtube already cover.) I can CC license my blog content, but, to be honest, I have not found much use for CC licensed text, except to use in displays and such. (Wikipedia has proven enormously useful for displays.)

Windows on the XO

The worst thing ever?Another thing I want to write about is the continuing frazzle on Windows for the OLPC and Negroponete’s statements. I think emotions are running very hot in the whole debate, and I’m afraid the whole project will splinter and fall apart. I really hope development on Sugar continues- though I find the system slow and buggy right now, I still see amazing potential. I love the XO machine, and I love Sugar, and I don’t necessarily believe the two have to go hand in hand- but I think the conceptual aspect of Sugar really needs to fork from the work that needs to be done with power management, speed, etc, on the XO. I installed Xubuntu and it is pretty snappy- as much as I love the IDEA of using Python to create an OS (thereby opening up the possibility to modify on the fly) I just don’t know that it works for a low power machine.

I blogged a little about my thoughts on XP for the OLPC on OS Agnostic before all the recent stuff came up.

Wikis for work

My work has been using an internal wiki (using MediaWiki software) for organization for some time. It’s working pretty well- there are a few people contributing most of the content, but that is true of most wikis. Recently, some professors have started using the wiki for class projects- which is great, but also a little outside the scope of what we set up the wiki to do. So I have been investigating other, lightweight wikis, and have fallen in love with PmWiki. It’s flexible, powerful, and best of all only requires PHP to work. Instead of storing in a database, it stores in flat files. This is good for several reasons- for one, backup is a snap- for another, making a new wiki is as simple as copying a folder and chmoding one folder. I have since started using PmWiki to organize my own life and it has been quite useful. I’m debating moving it to my home server (which, by the way, I have yet to create). I could also run it off my keydrive.

I’ve been investigating other project management solutions for work, and the more I study the intricacies, the more confused I get. I know the folks at the Center for History and New Media use Basecamp for their projects, which I like, but I don’t particularly care for the monthly pay system (it’s difficult to handle through the libraries) and the limit on the number of projects you can set up. $150 a month will get you 50 projects, $49 a month will get you 35 projects. We have been using the open source ActiveCollab, hoping the new version would be bigger and better- but then the new version went closed source. The project forked into a new project, project|pier, but not much has happened with that yet.

Whew! That’s just a little of what has been going on inside my head. The semester ends May 2nd, and May 5th I start on my practicum- which will be implementing a site using Drupal. Plus, THATCamp is coming up in late May, and there’s a lot floating around in my head for that as well.

Off to attempt, again, to come up with a paper topic.

Images: Jeffrey Beall and teemow. (the OLPC illustration is mine)

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4 Responses to Too much on my mind, not enough about what I need to write about

  1. Alice says:

    You are more than welcome to take a look at Wrike. We have per user pricing starting from $3.99. Wrike is alternative to Basecamp and is nicely integrated with e-mail. You can also add free users, who will be able to create up to 20 tasks. We are recommended by, and other media.

  2. karin says:

    In addition to the suggestion above (which does look pretty neat), someone sent me a link through delicious a few days ago to a program called Collabtive ( which is free and open source.

    If anyone has any other project management suggestions, let me know!

  3. Kirsten says:

    Good luck with your papers, Karin. Am having the same sort of difficulty myself right now — just ready for the semester to be over so I can start studying for comps!

  4. A says:

    If you want to grab CC videos on Flickr, you can use the Video Downloadhelper add-on with Firefox.