Out now: Libre Graphics magazine issue 2.2, Gendering F/LOSS


We’re very pleased to announce the release of issue 2.2 of Libre Graphics magazine. This issue, built around the theme “Gendering F/LOSS,” engages with discussions around representation and gendered work in Free/Libre Open Source Software and Free Culture.

We invite you to buy the print edition of the issue or download the PDF. We invite both potential readers and submittors to download, view, write, pull, branch and otherwise engage.

Why Gendering F/LOSS?

In the world of F/LOSS, and in the larger world of technology, debate rages over the under-representation of women and the frat house attitude occasionally adopted by developers. The conventional family lives of female tech executives are held up as positive examples of progress in the battle for gender equity.

Conversely, pop-cultural representations of male developers are evolving, from socially awkward, pocket-protectored nerds to cosmopolitan geek chic. Both images mask the diversity of styles and gender presentations found in the world of F/LOSS and the larger tech ecology.

Those images also mask important discussions about bigger issues: is it okay to construct such a strict dichotomy between “man” and “woman” as concepts; how much is our work still divided along traditional gender lines; is it actually enough to get more women involved in F/LOSS generally, or do we need to push for specific kinds of involvement; do we stop at women, or do we push for a more inclusive understanding of representation?

This issue looks at some of the thornier aspects of gender in F/LOSS art and design. In discussing gendered work, the push for greater and greater inclusion in our communities, and representations of gender in our artistic practices, among others, we hope to add and amplify voices in the discussion.

Gendering F/LOSS is the second issue in volume two of Libre Graphics magazine (ISSN 1925-1416). Libre Graphics magazine is a print publication devoted to showcasing and promoting work created with Free/Libre Open Source Software. We accept work about or including artistic practices which integrate Free, Libre and Open software, standards, culture, methods and licenses.

To find out more about the purpose of Libre Graphics magazine, read our manifesto.

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Libre Graphics Research Unit — Closing chapter

From 22 to 25 May the Libre Graphics Research Unit gathers in Porto and this meeting concludes the two year project.

Hosted by associate partner Manufactura Independente in Maus Hábitos we will present and discuss all work that was developed in the context of the Research Unit: Piksels and Lines Orchestra, Superglue, Graphical Shell prototype, the Future Tools event, Grafica Libre Workstation, Tools for a Read-Write World, Considering your tools: a reader for designers and developers, and more. In parallel we open an exhibition of books made with FLOSS, plus on Saturday 25 May there will be workshops with students and local professionals.

Goal of this meeting is to facilitate an indepth discussion based on work developed in context of LGRU, to finish archiving/documentation as far as not already done; to reflect on/discuss the results of project as a whole and hopefully to start future work.

Books with an attitude*

Wednesday, 22nd of May, at 9:30 pm, exhibition opening with Manuel Schmalstieg (Greyscale Press)

Exhibition design and curation: Manufactura Independente (Porto)

The Libre Graphics Research Unit presents Books with an attitude, an exhibition of printed books made with Libre digital tools. This exhibition includes Libre bookdesign and typography from all over Europe, demonstrating how content, aesthetics and Libre tools can play together.

After the end of the exhibition, the collection will be donated to OpenLab ESEV, a Free Software working and learning space in Viseu, Portugal.

* Quoting Ward Cunningham, the author of the first wiki software:
You’re browsing a database with a program called Wiki Wiki Web. And the program has an attitude. The program wants everyone to be an author. So, the program slants in favor of authors at some inconvenience to readers.

The sandbox culture

Aymeric Mansoux (Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academie)
Thursday, 23rd of May, at 9:30 pm

Workshops, Saturday, 25th of May, from 11:00 am — 6:00 pm

FLOSSmanuals, Greyscale Press, Open Source Publishing e Manufactura Independente

Full programme

Wednesday, 22nd of May

10:00 Introduction, welcome
11:00 Piksels and Lines Orchestra, Elisabeth Nesheim (Piksel)
13:00 Lunch
15:00 LGRU-Reader, Alexandre Leray e Stéphanie Vilayphiou (Constant)
17:00 Libre Graphics Workstation, Laura Fernández e Myriam Cea (Medialab Prado)
19:00 // end worksessions
19:30 Dinner
21:30 Exhibition opening: Books with an attitude

Thursday, 23rd of May

10:00 Co-position, Femke Snelting e Pierre Huyghebaert (via Skype) (Constant)
12:00 Superglue, Mike van Gaasbeek (WORM)
13:00 Lunch
15:00 Superglue, Mike van Gaasbee e Danja Vasiliev (via Skype) (WORM)
16:00 Libre Graphics Meeting & Interactivos?13, Marcos Garcia, Laura Fernández, Myriam Cea, Femke Snelting e Mónica Cachafeiro (Medialab Prado)
19:00 // end worksessions
19:30 Dinner
21:30 Lecture Aymeric Mansoux: The Sandbox Culture

Friday, 24th of May

11:00 Admin meeting (partners): finances, reporting
13:00 Lunch
15:00 Documentation session
19:00 // end worksessions
19:30 Dinner
22:00 Party

Saturday, 25th of May

11:00 Two parallel worksesions with Manufactura Independente, OSP, Greyscale Press e FLOSS-manuals:
- Translation sprint: translating the FontForge FLOSS-manual into Portuguese
- Foundry-in-a-box
13:00 Lunch
15:00 Translation sprint + Foundry-in-a-box
18:00 End

Maus Hábitos
Rua Passos Manuel 178, 4º
4000-382 Porto

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Tools for a Read-Write World

We have been busy at Medialab Prado in Madrid for the last couple of weeks, first participating in Libre Graphics Meeting (with two talks and a workshop), and now we’re integrating the Interactivos?’13 advisors team, along with ginger coons, Jennifer Dopazo, Samer Hassan and Vicente Ruiz Jurado.

This edition of Interactivos? is dedicated to the theme of Tools for a Read-Write World, and 9 projects have been selected for an intensive development sprint at the beautiful new Medialab Prado HQ.

For the first time in Interactivos?, there is going to be a printed collection of the projects’ diverse outcomes. We took the task of laying out and designing the cover of this publication, while ginger coons, Femke Snelting and Jennifer Dopazo take care of gathering material and editing it.

Following the sprinting methodology of the workshop, we have spent a full day brainstorming, looking for possible design cues and defining a visual language for this publication, given the extremely tight timeframe (3 and a half days from beginning until it’s all printed!)

Working with plotters has given us new cues about how to use bézier strokes as expressive design elements; drawing from technical diagrams and axonometric projections, we’ve been going through a hectic iterative process, trying out different layouts and positionings around the I-beam character.

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From Stone to Spaceship, Collaborative type design

This article was originally published in Cuaderno Medialab

The future home of Medialab-Prado, Serrería Belga (Belgian Saw Mill), has its facades decorated with beautiful typography. Taking on the challenge set by Medialab-Prado to liberate these letters from their stone prison and release them to the world, we hosted a three day workshop in Madrid. The premise was to collaboratively design a font, using a fully libre workflow and with no pre-requisites for participation — everyone was invited to join in.

We were thrilled to receive this invitation from Medialab-Prado to come to Madrid and work together in a font revival inspired by a building with a rich historical background. The reception to the call was impressive and two days later we closed it having enlisted a total of thirty participants from different backgrounds and coming from different cities in Spain.

The first challenge we faced was to come up with a method that allowed collaboration to take place while, at the same time, creating and maintaining a cohesive design style. Having Serreria’s wall lettering as the starting point proved to be a very important aspect. It allowed us to have a reference point we could start from and go back to whenever we needed.

Looking at the building one of our first collective discoveries was that the wall letterings didn’t came from a pre-existing font. In the compositions it is possible to identify different representations or variations over the same character. Still there are some principles behind the letter drawings that made it consistent in the overall.

The fact that the letterings were so rich and had so many shape variations made it the perfect stage for the work taking place. It allowed space for improvisation and interpretation (within a set of constraints). There wasn’t one clear direction for the font design but many and we could pick from there freely.

The first day of the workshop went by without computer work. Pen and paper were our medium of choice in a phase we wanted as free and experimental as possible. The focus was to get the general feel of the font and not the perfect letter shape.

From the wall letterings we identified to possible directions and divided the large group of participants in two. We all moved to the first drafting sessions, where each person would draw a small set of letters. We would then gather and collectively look at the results, selecting one of them; then, we would go through another iteration of the process, this time with more letters, but sticking to the general rules that were set by the first drawing that was selected. Again, we all picked a satisfactory proposal among all of them, and the identity of the typeface was then set.

Now, the focus shifted from proposing alternative design directions to working together in order to draw all the characters based on the identity that we evolved in the previous steps. Using a manual version control system (with sticky notes), everyone was supposed to work together in order to draw the remaining characters from the alphabet, numbers, and basic punctuation. The rudimentary version control system helped understand the current status of our endeavour, as well as know who was working on what (replacing shouts) and know who to ask for pointers (e.g. someone drawing a B would want to discuss with whoever drew the P.).

From time to time we would stop, look at the progress and realign the general direction of the two typefaces taking shape. After a few hours of work, drawing, comparing and re-sketching, we ended the day with fairly complete character sets on paper.

On the second day it was time to turn our sketches digital, and for that we used the best vector graphics editor we know — Inkscape. After an introduction to vector drawing and a quick showcase of Inkscape’s powerful features, we set out to re-draw all the sketches using points and curves. The previous day drawings served as reference but we didn’t scan them. They served to understand the letter’s structure but were filled with inconsistencies we didn’t want to reproduce in the digital drawing.

In regular intervals we would print the letters and get together to discuss them. Participants would propose changes, alternatives and sometimes would even decide on making multiple variations of a character. The environment was vibrant and lunch brakes became shorter with the will to get back to work and accomplish as much as possible. Extra characters were added to the initial set, some of them brought by participants suggestions. One of them was the “ñ”, a characters widely used in Spanish. Medialab-Prado’s technician contributed a beautiful @, extending the font glyph coverage beyond what was initially planned.

The last day workshop day was reserved for Fontforge, the font editing tool. It was when we began collecting all the glyphs and compiling them in the final file. But a font is not made only out of glyphs, it is also a collection of the relations between them. The spacing between characters is an important part of type design and can be a very time consuming one. In the field of libre fonts the task becomes easier as you can use resources from one font and apply them to yours. Having this in mind we went back for a script we wrote a year ago. It is called Transpacing and what is does is that it picks the spacing tables from a font and applies it to a different font. This made our work easier as we quickly borrowed the spacings of similar fonts and applied them to our own.

Once the fonts were finished we proceed to writing the copyright notices, appending the Open Font License, creating the FONTLOG and checking all appropriate boxes before exporting the final file. The font was released on Open Font Library, an online repository of libre fonts, and we all clicked the upload button together. From there anyone was free to pick up the work, building upon it or take it in a different direction.

The two fonts created were named Serreria, after the building that inspired them. Serrería Sobria was based in the most conservative letter shapes while Serrería Extravagante was based in more decorative shapes. We celebrate their release and ended the workshop making beautiful type specimens with them.

The fonts and documentation are available at manufacturaindependente.com/piedranave.
Find Serrería Sobria and Serrería Extravagante the fonts at Open Font Library.

The photos in this posts are by kamatiko

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