Kiwi artist and open-source advocate Adam Hyde is launching an online bookstore, called the FLOSS Book Store, to sell manuals for open source software.
Up until 2007, the FLOSS (free, libre, open source software) Manuals project existed as a wiki with manuals that Hyde had written himself. But, in late 2006, he received funding from Digital Pioneers in Amsterdam to develop the project further.
With this funding, Hyde, in collaboration with programmer Aleksander Erkalovic and designer Lotte Meijer, developed a new online look and extended the platform, “so it made sense as a collaborative authoring environment”, he says. It was launched in October last year.
Hyde started working on the collection seriously after returning from Antarctica last year, where he was part of the I-TASC (Interpolar Transnational Art Science Constellation) crew.
Hyde originally got the idea for the manual collection from his work as an artist.
“I had led workshops in streaming media for a long time as a way to earn money as an artist. It’s a common thing for digital artists to do,” he says.
“For each workshop I would make my own manuals and then upload them to the net in some kind of text document. After a while, I figured I should put these files in a wiki and then, a little later, I realised if I wanted to get people to contribute I had to make the wiki a little more manageable.”
The FLOSS Book Store, launched last week, allows Hyde to output content in his wiki to book-formatted PDFs — the file format required for print on demand services.
“We can now go from wiki to print-ready format in minutes. Prior to this, it took two to three days to lay out a book,” says Hyde. “It’s amazing how good the automated formatted books look. Lotte made a wonderful template and it looks beautiful.”
The PDF is uploaded to an online print-on-demand service, lulu.com, and anyone can order the book directly online.
Developers can also integrate the store into their own websites, says Hyde. Using tools from Lulu, Hyde and his team have made a widget that is designed to fit in the sidebar of a website.
“We don’t need a book shop and we don’t need a centralised web shop. What we need is for people to host the book store on their own site,” he says. “It just takes a few lines of code, similar to how you embed Youtube video, and that’s it.”
I-TASC is a network of individuals and organisations who work collaboratively in the fields of art, engineering, science and technology on the development and deployment of renewable energy and waste recycling systems, sustainable architecture and open format open-source media.
Hyde was involved in building the autonomous Automatic Weather Station (AWS) in Antarctica, which is completely powered by solar and wind energy.
He also helped set up the Polar Radio station, and trained researchers at the South African SANAE IV base in the skills necessary to make radio shows for their station.