considering your t o o l s

w o r k s h o p  
f r e e c u l t u r e f o r u m 2 0 1 4

Wednesday, 5 November
from 14:00 until 18:00
In Bau, Design College of Barcelona (see the map)
Building A – Classroom A.0.6

I m p a r t e d   b y :

Femke Snelting & OSP (Open Source Publishing)

D e s c r i p t i o n :

This workshop starts from our experience with using Free and Open Source software in our (graphic) design practice. We would like to share what this means for our own work, and more particularly how it has an effect on our ideas about design education. Free culture challenges traditional art-education paradigms because it invites  participants to move between roles  (teacher, student, developer, user) and because it necessitates a fundamental questioning of the political and cultural heritage embedded in the technologies that we employ.

Art- and design students are typically expected to create their work using proprietary tools for research, prototypes, (re)presentation and production. Sometimes, they are taught particular packages but more often the impact of software and hardware choices will be ignored. How to engage with the growing importance of digital processes in a way that relates to the intellectual and aesthetic paradigms of design-education? How to consider soft- and hardware as an integral part of design practice, and develop more intimate and experimental relations with digital tools? And what is the importance of using Free, Libre and Open Source software for all this?

P r o g r a m m e :

A tour through the current practice of OSP, a Brussels’ based design caravan that decided in 2006 to use Free, Libre and Open Source software only. Changing from proprietary (ie OSX and Adobe) to Free Software means not just replacing one tool by another. It means engaging in the design of those tools, rethinking the collaboration processes, and the way one distributes their work. How has Free Software changed the practice of OSP? How do they work together now? And in what way have their aesthetics changed?

T a l k i n g  p o i n t s :
  • Free Software tools might be designed for a different public than graphic deisgners. For scientists, activists, programmers or amateurs, for example. Using these tools means confronting paradigms different from the Graphic Design mainstream.
  •  The Free Software community puts a lot of emphasis and archiving and sharing their sources, choosing to release ‘source files’ early in the development process: ‘Release early, release often’. OSP follows this approach by sharing their design files online, right from the start of a project. How does this change the relation with the client/collaborator and the public?
  •  Within existing proprietary design tools there are not many infrastructures for collaboration. The world of Free and Open Source Software has great tools for collaboration, but they are meant for programming code. OSP tries to imagine other infrastructures that allow to design together: open ended, fluid, Read-Write exchange…
  • Using non-mainstream tools often requires new expertise. Every new OSP projects mixes designing and learning. We may find ourselves programming too, even if we’re not educated programmers and may be less confident about it. How do we live this constant ‘relearn’? And how do we find the time to do so in the market of Graphic Design, where time is always in short supply?
Collaborative mapping exercise using Graphviz and Etherpad (60mins)
The starting point for this exercise are notes from preparatory meetings. While brainstorming about relevant keywords and concepts, we generate a collaborative visualisation in real time.

Graphiz is a network visualization software software developed in the early nineties by AT&T labs and mainly used in bioinformatics, machine learning and other technical domains. Etherpad is an online real time editor originally developed by Google. After its release as Open Source software it has become immensely popular for many types of collaborative writing. The toolset is complemented by a small script that automatically imports etherpad content into a local installation of Graphviz, and updates the graph.

This exercise demonstrates a few tools and methods emblematic for the discussion: simultaneous editing of content, form and code; engaging with cultural paradigms of specific tools and mixing existing tools and platforms with additional DIY pieces. Please bring your laptop!

Productive tensions between institutional education and the practice of open design (60mins)

A discussion about experiences in design education that engage with the growing interest in ‘open design’, and the way Free, Libre and Open Source software could play in that.
  • What is the place of teaching tools in design education, at BAU and in what way could we imagine to make changes?
  • How to develop a consideraton for digital processes specific to the type of design taught at BAU? Free, Libre and Open Source software: motivations to introduce them, and possible challenges
  • Software and hardware as Tools of the Trade: shifting ‘professional skills’ beyond market requirements
  • The importance of self-education in hacking/free software contexts: alternating between teaching and learning
  • How to shift from learning about specific tools to understanding processes (ie ‘Photoshop’ or ‘GIMP’ vs learning about image processing).
  • Learning about FLOSS paradigms, engaging with Free Culture: institutions engaging with communities
  • The place of open standards and Free Licenses. Publishing and archiving of teaching materials and outcomes
  • Programming for designers: teaching skills and/or attitudes?
  • Platforms, tools that might support another understanding of learning and practice: etherpad, wiki, mailinglist, command-line, …
  • Every institution challenges the way FLOSS and design are brought together in a different way. Stories from La Cambre, erg, PZI, Merz … and BAU.
  • General discussion (30 mins)
Crossing open design-education vs practice: What does this mean when we think about future schools?

L i n k s :
R e g i s t r a t i o n :

Workshop for teachers from Bau, Design College of Barcelona.
Prior registration is required. The last date for registration is 31 October, 2014.
There are 20 places.

To register, send an e-mail to:

Indicating as the subject:
‘Registration for FCForum Lab Workshops’ and the name of the Workshop (Considering your tools).

+ i n f o :


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