Case Studies/Strange Symphonies Blog
It’s like making everyone a kid with scissors and glue, and letting them make their own collages from what is already out there. — Azait Faiz
Aizat Faiz is a self-proclaimed free culture advocate working with FLOSS, free content, and the development of open standards in Malaysia. An undergraduate student enroled in a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science at the Malaysian campus of Monash University, Aizat chronicles the effects which free culture and FLOSS has had on his education and employment. Aizat, aka ‘aizatto’, ‘zatto’ or the ‘Malaysian Free and Open Source Software junkie,’ maintains an interest in developing open standards, XHTML/HTML and the Open Document Format, in addition to programming using PHP and Ruby on Rails. He is a member of MyOSS, the Free and Open Source Software Society of Malaysia, the Malaysia National Computer Confederation Open Document Format Special Interest Group, was rapporteur at the 7th AsiaOSS Symposium, and has had some involvement in the Malaysia-United States Free Trade Agreement. After spending a year studying at the Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) in Kuala Lumpur, Aizat enroled at Monash University where he entered the eGenting Programming Competition in 2006, and won.
- ‘As can be seen, the freedom to let me just take code online, read it, study it, remix it, hack it, has been extremely beneficial to me in terms of my education.’ (http://blog.aizatto.com/2007/05/23/why-i-support-free-culture/)
Given his strong skills in software development, Aizat has been employed by the United Nations Development Program International Open Source Network to work on the DocBook and WikiBook conversions.
As a free culture advocate and programmer, Aizat lists numerous resources for FLOSS development on his blog, with posts outlining the latest in programming as well as Asia-based events pertaining to open source initiatives. Many meetings consider FLOSS licensing and support plus provide broader overviews of software and services in business contexts.
The majority of content of the Strange Symphonies blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported licence. The site uses graphics from the Tango Desktop Project, which seeks to develop a consistent graphical user interface experience for free and open source software. Several of Aizat’s presentations on FLOSS released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic licence encompass introductions to GNU/Linux, the LAMP platform, Ruby on Rails, and privacy/anonymity with Tor. Specific Strange Symphonies blog entries on Creative Commons discuss advantages and disadvantages of licence information and various events held at Creative Commons Malaysia, such as the photography workshop organised by Lensa Malaysia in 2007.
‘This is not just about the software. Even leading institutions such as MIT are releasing their coursework under a Creative Commons license.’ (http://blog.aizatto.com/2007/05/23/why-i-support-free-culture/)
Throughout his blog, Aizat celebrates the fact that free culture has given him the ability to ‘remix, to hack, to build upon, to enhance, to study, to learn off existing works.’ Taking the definition of ‘Free Cultural Works’ from http://freedomdefined.org/Definition, he emphasises these four key points:
- the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it;
- the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it;
- the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression; and
- the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works.
All of these, Aizat maintains, are beneficial to a person to let them learn on their own and experiment, as he has done throughout his studies and career, programming in C, OpenGL, SDL, Python and Ruby. Discussing his attachment to the philosophy of free culture and open source software, Aizat provides a variety of answers to the question, ‘Why do you support open source technology?’ The one-line, non-philanthropic answer he provides is: ‘Because I have benefited from Free Culture, and I know that others can benefit as well.’ In response, his philanthropic answer is ‘Because it’s the right thing to do.’ Giving the background to his more detailed answer concerning free cultural works, Aizat discusses his education, community involvement, employment, and other gains, such as becoming familiar with legal concepts surrounding copyright, patents, DRM, and contract law.
- ‘Want to bridge the digital divide? Want to help build local capacity? Want to build the local economy? I believe that Free Culture is the solution. May not be the end all solution, but it will help to play a large part.’ (http://blog.aizatto.com/2007/05/23/why-i-support-free-culture/)
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