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Getting Creative: A Resource Guide to the Free World Wide Web

Free Culture would like to guide you in exploring tools and resources that enable you to create. This document is directed at end-users of digital technologies (as opposed to programmers or system administrators) who are creators of content. We hope to empower your creativity with references to resources that are Free, and resources that will help free your content.

Software

Digital technologies enable (re-)creation, and (re)distribution of media; this is where the need for the Creative Commons arises. Because Creative Commons was invented with inspiration from the Free Software movement, Creative Commons encourages using Free Software and Open Source Software, collectively refered to as FLOSS. Learn more about: Free Software, Open Source Software, and FLOSS on Wikipedia.

Operating System

An Operating System (OS) is the software that talks to your computer hardware. Software applications (programs) then talk to the OS. Linux is a FLOSS OS, an alternative to the proprietary Windows and OS X operating systems. Linux is used more for servers than it is for desktop computing, although this is quickly changing. Thus here are some of the reasons you might consider changing your desktop OS to Linux :

  • support the FLOSS community and the ethics of sharing
  • viruses are virtually non-existent in Linux
  • your computer is less likely to be "hacked"
  • there's more FLOSS software for Linux
  • it's free of cost
  • there is an excellent community of voluntary support

There are many different flavours of Linux (called "distributions") to choose from. If you're looking for an easy to use and install distribution designed for "human beings" that runs on PCs and Macs try out Ubuntu Linux. Some links for chosing a distribution of Linux:


If you are a Windows or OS X user who is interested in FLOSS software, but afraid to make the leap to Linux, start using multi-platform FLOSS application so that when you eventually do cross over, you will be comfortable with the most common applications that run inside Linux. The [OpenCD http://www.opencd.org] is a collection of Windows FLOSS software.

Live CDs

If you are curious to explore Linux without the risk of switching over, you can start out by trying a "Live CD". A live CD is a CD that has a runnable operating system on it. When you put the live CD in your computer and restart it, your computer will boot into Linux without changing anything on your hard drive. It will be much slower than Linux normally is, but it will give you a taste for Linux and let you know if your hardware will work in Linux.

  • Knoppix - popular LiveCD that uses the KDE desktop
  • dyne:bolic - multimedia-studio-on-a-CD, works great with old computers
  • Ubuntu Live - installable distribution that has a Live CD too

Desktop Applications

Some applicatons can be run on more than one OS. Beside the name of each applications, you will see one or more letters in brackets representing which OS they can be run on

  • L is for Linux
  • O is for OSX
  • W is for Windows

Internet

  • Firefox (LOW) - Mozilla's feature-rich, secure, and extensible web browser
  • Thunderbird (LOW) - Mozilla's e-mail client
  • GAIM (LOW) - an IM program that supports all major account types i.e. ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, GoogleTalk
  • XChat (LOW) - IRC client
  • Azureus (LOW) - bitTorrent client
  • eMule (W) - filesharing client based on the eDonkey2000 network
  • Nicotine (L) - a P2P client for the Soulseek network
  • Limewire (LOW) - a free file sharing Gnutella client
  • Juice (LOW) - podcast client
  • RSSOwl (LOW) - reader for RSS/RDF/Atom newsfeeds
  • nvu (LOW) - web authoring system similar in function to FrontPage or Dreamweaver
  • FileZilla (W) - FTP client and server for Windows
  • gFTP (L) - an FTP client for Linux
  • ccPublisher (OW) - manages CC licenses for your digital media and optionally uploads to archive.org
  • ccLookup (OW) - checks to make sure that content labeled as Creative Commons is really licensed as such

Office/Productivity/Utility

  • OpenOffice (LOW) - fully-featured office suite (word processor, spread sheet, presentation, illustration)
  • AbiWord (LOW) - word processor, faster but less features than OpenOffice Writer
  • Freemind (LOW) - mind-mapping software for taking notes and outlining
  • 7-zip (W) - reads and writes archive files i.e. .zip files
  • PDF Creator (W) - allows you to print any document into a PDF instead of on paper

Graphics

  • Inkscape (LOW) - vector graphics drawing program
  • The GIMP (LOW) - A photo editing program similar to Photoshop in function
  • Blender 3D (LOW) - 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback
  • Celestia (LOW) - a space simulation program that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions

Audio

  • XMMS (L) - a WinAmp-like audio player
  • amaroK (L) - music player for Linux with an intuitive interface
  • http://www.k3b.org/ K3B] (L) - burn CDs
  • CDex (W) - turn CDs into MP3s
  • LMMS (L) - LMMS combines the features of a tracker-/sequencer-program (pattern-/channel-/ sample-/song-/effect-management) and those of powerful synthesizers and samplers in a modern, user-friendly and easy to use graphical user-interface
  • Mixx (LOW) - a cross-platform, open source digital DJ tool
  • Audacity (LOW) - an easy-to-use multi-track audio editor
  • Ardour (L) - a full-featured multi-channel digital audio workstation
  • A large directory of FLOSS audio software for Linux lies at http://linux-sound.org/

Video

  • MPlayer (LW) - video player
  • VideoLAN (LOW) - another video player
  • Jahshaka (LOW) - realtime video editing and effects
  • D________ internet TV (OW) - free and open way to watch, share, and broadcast video on the internet
  • Electric Sheep - a mind-blowing screensaver that uses the power of the internet to weave together different moving images


These are just a few of the best and most common FLOSS software applications, but there are thousands of FLOSS programs. You can find more at these sites:

Web Services

Content Curation

After you make something with all of these tools, and you will need somewhere to put it. Somewhere where everyone can see it. You need to know about "content curators" who will host your work. The old Creative Commons wiki hosts a list of Content Curators

  • http://www.archive.org - a humongous archive of multiple media types
  • http://www.ourmedia.org - a web interface that makes it easier to upload and organize content to archive.org
  • http://www.ccmixter.org - an audio repository designed to facilitate remixing
  • http://www.flickr.com - a feature-rich host for digital photos
  • http://www.odeo.com - an easy way to record and broadcast audio clips and podcasts on the net
  • http://www.youtube.com - this site is particularly Free Culture unfriendly because: (1) it doesn't let you download and thus remix content (2) it relies upon proprietary software, Flash. Despite this, it has a lot of content an audience, so it is suggested that you use it to redirect users to alternatives like ourmedia.org

Short-term File Hosting

Web sites designed to solve the problem of sending big files through e-mail

Material Publishing and Merchandizing

Suppose you want to do more than just give your work away for free on the net, rather, you would like to capitalize on your work. These websites will help you get your warez sold in the material world.

In the near future, we will see the Creative Commons facilitating commercial exchange as is suggested in the CC blog blog entry CC in Review: Lawrence Lessig on CC Licenses