[Clipart] Ideas for the clipart project.

Bryce Harrington bryce at bryceharrington.com
Sun Apr 11 11:23:35 PDT 2004

On Sun, 11 Apr 2004, [iso-8859-1] Áki G Karlsson wrote:
> Inevitable that this comes up sooner or later...
> Was there any discussion about animated clipart previously? SVG supports 
> animation, obviously, and there might be a conversion utility for SVG->MNG 
> or similar...

There's been no discussion of animated clipart at all, but only because
there hasn't been a way to create it.

However, in Inkscape there is work being done by Ishmal to implement
ECMA (i.e. Javascript) support, with the intent of making basic
animation work.  So it's definitely a good question to be asking right

As an aside, pretty much all the initial discussions are documented in
Wiki at clipart.freedesktop.org, so if it's not there, you can fairly
safely assume the topic wasn't discussed.  :-)  

And as new stuff gets discussed, please don't be shy about adding it to
the Wiki.  That'll be the best way to ensure new folks can fairly
quickly check to see what's been covered previously to get up to speed.
(E.g., set up an 'AnimatedClipart' page.)

> I'm no great fan of animated (looped) clipart, personally, but it is 
> something that a lot of people covet... (e.g. listed under "cool stuff" at 
> clipart sites) so this question is bound to come up: What will be the 
> project's policy on animation?

Good question.  Like you, I don't really have much use for animated
clipart, but it seems like if users want it, and artists to make it, and
it's supported by the file format and going to be supported by some
editors, it seems like a pretty easy decision for us.  

We had talked generally on the issue of how much 'control' or
'censorship' we'd impose on contributors, and we had a rough concensus
for "definitely as little as possible".  We figured the purpose of this
project was to facilitate getting clipart from artists to users, without
imposing judgements on what should or should be considered 'art'.

So for instance, instead of imposing policies such as 'no NAZI
symbolism', 'no nudity', 'no animation', etc. we figured a better
approach would be to use extensive labeling via metadata, and a
mechanism that allows individual users to self-filter.  So for instance,
a piece of art that had the attributes 'animated', 'nudity', 'NAZI
symbolism' could easily be excluded from places it shouldn't be.

This would also mean that our project's role reduces to the much more
manageable position of simply ensuring things get labelled
appropriately, without having to place our cultural biases on anything.  
The one thing that we can be certain of is that if use of this project's
collections is to spread worldwide, we're going to learn that something
completely innocent in one culture (like a big Texan eating a slab of
beef steak), could have a drastically different meaning in another
context (such as in India).

There is also the question of style and quality.  Of course it would
seem logical that we would want to include only high quality art of a
"good" style, but in reality doing that kind of judging opens a bunch of
cans of worms.  Like with sensitive subject matter, I figure it's best
that we just let the artist do the best they can, in the style they
prefer, and leave it to the user to pick and choose based on their needs
and desires.  If we can help the two parties by providing good
metadata-based filtering, we should, but otherwise we leave it to them
to work out.

> Topic ideas: I suggested "country outlines" previously as a topic... Do 
> you think it's a bad idea? It would certainly be useful for me myself... :)

Then go for it.  As alluded to above, I'd like to see us not get into
the business of tagging any topic idea as good or bad.  If it's
important enough to you to put effort into making it, then that's all
that should really matter.  One of the main open source philosophies is
that by scratching your itch, and sharing, hopefully you'll be able to
scratch someone else's itch too.  Country outlines definitely sound like
the type of thing that'll scratch many itches.  

We did discuss topics a few weeks ago, but that was just in the context
of "what topic should we _start_ with".  We didn't really reach any sort
of a concensus; we had some kind of generic ideas like 'vehicles',
'fruits & vegetables', 'animals', etc.  Fruit sounded like something I
could handle, so that's why I did an apple.  ;-)  


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