[Clipart] Questions for the Community

Jonadab the Unsightly One jonadab at bright.net
Tue Jul 5 20:06:20 PDT 2005

Jon Phillips <jon at rejon.org> writes:

> Hello everyone,
> It might be good though to send to the list so everyone can be on
> the same page. Answers to these questions will really help me write
> this paper.

Sure.  But so that people have a chance to think about their own
answers first before reading mine...



> What characteristics typify yourself as a contributor? 

This question seems too general to warrant a very specific answer.

> Are you more of a user, an artist, or a developer (librarian), and
> why?

I'm a bit of a generalist, so I end up doing all three of those things
to a greater or lesser extent, but I guess my most important
contribution is probably as a developer.  Why?  Because I'm not really
an artist.  I dabble a bit in art, enough that people who can only
draw stick figures think I can draw, but it takes me about fifty times
as long as a real artist to draw anything.  This is a large part of my
motivation, incidentally, in getting involved with the library:  I get
to do something I'm a bit better at (specifically, write Perl code),
and I get results that are useful, in the form of a lot of clip art.

I guess I have a bit of the librarian in me too; working at a library
(of the brick-and-mortar sort) is currently my day job.

> How many images have you contributed?  

Between contributions that I did at home, and ones that I did at work,
perhaps 20-30.  Some of those are quite simple, of course, and many of
them reuse or build on existing works from the library.

> What are the top five things you contribute to the project?

I try to maintain the upload facility.
I try to maintain several of the tools for the release process.
I've put together several of the releases.
I have contributed a few bits and pieces to SVG::Metadata.
Oh, and a handful of drawings, some of which aren't entirely bad.

> Why do you contribute to the project?  

Mainly because the project's results are useful to me.  I discovered
the project when I was looking for some clipart to jazz up a document,
but I was disappointed at the small size of the collection at the
time.  Upon joining the mailing list, I discovered that there was a
need to have some Perl code written to help with the process of
collecting the artwork.  I enjoy writing Perl, and so doing something
I enjoy in order to facilitate the improvement of a resource that I
can then use seemed like a pretty good deal.

> How long does it take to learn how to contribute?  

Depends on what you want to contribute.  I slapped together a
mostly-working script in a few days after joining the mailing list,
and that was useful, but it took months before I knew enough to get
involved in some of the more complicated things; I still haven't
gotten my mind wrapped around the DMS yet.

> How did you find out about Open Clip Art Library?

Web search, IIRC.  I'd done web searches for clipart before, but the
results were less than altogether marvelous in a lot of cases,
depending on what I was looking for.  There's always the Google image
search, but for some uses the copyright issues there can potentially
be troublesome.  What I wanted was a repository of freely-reusable
clipart, covering a broad range of subjects, and organized well enough
that I can find things.  So this time I specifically went looking for
a clipart project connected with the open-source community.  I'd had
some positive experiences using the results of the open-source process
in the past, and so I was guessing that an open-source clipart
repository might be pretty good.  (It is pretty useful now; my
expectations were a few months ahead of things, at the time, though,
as the project was really just getting off the ground.)

> What do you think would make the project better?

Time and effort.

> What are your personal goals for project?

In terms of the big picture, I was hoping the collection would get to
the point where any time I want a piece of clipart to illustrate a
particular thing in some document or another, I could reach for this
library and easily find what I'm looking for -- preferably with a
handful of choices of visual style.

In terms of specifics, I'd like to see us get to the point where
artists can track their contributions on the website, submit updates
to particular ones of their images, receive feedback on the images
from one another and from end users, ...  if we get that stuff done, I
can easily come up with a dozen more ideas like those.  (Ideas are
easy; implementing them is the time-consuming part.)

So in terms of the infrastructure of the site, we have a lot of work
to do.  I think we can actively develop this thing for several years
without running out of useful things to do there.  By then, I suspect
the collection and the pool of contributors will have grown rather
substantially, if all goes according to plan.

> What are your general group goals for the project?

Oh, I think I answered that above.  Hmmm...  By "personal goals" did
you mean my personal goals for what I personally should accomplish?
In that case, let me go back and answer that question now:

In the short-to-medium term I want to fix the known bugs, especially
the HASH bug and the charset issues, in SVG::Metadata, the tools, and
the upload script, and get the release process refined and simplified
to the point where I can hand it off to someone with better
bandwidth.  I think right now the twenty-some-step release process is
scaring off people who otherwise might want to undertake something
like that; probably most of it can be combined and automated, so that
we should be able to get it down to half a dozen steps or so.

Longer term I want to wrap my mind around the DMS and see if there's
anything useful I can do in that regard.

> What would you like to learn about and do on the project in the future?

In fixing the character set bugs, I'll be learning more about
character set issues than I formerly realized I wanted to know :-)

And I think getting into the DMS will teach me stuff about types of
projects I've not previously worked on.

Perhaps most importantly, I'm trying to learn to work as part of a
team.  At work I'm the only computer guy, so I don't get experience
there with stuff like using CVS and communicating with other
developers; I need experience with that sort of thing, because at some
point in the future I'll probably end up having a job that requires

> What is the primary problem on the project?

I guess probably it's the scalability of developer/librarian time
versus the ever-increasing size of the collection.  If we can't handle
a larger collection and keep it organized, then we can't meet the
goal of being able to reach for the collection and find a piece of
clipart to meet whatever need arises.

> What is the way to solve that problem?

We're going to have to find ways to distribute things like
categorization beyond the core team.  That's one of the things I want
to work into the web interface once we get the DMS in place:  a way
for web users to mark specific images as belonging in certain
categories.  This is really just an example, though; a lot of the
problems we will have to solve involve finding ways to avoid having
one person manually do X, Y, or Z to each of a bazillion images.  Some
of these can be solved with automation, and perhaps others can be
solved by soliciting contributions (in the form of feedback, metadata
review, and so on) from end users.  There may be other approaches too,
or a combination, for some things.

split//,"ten.thgirb\@badanoj$/ --";$\=$ ;-> ();print$/

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