Teaching Open Source collaboration to designers (without digital tools!)


(Sam Muirhead) #1

Over the next 12 weeks I will be developing a project called Cut, Copy & Paste as part of the Mozilla Open Leadership program, and I would like to run a workshop during the Open Design Summit next month.

Cut, Copy & Paste is a workshop format to teach people the open source methodology in a creative, hands-on way, without any digital tools. The primary target groups are designers, illustrators, animators, artists, and writers - that is, people working in creative fields who may not ordinarily be exposed to open source ideas or have the experience of collaborating in this way.

In this workshop, participants draw, write, cut and collage their ideas in black & white on A4 paper to make zines - if they like, they can build upon an existing repository of public domain imagery or the work of other participants.

After each stage of creation, participants stamp their work with a ‘commit number’ and photocopy it - filing the ‘original’ in the repository and continuing to work on the copy, or starting an issue around the copy, asking for help from others. In this way a common pool of ideas, writing and drawings are built up, which any participant can draw from in order to create their own personal zine.

The reasons to do this exercise as an analog process rather than digital is for it to serve as an accessible, fun way to get to grips with the open source collaboration without having to open a terminal, learn any git commands or use a computer at all. In my experience, many people see open source as something extremely nerdy or techy which they do not identify with - it’s seen as something only relevant to software. This means that many people working in artistic/creative fields (who could gain so much from open source collaboration) are either not interested in learning more about it, or see no easy way in without learning a bunch of tech stuff.

I feel that this supports Open Source Design’s main goal of ‘better design for open source software’ by getting more designers from different backgrounds interested in open source in the first place.

I am not proposing these analog methods as a genuine alternative to digital tools - there is a reason we do this stuff digitally! Instead, this is just an introduction, a way to get people thinking about shared authorship, about forking and remixing, and about collaborating with unknown others. Only once we’ve got people interested do we mention that they now have to learn git :wink:

See also the (accepted) proposal for MozFest (Oct 27-29 in London), and in my roadmap for the project I have also explained my proposed idea for the OSD Summit version:

WORKSHOP @ Open Source Design Summit, 13-17th Oct 2017

Workshopping the workshop: running a short prototype of the photocopy workshop to create a zine or two on a set topic. Participants will be designers who work on open source software projects - so they are already familiar with version control, distributed collaboration etc.
Therefore, this will be a somewhat meta-workshop, where we talk about the issue of getting designers interested in open source processes, the hurdles we face in OSD, and the participants can provide feedback on the workshop format and the analog processes we use.

You can read more of my roughly scrawled ideas for the project on the Gitlab repo I’ve set up for it.

So… what do you think? How could this workshop be designed in a way which is beneficial for the participants of the OSD Summit? What topics should be worked on there? Does anybody know where I could borrow/rent a photocopier in Berlin? (Or if there might be one at Wikipedia/Mozilla, whom do I need to bake cookies for?)

Any ideas or feedback on the project in general would also be very welcome :slight_smile:


Convincing Designers to embrace OS methods
(Sam Muirhead) #2


The illustrated process for doing version control with only rubber stamps, paper and a photocopier is here:

How to Commit

I’ll be testing out a version of this process on the weekend at the summit. See you there!


(Sam Muirhead) #3

The work that we created in this workshop can be seen here, and I’ve written up feedback from the summit as issues to be worked on. New ideas and suggestions welcome!