Open Views playlist for 2006-12-19

Phillippe margoldGrenouilles et
ScoopGroove SoundDa Sound
AntrabataMiss EncyclopediaElephant

Interview with Richard Poynder

Richard Poynder is a feelance journalist, with contributions in the Financial Times, Information Today, Information World Review, and a regular blogger on his Open and Shut blog.

In 2003 Richard Poynder had the idea to write a book about the open source and free culture movements - focusing on the people behind the movements. The Plan was to devote a chapter to each of the key people in the open and free movements, with a leading introduction, a full interview to get the story from the actors themselves. The book was to be published by O'Reilly media, a publisher that every techie knows. As an O'Reilly editor put it, the publishing deal collapsed due to O'Reilly's "publishing program being hit on multiple fronts, including the continued downturn in the tech sector, outsourcing of jobs, and the decline of independent booksellers". After pulling the plug on publishing the book, O'Reilly proposed an alternative "pay for download" model, whereby the PDF file could be downloaded for a price from the publisher's site.

Richard decided against this model, primarily due to the inability for a customer to sample the content prior to purchase. Instead, he took the bold step of self-publishing - by putting the PDF files on his website under a creative commons license, and requesting a voluntary paypal contribution for the content.

If you have any interest in the people who made the open source and free culture movements the forces to reckon with that they are, Richard's interviews are an absolute MUST READ. They give you the background into the personalities that you cannot find anywhere, and the interviews are incredibly detailed. In fact in preparing for my interview with Richard Jefferson a few weeks back I referred to Richard Poynder's basement interview of Mr. Jefferson to get some insight into his background. It's obvious that this has been a labor of love, and it's telling that his O'Reilly editor proposed the pay-for-download model because he wished to find another way to both publish and be associated with the fine material Richard had produced.

The interviews that Richard has compiled thus far include Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, Eric Raymond, founder of the Open Source Institute, Lawrence Lessig, creator of the Creative Commons license and the person who created the "free culture" monicker, Richard Jefferson, creator of the Biological Open Source License, and others.

Richard blogs at The full text of his interviews and biographies can be found from his site, or by doing a search for "Basement Interviews".

Richard agreed to speak with me about the free culture world and what he found to be interesting about the open source movements.