Visual Culture is an application to visualise, archive and exchange changes in design projects. Rooted in the vibrant world of free and open source software, Visual Culture will make novel collaboration methods accessible to a public of visual professionals. Working on your existing design files, Visual Culture will let you retrieve previous versions, and share and publish these versions with others.
HARNESS THE POWER OF GIT FOR VISUAL PROJECTS
As a group of designers, we use a software called Git to share files both between us and with the public. This system, originally developed for computer code, tracks the history of computer files, allowing one to go back to retrieve previous versions. These changes can be exchanged amongst users, allowing multiple people to work collaboratively on a project whilst having them keep their own versions and histories.
Git has been a crucial part in the success of the collaborative open source culture, being used to develop projects like Linux and Firefox. It is sophisticated and free. Yet the existing interfaces to Git are designed with text files in mind. They can show the history of text-files, but not of images, typefaces and vector drawings.
Visual Culture will be able to visualise the evolution of a design object: this is the evolution of a poster on which OSP worked together.
Visual Culture will allow designers to harness the full power of Git on their own computer in a visual workflow. Visual Culture offers visualisations of the different versions of files, allowing one to understand and explore the history of these digital objects, and to asses the extent of new modifications before one shares them with collaborators.
Once one has changed a file, these modifications can be shared with collaborators and with the public at large. Users of Visual Culture will be able to use existing (free) services for sharing and archiving: Gitorious, Github, Gitlab. As different collaborators start to publish, at multiple versions of a file can start to co-exist.
Visual Culture will make it more easy to collaborate on designs and to maintain different ‘forks’, parallel versions, of one project. For more information on the notion of the fork and how it applies in the culture of design, we refer to our article: I like tight pants and no-one starts from scratch: type design and the logic of the fork
Why fund it?
CONTRIBUTE TO A NEW APPROACH TO DESIGN
With OSP we have already started to transform Git into a visual publishing tool: on our website one gets to explore all the working files of our projects in a visual interface and to download them.
By funding Visual Culture, you contribute to a new open source design tool that proposes a new approach to design, and will be available to the design community at large—and to you!
DEVELOPMENT OF VISUAL CULTURE BY OSP - Open Source Publishing
photo: Julie Rouanne
As designers working with new media, appropriating existing tools and creating new design tools is a part of OSP’s practice.
Within the context of graphic design commissions, unfortunately, the time and the budget to further develop such tools is limited.
The amount raised through Kiss Kiss Bank Bank would allow two OSP members to take three months off from commissioned design work and develop Visual Culture from a proof of concept into an accessible tool for creative professionals.
In addition, this would allow us to create a further visibility for the project, by writing blog posts and documentation, and preparing a series of workshops.
Questions about the project
Doesn't GitHub already offer versioning for visual files?
Popular Git hosting service GitHub does offer visualisations for certain file types. OSP’s Eric Schrijver even worked with them to make possible the visualisation of type-face development: http://i.liketightpants.net/and/how-it-has-come-about-that-code-hosting-site-github-offers-visualisations-of-typeface-development
However, GitHub is proprietary software and it maintains it features only if there is a profit for them. The typeface visualisation has been removed in a more recent update.
Also, GitHub is on the internet. While they make a desktop application, it offers no visual versioning.
If I use Visual Culture, will everybody be able to change my files?
With Visual Culture, you work on your own computer. You exchange files (and changes to files) only if and when you want to.
There is a large difference between for example Dropbox based collaboration and Git based collaboration. Dropbox (or Google Drive, for that matter) will always add your changes automatically, whereas with Git you choose when and what to share.
Besides you can even use Visual Culture just for yourself, to keep track of the evolution of your design process.
What’s that poster I see in the video?
It’s OSP’s contribution to a project called Visual Grammar: http://www.modern-theory.com/projects/visual-grammar/
You can buy a silk-screen (of the final?) version here: http://www.modern-theory.com/shop_type/open-source-publishing/
You can download the source files here: http://osp.kitchen/work/visual-grammar/
Do I have to use Open Source Software to make use of Visual Culture?
Because with OSP we use only Open Source Software (Gimp, Scribus, Latex, Inkscape, HTML/CSS/JS) we will initially work on adding visualisation support for Open Source tools. We realise, though, that limiting Visual Culture to these tools will limit its usefulness for the bulk of designers that work with proprietary tools like Photoshop. So we will add support for popular proprietary formats as well. Normally we will develop for the open formats first, but if you sponsor us we can prioritise on the format of your choice! (see rewards).
How do I know OSP is up to the task?
As designers, we’ve earned our stripes—in a divided Belgium we’ve won both the most beautiful book Flanders award (Plantin Moretus) and the most beautiful book in Brussels/Wallonia (Prix Fernand Baudin Prijs). As developers, well the best way is to check what we have already done. Our proof of concept is our own website, which visually shows the contents of our Git repositories. The source code for this application is available online: .
What technology will you use to create Visual Culture?