Free Software and Cars | osp blog

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Free Software and Cars

In this recent Toyota campaign, a race-driver draws a font. And if you watch the fast-paced 'making-of' video closely, it seems that Please Make Me Design (a band of type-designers from Brussels) used Free Software to produce it: FontForge and OpenLayers are used to create the project.


A few years ago, I started to collect Free-Software-screenshots-featuring-cars. I was thinking about the design of softwares, which means to somehow imagine how a tool will be used, even before it exists. I started looking at the kinds of screenshots F/LOSS graphics projects put out to advertise their projects, because it might show something about the nature of the practice that it intends to support. At that time, many of them featured ... cars. Confirming all the gendered cliché's of your typical software developer, Scribus, Gimp and Inkscape had independently decided to feature high powered, mean machines as the main subject to demo their softwares with. Luckily, the collection never grew very large, and I am starting to think there is a chance the F/LOSS community finally will is coming to terms with its own blind spot vis-a-vis the lack of diversity within.


"There is no such thing as a perfect application, just as there are no perfect automobiles, and the designers know this" ((Gregory Pittman compares the look-and-feel of Scribus to that of a Mercedes car. Scribus mailinglist,

To see Free Software being featured in a car-ad is an exciting development; it hints at the possibility of those tools being interesting and mature enough to appear on the radar of design agencies. But it is also frustrating that designers + developers meet on the same predictable representation of technology.