Music to the ears – about GNOME Asia 2014 and an idea for the next one

Zoë, our new born. The inconspicuous man behind her is Zhang Weiwu

Zoë, our new born. The inconspicuous man behind her is ZHANG Weiwu

While I was busy nursing my one-month old daughter Zoë, my husband ZHANG Weiwu showed up in Gnome Asia 2014 and talked about usable design – he is perhaps happy to get noticed once or twice:)

The following is his guest writing, since he does not have a blog of his own:

Lenka Kripac for this Gnome Asia

GNOME Asia 2014 is again phenomenal: women leadership (was there, now better), a gender-balanced audience, warm local media coverage, diverse topics, and live golden fish under the smoking area’s floor – of which I should have taken an photo;)

If you didn’t present, you should watch this music-video mini-documentary and get thrilled – probably one of the best ever produced about opensource conferences:

You would certainly notice the great choice of music. The key frames are matched to the beats, a creative use of Mickey Mousing technique.

The music and lyrics stirs up passion about excitement to grow, about change, diversity and youth, which fits GNOME quite well. Unsurprisingly, this happen to be exactly the message Microsoft marketing guys prepared for public reception of Windows 8 too. It was chosen and licenced for the theme music of an official Windows 8 TV Ad. In fact, the music made a global name thanks to its wide used in Windows 8 Ads, and a rapt audience associates the two. You would hear people talking about this piece as “Windows 8 music”, forgoing its original title “Everything at Once”:

The music was written and produced by Australian singer Lenka, whose debute piece “The Show”, with a distinct personal touch, compares the world to a stage. My favourate.

Where the music fades, the debates go on. But not much about Windows 8, instead, it is about copyright. The use of this music is unlicenced.

In modern days China, copyright is so neglected, that if you try to licence that song for this conference, you walk into the copyright owner’s branch office and they would not believe what they heard. A dilemma between doing the stupid thing of actually go and licencing it, and, doing the wrong thing of going without licencing.

But I am not to join the debate. I am writing to offer a new idea.

Woody Guthrie for the next show

Since we will have to use a different piece of music for the next Gnome Asia. There is one that just fits.

It’s Woody Guthrie’s “Howdi Do”. I have not counted, but there should be at least twenty times “Howdi Do”, “How do you do”, “Howdy” in the song. The music is a warm picture of people shaking hands, greeting each other.

This is how we are going to do it:

GNOME had been presented by a robot before:


We arange someone to play the role of our cameo robot, and ask every guest to shake hands with it – and video it:

Robot shaking hands with people. We don’t have to use a real robot – you know, it’s cheaper to let human does the robot’s work.

Then we match the hand-shaking to the lyrics: “Howdi Do”, “How do you do”,”Howdi”. We could do the Mickey Mousing again.

Why Woody? Because his music is quite old, a lot of them produced as early as 1930, under which time copyright has to be declared to be valid.

But also, I chose Woody because he made a strong stance against copyright. On the typescript submitted for copyright of “This Land Is Your Land”, Guthrie wrote:

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”
– source:

I jumped out of my chair cheering him when I first learned this. An opensource pioneer in 1945? A free spirit he is.

I hope our next show attracts so much attention that someone coming to us claiming copyright, then we could make a good piece of news about it. EFF did act once to defend a Woody song against copyright claims.

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