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<nettime> Mute Magazine - new publishing, networked economy
Josephine Berry Slater on Tue, 10 Jan 2006 18:19:23 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Mute Magazine - new publishing, networked economy

Mute Magazine - new publishing, networked economy

We've crossed oceans of time for you to find us.



For years, it has been Mute's dream to conduct its publishing on a more
participatory platform. Starting with our mini-manifesto Ceci N'est Pas
Un Magazine (Sept 2001), we plotted the project as it moved through
various developmental stages and now, after years of planning and
building, it is  alive and kicking at brand new site Metamute.org.

With the move to this new location, Mute has embraced the evolving
culture of Open Publishing and finally made the web its home. Mute
content is now made freely available as soon as it is published and
users can post to the site in numerous newly created areas.

Mute still retains a printed magazine (now quarterly), which is produced
using print on demand (POD) technology and extends our core editorial
activity through themed issues. We have also added a facility for users
to make their own personalised collections of POD content, straight from
the site.

Another online facility, called the Agent Network, exists for
distributing publications. Through this, users can sign up to distribute
Mute in their own neighbourhoods and communities and receive a portion
of the cover price in return. At Metamute.org, you can register, input
details about sales outlets and events to build up the existing network,
as well as manage your own activity by organising orders, deliveries and
payments. Our hope is that this feature will help get the magazine to
the full diversity of its audience and build a more sustainable economy
for the organisation as a whole. On the back of this model, we also
encourage users to get involved with editorial and promotion too.

Mute continues to feature the critical writing it is known for, but by
using the internet as a production base and home, it can explore the
web's multimedial nature and better engage its  audience. In this
respect, other notable projects associated with our relaunch are a
BitTorrent, the Public Library, and a series of online art commissions.

Finally, keep in mind that what you are looking at is the BETA version
of Metamute.org. This is currently being tested to gauge usability,
design and architecture. This phase will be complete once beta users'
feed back has been acted on. If you would like to be part of this
process and would find a beta users' document helpful, you can view it
here, http://www.metamute.org/en/beta

Please come and join us - Mute http://metamute.org/

What's new?

Metamute.org is a membership based site where you can log in to submit
articles or upload media. There are a variety membership categories,
reflecting levels of involvement and usage. These are: anonymous,
authenticated, subscriber, agent and editor.

**Free to share magazine content**
Simultaneous to its publication in print, Mute will be making its
magazine content freely available online for non-commercial use,
reprinting and translation.

The following areas of the site are open for members' contributions:
News & Analysis, Public Library (P2P file sharing service), Calendar,
Forums & lists.

**POD and User POD [*]**
Print on demand is a high quality, low cost form of digital book
printing, through which one or 1000s of copies can be printed in several
locations throughout the world. Mute has opted for this technology for
reasons of cost, but also so we can be more responsive to developments
on our website. Outside of our regular magazine run, we will be
producing a variety of other POD imprints.
As a user, you can compile content from across the site ? articles,
images, text from other websites that have been posted in the News
section, etc. This (your 'POD' book) can then be printed and delivered
at low cost, or just printed off on your home computer. The digital
print process also means you can leave a PDF of your book online to
share with others, in our  POD Park.

**Public Library (PL)**
Media based works can be uploaded/ downloaded by any user at our P2P
BitTorrent, the Public Library. At the PL, you can also share your
opinions on the files available and we encourage users to regard this
reviewing as integral to the uploading and downloading of their media

**Content filtering  [*]**
The Mute site is vast and will become even more so. To make its content
more accessible, we have added a system of classification which helps
you sort the content of the site. We feel strongly that the new Mute
should be about your view of things as much as ours; to make this happen
we invite you to expand on the subjects we've included in our category
listings. Help guides will soon be available on how to do this, and we
will also keep our own classifications constantly under review (the
present listing is definitely just a beginning!).

We have opened up our shop to allow users to sell their cultural
products and digital downloads next to ours. In line with this, we have
also enabled multi-currency transactions via PayPal or credit card to
make it easier for users to make associated financial transactions.

**Agent network, the Networked Distribution Services/NDS  [*]**
Mute invites site users to join our agents scheme, which rewards the
local distribution and sale of Mute with 30% of the cover price. The
system - whose working title is NDS (Networked Distribution Service) -
is made possible by software which allows orders, deliveries and
payments to be tracked online. Mute's agent network is also open to
users offering their publications for distribution and sale: through
this process of mutual support, we aim to contribute to alternative
distribution networks globally.

**Translations  [*]**
Users can translate articles on the Mute site into a variety of
languages through a simple online editing process. Volunteering to
translate can be done without contacting the editor, as the site
provides an easy to use text editor and automated submission process.
Mute is still working on the protocols involved, as multiple
translations in (likely) varying degrees of completion will need to be
categorised systematically and original authors consulted on their
preferred relationship to new texts.

**Banner monitoring**
Metamute.org allows web advertisers to have greater levels of control
over, and awareness of, the activity of their ads. Information relating
to banners' performance can be viewed and analysed by day, week and
month, and banners can be switched on and off for specific periods of
time. As in other areas of the site, this activity is contained in a
personalised work area which automatically responds to members' status
and registration details.

**Project commissions**
Metamute.org has a projects area where we will regularly feature new art
and cultural commissions.

[*] Items accompanied by this sign are still in varying stages of
development, although they are a full part of our project planning.


Participating in Mute happens through three roughly drawn categories,
namely Content, Distribution and Technology.

On the content side, our OpenPublishing features mean users are free to
contribute articles to the site. Should you want to have greater
involvement, you can also work as an as editorial agent in closer
contact with Mute editors.

This deeper dimension of participation engages the hybrid nature of
Mute, since it highlights the gap between open content and content
commissioned and edited in the conventional way. Mute's print magazine
will be heavily influenced by what users contribute through the
OpenPublishing channels: getting involved in between the two will help
editors make a more responsive magazine.

On the distribution side, our agent network and online distribution
system mean users can help Mute and other publications directly in their
distribution efforts. You can add details of appropriate outlets and
events and/or actually sell the magazine for a commission.

Mute engages with FLOSS as a social movement. In addition to doing
editorial work, it has done this through technology initiatives. To
carry on this work we need your involvement and support, whether it is
in the area of research, coding, finances or another realm of activity
we haven't imagined yet..

How do you get involved?


OpenPublishing areas of the site are places that you can openly post to
once you are registered as a member. These include:

* News & Analysis ? here you can repost or write on any topic you feel
is of relevance to Mute editorial. The title may evoke a factual,
'newsy' orientation, but we welcome material on any subject, including
fiction and reviews!
* Public Library ? here you can upload any size of media file along with
opinions and reviews relating to them.
* Calendar ? here you can post details of events you think other Mute
users may be interested in. Take care to fit your item to the format:
short and snappy is best!
* Forums & Lists ('Discussion') ? our forums allow for our email lists
to feed into the site, so you can either post from inside the website or
through your own email client. Mute has several lists, including the
general discussion list Mute Social. To join any of them, visit the URL
* Create a POD ? users can make their personal compilations of content
from the site, keep them stored there as PDFs for other users to browse,
and make them available for ordering and delivering as a POD book.

Moderation [*]

Users can rank articles and comments. This information is aggregated by
the website to prioritise articles and comments for transfer to the home
and main section pages.


If you want to become an agent please contact the Mute webmaster on
webmaster AT metamute.org  Our agent types are broken down into:

* Editorial agents
* Distribution agents
* Promotional agents


The mission!

The Mute site has been designed to address the difficulties facing a
small publishing cultural group, the most persistent of which remain
reaching your audience and covering your production costs. Since our
history is probably representative of that of other small cultural
organisations, we would also like to use any lessons learnt as a
starting point for a broader discussion on economic working models. The
holy grail remains building a sustainable content economy that is not
centred primarily on advertising. We want to see whether the other
'traditional' revenue streams of distribution & sales, subscriptions
and, latterly, 'services' (like software provision and consultancy) can
be developed to generate a working financial model. Mute has received
increasingly regular and generous public funding over the years, and
regards this as the kind of base investment other businesses might
receive from the private sector. These funds currently contribute to
basic running costs and special projects, such as software and workshop
initiatives. FLOSS culture has also become an important part of our
organisational model, as we use free software tools and reciprocate
through knowledge and code.

How are we doing it?


PODs help Mute continue as a print publication by eradicating the set up
costs associated with traditional printing methods. By allowing you to
print precisely the number of publications you need at any given time,
PODs allow publishers to spread out their expenditure on printing. You
can subdivide your total outlay on a print run into however many parts
you need to, meaning the way you spend money is more in keeping with how
you receive it (in dribs and drabs!). The publications also get printed
in different locations around the world, significantly reducing shipping

Agents network, the Networked Distribution Services/NDS  [*]

To reach your audience you need good distribution. Having had a mixed
experience with traditional magazine distributors (where, especially for
international sales, an enormous amount of postage cost and actual
magazines go to waste meeting loosely calculated 'sale or return' order
numbers from sales outlets), Mute has now started using an NGO-built
'Contacts Management' web system to attempt a more precise operation.
The software we are working with is called CiviCRM: this was developed
to reach voters in the US Democratic presidential nomination campaign of
Howard Dean, but can be used just as well by a small magazine to
organise relationships with its distributors. We are creating our
network of local agents to sell Mute together with other publications at
a variety of outlets and events. All orders, deliveries and payments are
conducted over the net. To find out more or help out, see

Donations  [*]

Mute is developing a variety of fund raising drives to raise donations
from its users. We plan for them to support the organisation generally,
as well as specific projects, and they are presently categorised into
the following

* Mute organisation - a donation of £10 ($15 / eur 15) or higher from a
25% percentage of our user base would go a long way to helping Mute
sustain its ongoing editorial activity and web infrastructure. We are
presently exploring what users would like to receive in return, going
from simple name credits to other free services.

* Print fund - this fund is being developed to support translation and
international re-printing of Mute content and the NDS 'agents network'
service for Mute and other publishers. The print fund will also help
facilitate collaboration with other organisation in different regions.

* FLOSS and Web2POD/ NDS - this project will will contribute to the
ongoing development of POD technology and Mute's NDS service. Here we
will be looking from small donations from users as well as partnerships
with organisations who want to use the technology or services.

* Public Library - the public library BitTorrent needs financial support
to pay for server bandwidth use and site maintenance. Users can offer
non-monetary help by contributing some of their own bandwidth, while
financial donations can help with technical maintenance.

Partnering with Mute

Sell your products on Metamute

Metamute has a shop where you can sell your cultural products. In return
for listing your product and integrating it into our sales system, we
ask for 25% of your sales price. You can also offer your product on our
NDS 'agent network' system where sales and distribution arrangements are
negotiated individually between sellers and distributors.

Distribute with NDS

NDS is a DiY distribution system for paper print currently being
developed by Mute. You can offer your publication to the network's
members worldwide and see if they will sell it for you at local outlets
and events. In return we ask that, as a user of NDS, you add any
relevant local contacts you have and also act as a distributor. NDS will
be financed through user donations and fund raising. This service is
currently under development and will not be available until March 2006;
please get in touch if you have any suggestions for development or
improvement of our plans.

Become a FLOSS partner

We have developed a series of new tools for the FLOSS CMS Drupal and
CiviCRM, and there are several ways you can get involved in this
project. Firstly on a technical level, as a voluntary developer or
researcher. Secondly on an economic level, as a contributor to the fund
being built to continue development. The following FLOSS projects are
available from Mute:

* Web2POD
* User POD tool
* Contextual and multi dimensional menu
* E-commerce modification for multi-currency, multi-region payment on
account tool
* Networked distribution services

Or look at the NDS Web2POD project invitation at http://linkme2.net/6n
(Dec 05).

Consulting with Mute

If you require a paid-for installation of the same system or consultancy
of any kind for your own project, please get in touch with Simon
Worthington on simon AT metamute.org or see http://3d.openmute.org where
Mute's software and consultancy activities are described at its project



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