Like so many different media facing the digital world, scrapbooking is floundering in the sea of the past. In a world where paper has become obsolete, and actual, physical copies of something mean nothing, we are crazy to cling to our old models of business, distribution and copyright. With Pixel Scrapper I hope to challenge these old ideas and discover ones that are suited to an artistic community that values its members both as users and creators.

I. Ease of Access

We are living in the digital era, at a time when any information is at our fingertips. At least, it should be at our fingertips. When I have to spend longer than a minute on a website looking for something, that is too long. If I have to spend longer than 5 seconds looking for something, that is too long.

The power of organization and design has been lost on every single digital scrapbooking website I have ever visited. I throw my hands up and yell in frustration at the madness that runs our community. Between the hundreds of blogs flung to the far reaches of cyberspace and the community sites that seem to have been designed to be as inaccessible as possible, it is impossible to find anything.

When I want a book I type the title into When I want some factual information I go to wikipedia. When I'm looking for my grandmother's birthday I go to facebook. And when I'm looking for something to help with my digital scapbooking… I go nowhere because there is no centralized community and database of digital scrapbookers. Sure, there are various sites with various things, but nowhere that I can be assured of finding what I want. And given the power of today's technology this is a serious failure.

The assets that people are creating, both for free and for sale, should be located in one space. Otherwise, their usefulness remains around zero. I have no way of knowing that you've made a pink ribbon that is perfect for my needs because I have no way of searching for it. If I can't find it, I won't use it, and then there's no point in you sharing it.

At Pixel Scrapper, I want you to be able to find what you’re looking for in 5 seconds flat.

II. Open and Sharing

The future, whether you are ready to accept it or not, will be run by communities and businesses that are willing to share their secrets with the world. I sit here typing this manifesto in OpenOffice, a free program that rivals Microsoft's Office Suite, preparing to post it to the internet with the help of my open source web browser Firefox, where I can view this website I built in Drupal, an open source web development platform. Did you know that most of the internet runs on Linux, an open source operating system, and that the majority of the languages used for developing dynamic web pages are also open source?

The programming community has greatly benefited from the open source movement, without which we'd still be in the dark ages. Microsoft likely would have been perfectly content to let developers and users alike drown in the misery of Internet Explorer 6 forever if Mozilla Firefox hadn't come and offered people a better alternative, forcing Microsoft to update their extremely out-of-date browser.  

Some people get nervous when open source is mentioned, like the world will be a terrible place if things are free. What they don't realize is that open source brings “better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in” (The Open Source Initiative). And I want to bring this idea to the community of digital scrapbooking.

Locking things up behind terrifying license info with giant “piracy” warnings will do you no good. These days people have the power to do what they want with your stuff. And whether this is good or right is out of the discussion. The discussion now is how to best deal with this and move forward. Communities that share their “secrets” and lay their products at the feet of the people benefit a million times back with community involvement, whether your users make your stuff better or add to it, what you originally created will become bigger and better than you could have originally imagined.

We all learned in kindergarten the importance of sharing. Just because the toy was yours didn't mean you shouldn't let your friend use it for a while. If you horde your toys you have no friends. The more you share the more friends you have and the more they share with you. Somewhere along the way we've lost this idea. If people like what you're making and they like you, they will give back so that you can keep doing what you're doing. And this is what I want to happen at Pixel Scrapper.

III. The Future

All of us have different motivations for our digital scrapbooking. Some of us do it just as a hobby and are happy to share and be shared with. Some of us do it as a business and hope to earn some extra income. I want this site to benefit both sides, and just because I advocate sharing does not mean I advocate against the transfer of money. The how and the why of money transfer is being revolutionized. No one really knows exactly what the best way is, but I feel safe in saying that current business models are not the way. And with Pixel Scrapper I really want to push the community to finding this future. To begin, I'm interested in the ideas expressed by Jason Roher in his "Free Distribution" article. Whether or not they will work is an experiment we have to try. I am tired of waiting for someone else to figure out where the future is going. I'm ready to be in the future now and with your help I hope to experiment and discover what the rest of the world should be doing. Instead of being backward and behind the times, let's be the model of what everyone else should be.


Marisa Lerin
May 1st, 2010