In 2006 I started work on Add-Art the Firefox add-on which replaces ads on websites with rotating curated art shows. The add-on is in use by 15,000-20,000 users each week and has replaced ads for over 3 years. I use it every day and it delights me everytime.
Today I am moving on from my role as the lead developer of Add-Art.
Add-Art will continue to work, but it requires a new maintainer. Perhaps you or someone you know would be interested?
Why am I stepping away?
This is a big question and not easy to answer. Rather than explain it all myself, I’m going to quote heavily (from someone who also quoted heavily)
A few years ago, Michael Mandiberg sent an email announcing that he was retiring from his project “the Calls and Opps list.”
He wrote this:
At the end of one of their essays in one of their books Critical Art Ensemble offers their definition of the gift economy (from Lewis Hyde), which i remember as going something like this: at some points certain people have more time/labor or capital and can give it away to others who have less, which they do until they no longer have more time/labor/capital and then they cannot give it away, so they stop and someone else gives.
Deleuze (in one of his essays in one of his books) speaks of the idea of ‘becoming,’ and the way i always understood it was that an idea/person/etc should always be in the process of becoming something, as opposed to having become something. always evolving, changing, not staying still.
At this point i do not have the time/labor/capital to continue [this project]. i thought about possible methods of sustaining the project, (advertising, membership fee, etc) all of which turned the project into an institution. an institution is about as un-becoming as you can get, and also the last thing i want to be responsible for at this point. (smile.)
I’m now working with several institutions; as an artist in a commerical gallery, Regular Full Time Faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and co-founder of the School for Creative Activism, plus my own personal projects. I also need time to develop new things. I can’t do all these things and do them well. I need to make some decisions today so I can do quality work in the future.
What’s next? What does Add-Art need?
I will continue to help and advise with Add-Art, but I’m not doing a great job in leading it’s development. For some time I have only been able to dedicate the time and energy to maintain it, when it deserves to be updated and expanded.
Add-Art has several volunteer coders, but ideally would be led by someone with experience developing Add-ons. That person can work to maintain our code and expand it.
Currently Add-Art does not work with FireFox 4, the latest version. I don’t think it would take much to update our code. I also believe we are very close at enabling “channels” on Add-Art so that anyone (from the MoMA to some guy in his garage) could create shows that any user could choose to subscribe to. This would expand the art available to users, the user base, and likely the pool of volunteer coders. But development of new features has stalled of late.
The new lead developer wouldn’t need to worry about creating, curating, or administering shows. The week to week (minimal) administration of Add-Art is done by the wonderful and generous Hana Newman, to whom we are all grateful. Curators refer each other to the project and more or less manage themselves with Hana’s oversight. Additionally in 2011 there is the potential to partner with a (for now nameless) non-profit foundation that would make it easier to create an publish shows. With the addition of channels, this area could be essentially covered.
The main work to be done is re-invigorating development of Add-Art, expanding the number of volunteer developers and organizing their efforts, and taking Add-Art to the point where it becomes an autonomous Free Software project, or as close as possible.
If there’s more information I can provide, please let me know.
Steve Lambert | April 20, 2011