Dessert Island Contest

by openclipart - uploaded on September 4, 2020, 3:57 pm

From now until Wednesday, September 30, 2020, upload your best original and remixed clipart using the tag #dessert-island-content and our patron saint, Phil Shapiro will pick his favorite and award $100 to the winner. Have fun!

To celebrate the kickoff we rolled out a new feature #CLIPDOWN. Now basic markdown support including notifications if your name like @pshapiro is tagged in descriptions or comments.

To get to know your patron saint to get inside his mind so you can make the best clipart to win his heart, here is an interview with @pshapiro:


I'm a geek educator working at a small public library in the Washington DC-area - Takoma Park Maryland Library. Our library offers 27 Linux stations to the public. (Our computers use a commercial solution,, built on top of Fedora. It's a multiseat solution. See for an explanation about this.)

I answer people's questions who use these computers. The library is currently closed, but thankfully I still receive my full salary.

Several years ago, I asked my supervisor if my job title could be "Public Geek" because I'm "public" and I'm "geek." She said, "Fine."

2. When did you start using Openclipart?

I'm a longtime fan of open source and open culture tools. I've been using Opensclipart since the time the site was first set up. I love talking it up at my public library job, too. I became interested in SVG graphics soon after a children's story of mine was illustrated, animated, and narrated by a talented educator, Kimberly Rice, in Oklahoma City. Back in 2002, out of the blue, she sent me this version of my children's story - The Great Ping Pong Ball Experiment, which she had created in Flash. When I heard two years later that Inkscape is free software for creating SVG's, I knew my role was to help promote it. I've been doing that via articles I've written, videos I've made, and contests I'm sponsoring. Particularly proud of these two videos -- and this promo video I made way back in 2007. (That's me playing guitar in the video.)

3. Why do you support Open Source Software?

I support open source software for many reasons. It points towards a more inclusive, more participatory -- and therefore less violent society. Open source fosters entrepreneurship by lowing the barrier to entry for new businesses. (Google may have never started without the free Linux server software the business was built upon.) I love the way open source creates bridges across cultures. Some of the people I admire in open source live in countries such as Romania, Hungary, Albania -- places where people typically would not have the money to be buying expensive software from Adobe and others. Yet, with open source, these individuals' talents can flourish and they can participate as co-equals with others in the global creative community.

4. What do you know about art and why is Openclipart ART?

I confess that art is not an expertise of mine, but I love the way art brings feelings and ideas alive. These days, all good teaching includes art of some kind art. Art stimulates the imagination -- and a stimulated imagination is needed for learning to take place. (I see the world thru the ideas of a teacher.) Some of the art on Openclipart takes my breath away -- it is so good. My absolute favorite piece is African Women With Vessels.

5. What is a normal day like for you as a major contributor to culture?

Let's do a normal day for me pre-pandemic. My library work shift goes from noon to 8 pm weekdays -- so I might typically wake up around 9 am. Check my email. Run some errands. Sometimes pick up or drop off donated computers at my storage unit. (I volunteer my time refurbishing computers to deliver to people who need them. Get to work. Before attending to anything else, make sure I've browsed YouTube for newly uploaded funny videos. Make myself some green tea. Plunk myself back down at my desk and wait for people to start asking me computer questions. My job is quite a lot like a Linux genius bar. The difference is that I do not have to follow any script when I give people answers to questions. I give them the best possible answer I can. After school, I often toss math questions to students who stop by my office. See

Once, a few years ago, someone came to my office and said: "I have a difficult Linux question I'd like to ask you." I replied, "The more difficult, the better." I was able to figure out his laptop wifi driver issue that had stumped him for a long time. I think he might have been surprised at the qualify of service he received for free at his public library.

6. You donate a lot of your time to the commons? What does the commons and contribution mean to you?

I'm inspired by Tim O'Reilly's credo -- "Create more value than you capture." If we all did that, we'd have a lot fewer problems in this world.

7. How do you make money and survive?

My public library job pays me a comfortable salary. Also, I save money by not subscribing to cable television. I don't smoke. Don't got to movies. The only vice I have is that I occasionally use proprietary software. I also set aside about $500 per year for overdue library books because I have six different library cards and keeping track of the books can sometimes be a bit unwieldy. See

8. How are we going to survive as a race and people in the current climate?

First step is to get out and vote. Send step is to continue the nurturing traditions that brought civilization to its current state. Look to inspiration from people like Steve Wozniak and Tim Berners-Lee. Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, but didn't want to profit from him. Imagine, for a moment, if he had been an employee at Apple, Microsoft -- or God-forbid - Facebook. He wasn't. He was an employee at CERN - and a person with a great love of humankind. More people ought to be composing songs to him.

9. Any words of wisdom for contributors to get out of the rut of reading news nonstop?

Every day I push myself to leave my comfort zone - to find a more comfortable comfort zone. Joking aside, it's a great thrill to teach yourself a new tech skill each and every week. Teach yourself the skill and then tell your friends about it. For example, learn to use the digital storytelling web service. (Here is something I made with that.

Strive to create something that nobody has ever done before. 8K digital storytelling using LibreOffice Draw on YouTube? Check - done that. (Follow up to my 4K video - which features Openclipart graphics.

Engage more in wondering. Wondering brought me to this YouTube video in August, 2013, when it had just recently been uploaded. I told editors at MAKE magazine about the video. They wrote two blog posts. This

video then appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, and a bunch of other places. I didn't build the bicycle elevator, but I did find it, which

is a small accomplishment in its own right.

I do some small scale making myself. Last year, at the Northern Virginia Maker Faire, I showed this game, Thunk, which is a cross between

Frisbee and table tennis. A battery-powered leaf blower throws colorful ping pong balls up into the air which people try to catch using butterfly

nets. The game is intended to be very fun, but not too tiring. I invented it as one extra solution to combat obesity. I give away the game for free.

Anyone can build or sell it. See video at

10. How do you keep so positive?

I make fun of my friends a lot - and they make fun of me even more. Also, I interact with people who are building a better world - and avoid cynics whenever I can. Lastly, look for opportunities to be silly. Then, dive right in.

Read more about Phil Shapiro on his webpages




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