A F/LOSS toolkit for publishing and sharing books and other long-form textual materials over the Web.

Vulgo promotes a more sustainable and critical way of sharing textual contents over the Web. It uses FLOSS, Free Licences and plain text formats. It ambitions to coordinate tools&methods to overcome the hegemony of Google Books-Amazon in book circulation, which often appear above the publisher itself in search engines.

Our workflow for online publishing is characterized by 2 main elements:

  1. it uses plain/markup text formats instead of PDF — an ex-proprietary format not suitable for reading in the browser. Vulgo will work with HTML, from a FLOSS publishing pipeline.
  2. it invites readers to help in diffusing texts. When you select some text the FLOShare pop-up appears and helps you to share it on any web site. It backlinks to the original text and clearly mention the license.

We'll publish our collection of short stories Internet Mon Amour (IMA), relying on the Vulgo publishing pipeline (2 versions, emacs' org-mode and markdown+pandoc).

IMA presents stories of ordinary digital technological misuses and possible ways out. It's being used in CIRCE's workshops.

PDF and more with an hacker attitude

The Vulgo project opposes the main mode of circulation of published books online: PDF.

It also proposes a different approach from the usual non-proprietary oriented alternative to PDF-EPUB. Unfortunately this promising format is stuck in the struggle between the main web-browsers developers and the IDPF that publishes the EPUB standard, resulting in a refusal of adoption.

Though we don't want to enter the politics of standard making, we know that despite its promises, the current EPUB format is:

  • not readable enough on our free-software systems,
  • difficult to use for non-tech people (you need to edit XML)
  • definitely not shareable enough (you need an extensions to read an epub file on a web browser).

This is why Vulgo proposes another approach to publish and distribute open-license books online.

There are many md-to-HTML publication systems available, such as

The issue with them, is that they are all centered on the production of technical documentation, and not oriented towards online reading of other textual materials. We want to rethink this workflow for book publishing rather than making manuals.

Similarly, at first sight there is a vast number of initiatives and mature projects quite similar to FLOShare. For example some released FLOSS versions are or The way in which most people have experienced these systems, though, is through many online news and newspapers websites.

But the most used tools are subordinated to some specific corporate platforms, often burdened with too many sharing possibilities. These are too much focused on the destination, not enough on the source, and absolutely not on the sharing process. By recentering our tool on backlinking, and by giving importance to free licenses, we want it to promote a new kind of book circulation.

Of course, taken individually, the elements of the Vulgo-Floshare project are all similar to existing projects. But we think that the way it coordinates existing elements in one easy-to-use-and-deploy toolkit could be meaningful. The overall attitude is a hacker one.

The Vulgo workflow is being developed in order to provide an easy to use, text-centered tool to publish IMA and other texts on the web.

The Big Picture

Distribute content, or PDF mania

Every publisher wants to distribute some contents online. The choice, mostly for historical reasons, has fallen rightly on PDF. So there are the materials, and entire books available for download in PDF format. Excellent…

But the PDF is a great PRINT format, as you know. It's not easy to modify, it is not easy to extract the data, it is not even a free format. In today's world of mobile devices its limits are even more evident: try scrolling through a PDF on your mobile phone…

The "preview" question

Global "competitors", such as GoogleBooks and Amazon, often use other (and even more closed) formats than PDF; others, such as slideshows and similar portals, show directly the files (not infrequently, violating distribution licenses and copyright), but in general they all offer previews of the contents as a bait to buy.

The diffusion of the link to the content (advertising and loyalty)

These same systems use social networks to propagate links to the content, in the form of "like", "tell your friends that you have bought/read", "review", "leave feedback", etc. To create similar services for a situation like independent publishers seems absolutely impossible. The PDF readers are an example of difficult/poorly functional softwares which in any case. So usually you opt to pass the content on social media directly through your own account. And PDFs circulate without any regards to the source.

Copy and paste?

On the other hand, PDFs in any form are unlikely to allow copy and paste in a simple and comfortable way, so the posts on the social are relatively complicated to do. Most systems prevent with DRMs or greatly limits the copy-paste, in contradiction with the the desire to disseminate content in PDF format and have it read, and advertise this reading…

The FLOShare way: help us make copy-paste!

The FLOShare component of VULGO uses the copy-paste function to spread (a piece of) the content, providing backlinks to the original content. You are asking your readers to help you in the dissemination of your content, in your way (backlink to author, website, license, buy a copy, etc.)

drop us a line to have a demo of FLOShare at work!