2008/06/09

Two Bits, understanding free software culture & internet

Kelty, C. M. (2008) Two Bits: the cultural significance of free software. Durham: Duke University Press. [disponível em livro, pdf e html]:
"Understanding Free Software in detail is the best way to understand many contentious and confusing changes related to the Internet, to “commons,” to software, and to networks. Whether you think first of e-mail, Napster, Wikipedia, MySpace, or Flickr; whether you think of the proliferation of databases, identity thieves, and privacy concerns; whether you think of traditional knowledge, patents on genes, the death of scholarly publishing, or compulsory licensing of AIDS medicine; whether you think of MoveOn.org or net neutrality or YouTube—the issues raised by these phenomena can be better understood by looking carefully at the emergence of Free Software." [p.3]

"Geek is meant to signal, like the public in “recursive public,” that geeks stand outside power, at least in some aspects, and that they are not capitalists or technocrats, even if they start businesses or work in government or industry. Geek is meant to signal a mode of thinking and working, not an identity; it is a mode or quality that allows people to find each other, for reasons other than the fact that they share an office, a degree, a language, or a nation." [p.35]

"Free Software is an experimental system, a practice that changes with the results of new experiments. The privileging of adaptability makes it a peculiar kind of experiment, however, one not directed by goals, plans, or hierarchical control, but more like what John Dewey suggested throughout his work: the experimental praxis of science extended to the social organization of governance in the service of improving the conditions of freedom. What gives this experimentation significance is the centrality of Free Software—and specifically of Linux and Apache—to the experimental expansion of the Internet. As an infrastructure or a milieu, the Internet is changing the conditions of social organization, changing the relationship of knowledge to power, and changing the orientation of collective life toward governance. Free Software is, arguably, the best example of an attempt to make this transformation public, to ensure that it uses the advantages of adaptability as critique to counter the power of planning as control." [p. 239]

"Being open means not only sharing the “source code” (content and modules), but devising ways to ensure the perpetual openness of that content, that is, to create a recursive public devoted to the maintenance and modifiability of the medium or infrastructure by which it communicates. Openness trumps “sustainability” (i.e., the self-perpetuation of the financial feasibility of a particular organization), and where it fails to, the commitment to openness has been compromised." [p. 256]

"In the last few years, talk of “social software” or “Web 2.0” has dominated the circuit of geek and entrepreneur conferences and discussions: Wikipedia, MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube, for example. (...). Many of these directly use or take inspiration from Free Software. For all of them, intellectual property is a central and dominating concern. Key to their novelty is the leveraging and coordinating of massive numbers of people along restricted lines (i.e., music preferences that guide music discovery). (...) But they are not (yet) what I would identify as recursive publics: most of them are commercial entities whose structure and technical specifications are closely guarded and not open to modification. While some such entities may deal in freely licensed content (for instance, Creative Commons–licensed music), few are interested in allowing strangers to participate in, modulate, or modify the system as such; they are interested in allowing users to become consumers in more and more sophisticated ways, and not necessarily in facilitating a public culture of music. They want information and knowledge to be free, to be sure, but not necessarily the infrastructure that makes that information available and knowledge possible. Such entities lack the “recursive” commitment." [p. 303] [there is no bold in the original book]

No comments:

Post a Comment