Are the Open Data Warriors Fighting for Robin Hood or the Sheriff?: Some Reflections on OKCon 2011 and the Emerging Data Divide (via Gurstein’s Community Informatics)
This is thoughtful posts in which Michael Gurstein contextualises his (much needed) critique of the Open Everything movement of – as he puts it – Ubergeeks. That is, the already empowered, highly technoliterate and most commonly white, Euro-males or their descendants or colonial favourites, to put it strongly and a bit exaggerated (in order to bring across the point).
Add to Gurstein’s critique the problem of materiality focused on in this blog, then we have a perfect
means justifying the end (haha, only just realised this now, this is of course wrong) instance of the end justifying the means and a waiting around for the trickle-down effect scenario. I.e. “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows”.
Perhaps it is time to talk of tech-neo-colonialism. Recall, that many – obviously deluded and misled, yet enthusiastic – white men and women were convinced that they were saving savages from miserable, inhuman livelihoods and – importantly – closed down societies and introducing them to the right (democratic) path. The road to hell……
This is a good, informative piece revealing some important foundations of the jurisprudential (or legal and political philosophy) properties of property. All property relations are conditional – the concept of absolute ownership is an idea that serves a logical function in some liberal jurisprudence and a misleading rhetorical device for various uninformed libertarians with no social conscience.
Further details developed here:
Pedersen, J.M. (2010) “Properties of Property: A Jurisprudential Analysis“, The Commoner, Special Issue, Volume 14, Winter 2010, 137-210
The GNU General Public License is a very interesting document from a jurisprudential point of view and from a commoning perspective. It gives structure to a software commons through its articulation of (conditional) reciprocity in perpetuity. Free Software is therefore not an open-access commons, but have in the GPL a boundary that is only permeable under certain conditions, which prevent the software pool from drying up. The culture of hackers sitting at home and in their work places coding while selling their labour for other purposes, however, is not protected from enclosure. The development of Free Software code – including the design of graphical user interfaces, which in effect shape most people’s (cognitive) relations/interactions with cyberspace – is no longer an emergent property of global civil society, no longer led by voluntary associations (Debian being one of the main exceptions to prove the rule), but is controlled in corporate environments, led by such corporate giants as IBM and Novell, as well as Red Hat. That is, guided as the usual business.
A critical analysis of the GPL constitutes the main section(s) in “Free Software as Property” and is pasted below without page numbers, illustrations and some formatting mangled. Get the excerpt in PDF or the full chapter, or read on without page numbers and illustrations:
….These organisational lessons provided by the example of Free Software have been the subject of a paper by cyberspace visionary Douglas Rushkoff, originally written for the London think tank Demos:
Two Volume Special Issue of The Commoner: Property, Commoning and Commons
Call for Contributions to Volume 2:
Download a PDF of the call.
In legal and philosophical terms the organisation of a commons is encoded into property protocols, which structure its use, access and decision-making rights and responsibilities. Property, then, is central to debates about commons and commoning: how do commoners relate to each other with regard to a given resource and how is a commons defined vis-a-vis the rest of the world?
As discussed in Volume 1, property relations are not only exclusive, private property rights as instantiated within capitalist democracy (a particular conception of property). As a jurisprudential concept, property can be used to understand, analyse, reflect upon and organise social relations with regard to things in any context (the general conception of property). The conflation of the general with the particular conceals the historical and anthropological fact that property can be and is understood (very) differently and hence consolidates existing property regimes.
The purpose of this two volume Special Issue is to instigate further debate about property, commoning and commons. The call for contributions to the second volume continues on page two, following details about the first volume. Continue reading
This is an excerpt that introduces Garrett Hardin’s influential fiction about a tragedy of commons and reveals its misappropriation of Aristotle’s concept of distribution of care. While there is little of philosophical interest in Hardin’s fiction, it has had a tremendous impact on policy – it is one of the most important gospels of privatisation in the early stages of neoliberalism. May it rest in peace…..
The excerpt is without page numbers and with the footnotes as endnotes and other bits of formatting (especially lost italics for emphases) mangled in the transition from OpenOffice.org to WordPress. If you want proper formatting, get this excerpted PDF (pages 143-152), or the full chapter or the entire essay. See also ‘Free Software as Property’ for an application of the critique.
The distribution of care and the tragedy of the commons.
The Tragedy of the Commons (Hardin 1968) is a story that has been much debated since its publication, but the terrain that it covers is not new. It can be traced back to the distribution of care, a philosophical concept first introduced by Aristotle. The distribution of care concerns who takes care of what and how with regard to goods and resources. For Aristotle, care would be most adequately administered if distributed to individuals, not managed in commons. He took note of “how immeasurably greater” the pleasure is, “when a man feels a thing to be his own” (Aristotle, Politics, Book 2, Part 5). Accordingly, he did not have great sympathy for commons: