[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network

tterranova tterranova at tiscali.it
Fri Jan 13 07:40:39 EST 2012

I think that this touches on the problem I've been thinking about. The 
big issue right now is whether networked and personal media with all the 
range of applications and platforms running on the Internet are really 
going to have an impact on the outcome of this latest and rather big 
crisis of capitalism. I think we do need to locate 'open content and 
software' in this situation. The Internet has been 'massified' over the 
past ten years or so. Obviously 'massified' for networked personal media 
cannot mean the same thing as with broadcasting, industrial media, but 
there are undeniable processes of centralization and homogenization 
going on. It is also a corporate economy, thoroughly embedded in 
financial capital and business.
All I'm saying is that I think this changes the questions asked to open 
strategies of production and distribution. I think that we might agree 
with Dmytri when he says that they have been mostly incorporated or 
marginalized (with the possible exception of file sharing, torrent etc, 
whose inventor not by chance is the only Internet innovator of the year 
2000s not to have become a billionaire with it).
At the same time those researchers I mentioned in my first post are 
bringing back mixed news from ethnografic and critical research on  the 
corporate web's communication cultures and subjectivity (which is a 
shorthand of course for ways of feeling, sensing, understanding and 
living the world and relating to others). Users of corporate networked, 
personal media are experiencing a kind of communication that is 
compulsive, addictive but also deeply unsatisfying at many levels.
Let's take writing and publishing in the world of the corporate web. 
Access and content is free but the influence of marketing and business 
with their need to harvest personal data, their impact on the design of 
the software which must maximize capabilities targeted at income 
generation is felt at the level of the interface and also the larger 
culture I would say. People are publishing content, writing comments on 
corporate platform but this is producing mostly an endless circulation 
and clashes of opinions (the 'revolutionary' and 'militant' use of 
social networks is still the exception not the rule)
So free culture cannot be simply about copyright. It should be about the 
invention or even reinvention of tools which help to produce different 
ways of communicating through the Internet. The battle against the 
corporate giants must involve some imagination, the exercise of cultural 
sensitivity towards technological and economic innovation. Sensing the 
ways for example in which many users have become involuntary locked in 
certain ways of writing and publishing and imagining other ways of doing 
it which might be more attractive.
I have read enough of Dmytri's work to maybe guess that his answer is 
going to be that it will take money and wealth to do that - and I agree 
that the invention of new means of financialization, of creation of 
liquidity are crucial to give substance to current resistance against 
capitalist reentrenchment. But I also think that something must be done 
also at the level of the culture and tools of networked communication so 
that even those new means of financialization might find people who can 
actually make use of them in a different way.



Il 12/01/12 18.40, Dmytri Kleiner ha scritto:
> Definitely Simon. But as mentioned, this is only a tiny fringe. A 
> small percentage of the total number of cultural workers, who are are 
> currently working for the capitalist cultural industry.
> Thus, within Capitalism, our social capacity for the production of 
> open works will always be tiny in comparison to our social capacity 
> for "closed" works. Is this what we mean by "There is no 
> disconnect?"... that out of the entire body of our cultural productive 
> forces, a small minority is able to exist as open producers on the 
> fringes of capitalism? If this is the limit of our ambition, than 
> "Free Cultural" is nothing more than a sort of lumpen proletariat in 
> the cultural field.
> And end even within this meagre ambition of maintaing an "open" 
> subcultural fringe, there is still a "disconnect" with capitalism 
> since not only will capital not fund open works, but the logic of 
> capital conflicts with open practice in the space of what they 
> perceive as their rightful consumer market, as we have seen in the 
> persecution of artists such as John Oswald, Negitvland, DJ 
> Dangermouse, and many others, not to mention the war on file sharing, 
> etc.
> Is Free Culture content to be a beleaguered, insular, fringe? Or is 
> Free Culture meant to be a critique of our curent cultural industries? 
> Does it aim only for it's own meagre existence? Or does it aim for the 
> transformation of cultural production? If the answer is the later, 
> than this ambition can not be reconciled with capitalism.
> Or is Free Culture simply proposing the elimination of the popular 
> cultural industries and a massive descaling of cultural production and 
> employment? Even this is jousting a windmills. Capitalism will not 
> accept the argument that they should just chill out and abandoned 
> copyright because the culture they make sucks anyway, and that we can 
> make better works with the free time of dilettantes, studends and 
> hobyists.
> If this our position? Scrap big culture? Personally, like I suspect 
> many on list, I generally prefer more experimental and independent 
> cultural works and wouldn't really mis Hollywood and friends. But make 
> no mistake, understand that in taking such a position we are operating 
> without the solidarity of the vast majority of cultural consumers and 
> against the interests of the vast majority of people employed in the 
> cultural industries. Which means such a position has no social power, 
> no political power and no relevancy what so ever.
> Best,
> On 12.01.2012 18:12, Simon Biggs wrote:
>> This question of who pays for the writers to write isn't very
>> different as to who pays for artists. Many net artists receive no
>> payment for their work but they put their work in the public realm for
>> nothing anyway. Some artists in other media also work this way. Many
>> such artists do not look to their work to generate income directly but
>> indirectly - eg: having work in the public realm raises their profile
>> and they get museum shows and fees for that. Then they get tenured
>> academic positions in art schools because of their shows, etc... This
>> economic model has something in common with the software developer
>> model you mentioned Dmytri.
>> best
>> Simon
>> On 12 Jan 2012, at 16:56, Dmytri Kleiner wrote:
>>> On 12.01.2012 17:26, adam wrote:
>>>> Well I think the open source ethic is well aligned with capitalism.
>>>> There is no disconnect there.
>>> Yet, software has different economics than cultural works. Open 
>>> Source developers are paid by organisations that employ such 
>>> software in production, and thus the availability of open source 
>>> packages reduces their production costs, allowing them to retain 
>>> more earnings.
>>> The same situation occurs only infrequently when it comes to books, 
>>> there may be situations where it does, i.e. reference books or 
>>> documentation. I can see these being supported by organisations that 
>>> are consumers of such works, but not much else.
>>> So, if capital will not pay creators of open works. Who will? No 
>>> doubt, some fringe can be maintained by cultural grants and simular 
>>> social funds, and a wider fringe can maintain itself by working for 
>>> free and earning subsistence elsewhere (or simply being rich to 
>>> begin with), yet this says nothing of the great majority of books, 
>>> read by millions, produced today by the capitalist industry, which 
>>> offers no way to make these open books.
>>> Best,
>>> -- 
>>> Dmytri Kleiner
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> Simon Biggs
>> simon at littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK
>> skype: simonbiggsuk
>> s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
>> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/
>> http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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