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

Dmytri Kleiner dk at telekommunisten.net
Thu Jan 12 23:49:24 EST 2012

Hey Tiziana, Simon and the others.

First of all thanks for having me here.

This conversation touches of a few of the central premises of my work, 
I'll avoid discussing topics like the production of subjectivity, etc, 
as I'm out of my depth on the more humanistic/philosophical dimensions 
of the discussion, and focus on my main area of interest, the political 
economy of networks and information, especially from the point of view 
of an artist and software developer.

In trying to keep things brief, I'll just make some initial comments on 
two points, the first is my understanding of what "open" could mean, and 
t he second, the economic differences between the production of cultural 
works and te production of software, such as an OS.

I'll start with the later. The well known success of Free Software has 
created a kind of delusion among cultural producers, which has lead to 
the phenomena often referred to as "Free Culture." Yet, software and 
culture, for the most part, are at fundamentally different end of the 
productive process and thus share little in common.

Software is "capital," a "producer's good" or "an input to production," 
Capitalists require software, among other forms of capital, in order to 
produce "consumer's goods," it is by controlling the circulation of 
consumer's goods that Capitalists make a profit. The Capitalist system 
can not exist if it can not capture profits on consumer's goods. 
However, except for he small number of companies who product's are 
consumer goods, capital goods are a cost to most producers, thus profit 
on capital goods is not a required component of a capitalist economy.

Under Capitalism, only Capital can be free.

Companies for whom software is a necessary capital input are happy to 
support free software, because doing so is most often more beneficial to 
them then either paying for proprietary software, or developing their 
own systems from scratch. They make their profit from the goods and 
services which they produce, not from the software they employ in their 

Cultural Works, especially popular ones, such as book, movies, music, 
etc, are not usually producer's goods. In a capitalism economy these are 
generally Consumer's goods, and thus the publishers of such works must 
capture profit on their circulation.

Thus capital will not finance free culture in the same way it has 
financed free software.

Historically, Free Culture has always been a radical fringe, usually 
anti-capitalism and well as anti-copyright, and the idea that Free 
Culture could follow in the footsteps of Free Software and create a 
massive commons of cultural works is a delusion. Unless, that is, such a 
movement succeeds in transcending Capitalism first.

So what is "Open Publishing?" This question intests me in two ways, but 
seeing as my first statement has already made me into a liar for saying 
I was going to keep this short, I'll just pose them and let them serve 
as a point of departure for respsones.

In the first way, I understand open publishing as the unbundling and 
disintermediation of the publishing process, the elimination of a system 
of gatekeepers guarding the cultural cannon. The internet has created 
platforms that allow circumvention of the gatekeepers, and has thus 
widened the breath of the discussion. Yet, the early Internet was an 
anomaly, as Capital is no more interested in financing an free network 
(at least for consumers) than it in financing free culture, so the 
distributed free for all Internet is now being centralized under the 
control of private social platforms, who may allow you to publish there, 
but ultimately are reintermediating the net, your privilege of using the 
platform is maintained so long as the platforms owners feel your usage 
is of benefit to them. The as disintermediation is being reveresed, can 
this sort of publishing be called "open" anymore, and of finance capital 
is not available for truly open platforms what source of funds are there 
for supporting alternatives?

Second, culture work is a form of production, and as such, it must, at 
minimum, provide the subsistence of their culture workers. As capital 
will not finance open works, how are the creators of such works to 
sustain themselves?

We'll leave it at that for now.


On 11.01.2012 15:55, Simon Biggs wrote:
> One of the first things that strikes me as particular about open
> source authoring and publishing systems, in relation to the attention
> economy, is that OS authorship is effectively a model of co-creation,
> engaging users as producers. This could seem to feed directly into 
> the
> mechanisms that underpin the attention economy model, where active
> users (prosumers, co-creators, whatever you want to call them) are a
> requirement of the system. At the very least this implies that OS
> authorship is not unproblematic for those who might fear their
> contribution to something is being made for somebody else's profit.
> The question then is how, in practical terms, you deal with that
> situation? I know there are licensing and other legal mechanisms for
> dealing with this - but the law has its limits.
> best
> Simon
> On 11 Jan 2012, at 09:44, tterranova wrote:
>> Dear all
>> first of all I think best wishes for 2012 are in order for everybody 
>> on the list.
>> Secondly I would like to see whether I can start the discussion by 
>> referring to some issues which I am currently thinking about and which 
>> might be relevant to a debate on open models of publishing and 
>> writings and the formation of communities around such efforts.
>> I have been struck that is by a theme that is emerging in analyses 
>> of the Internet, and social networks in particular, which are focused 
>> on the question of subjectivity, such as writings by Jodi Dean, Sherry 
>> Turkle, Bernard Stiegler, Franco Berardi, Steven Shaviro etc. All 
>> these authors, in different way, seem to underline the fact that 
>> networked digital media are not simply technologies of communication, 
>> but technologies involved in the production of subjectivity. Jodi Dean 
>> in particular seem to be starting from her experience of writing a 
>> blog to articulate a damning critique of the whole mechanism of 
>> writing/reading/commenting text on the Internet, which she sees as 
>> relying on the mobilization of compulsive drives (little bits of 
>> pleasure inherent in the accumulation of small bits of 'new' 
>> information) which ultimately leads to recuperation under the logic of 
>> communicative capitalism. Sherry Turkle's latest book is also a quite 
>> damning ethnography of what social and personal media are doing to a 
>> new generation which is both tethered to their machines and scared of 
>> intimacy. Franco Berardi has been warning us for over a decade about 
>> the process of 'cognitive proletarianization' inherent in the speed of 
>> new media.
>> I'm not saying that I agree with all these different perspectives, 
>> but my questions to the list would be: in which ways do open practices 
>> of publishing, writing and reading interact with the general attention 
>> economy of networked media, where attention is defined as a 'scarce 
>> commodity'? How can they be used to counteract some of the 
>> compulsive/destructive dynamics of Internet readership? What do your 
>> experiences tell us of the difference between social interaction on 
>> corporate media platforms and social interaction on alternative, open 
>> platforms? What is it that in your opinion ultimately defines the 
>> quality and affective texture of communication on succesful open 
>> platforms?
>> looking forward to the rest of the discussion
>> tiziana terranova
>> Il 09/01/12 12.07, Simon Biggs ha scritto:
>>> Welcome to all empyre subscribers and, especially, this months 
>>> moderators and discussants, Penny Travlou, Smita Kheria, Tiziana 
>>> Terranova, Dmytri Kleiner, Adam Hyde, Salvatore Iaconesi, Joss Hands 
>>> and Marc Garrett. We have the collective responsibility of welcoming 
>>> in 2012, during the year's first monthly theme. For much of the world 
>>> 2011 was, at best, a challenging year, and 2012 looks like more of 
>>> the same. This appears to be a period of socio-economic change as the 
>>> shifting tectonic plates of geo-political power grind against one 
>>> another. I've never been keen on futurology or fortune-telling but am 
>>> confident 2012 will be another year of turbulent events that will 
>>> have us end up in a different place to where we started.
>>> In this globalised and highly mediated context, during the month of 
>>> January, we wish to focus empyre discussion on how writing and 
>>> publishing are currently evolving in the context of global networks. 
>>> We wish to engage a debate about open models of writing and 
>>> publishing. We hope to gain some insight into how changes in notions 
>>> and practices of authorship, media, form, dissemination, intellectual 
>>> property and economics affect writing and publishing as well as the 
>>> formation of the reader/writerships, communities and social 
>>> engagement that must flow from that activity. Specifically, we wish 
>>> to look at examples of open publishing, whether they be FLOSS 
>>> manuals, copyLeft or CopyFarLeft or other publication models, in 
>>> order to look at new methods for knowledge making and distribution. 
>>> We also wish to consider how communities of shared-value emerge 
>>> through such initiatives and how their members are able to identify 
>>> themselves to one another and others.
>>> As usual, the month (the next three weeks) will be structured into 
>>> weekly bite sized chunks, each led by a moderator and involving two 
>>> discussants. Participants can choose to post to the list at any time 
>>> but the discussants for each week will have the opportunity to focus 
>>> the debate for that period. We hope that as many empyre subscribers 
>>> as possible will feel engaged and contribute to the discussion.
>>> Our guests are, in the order of the weeks they will participate:
>>> Tiziana Terranova lectures and researches cultural studies and new 
>>> media at the Università degli Studi di Napoli 'L'Orientale'. She is 
>>> the author of Network Culture (Pluto Press, 2004) and has recently 
>>> co-edited, with Couze Venn, a special issue of Theory, Culture and 
>>> Society on Michel Foucault's recently published courses. She is 
>>> currently working on a book about neoliberalism and digital social 
>>> media.
>>> Dmytri Kleiner describes himself as a Venture Communist. He creates 
>>> miscommunication technologies, including deadSwap, Thimbl and R15N 
>>> and is the author of the Telekommunist Manifesto. He lives in Berlin 
>>> and his url is http://dmytri.info
>>> Simon Biggs is an artist, writer and curator. His work focuses on 
>>> interactive systems, new media and digital poetics 
>>> (http://www.littlepig.org.uk). He is involved in a number of research 
>>> projects, including the EU funded project Developing a Network-Based 
>>> Creative Community: Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity 
>>> and Innovation in Practice (http://www.elmcip.net). He is Professor 
>>> of Interdisciplinary Arts, directing the MSc by Research in 
>>> Interdisciplinary Creative Practices, at the University of Edinburgh.
>>> Adam Hyde lives in Berlin. In 2007 Adam started FLOSS Manuals, a 
>>> community for  producing free manuals for free software. Through this 
>>> work he also started Booki (a book production platform) and has been 
>>> pioneering Book Sprints - a methodology for collaboratively producing 
>>> books in 5 days or less. Previously, as an artist, he was 1/2 of r a 
>>> d i o q u a l i a, Simpel and other artistic projects engaging open 
>>> source and free media.
>>> Salvatore Iaconesi teaches cross media design at “La Sapienza” 
>>> University of Rome, at Rome University of Fine Arts and at ISIA 
>>> Design in Florence. He is the founder of Art is Open Source and of 
>>> FakePress Publishing, focusing on the human beings' mutations through 
>>> ubiquitous technologies and networks.
>>> Penny Travlou is a social geographer and ethnographer lecturing in 
>>> the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at 
>>> the University of Edinburgh. Her research currently focuses on 
>>> studying emergent network-based creative communities. She is 
>>> Co-Investigator on the ELMCIP project.
>>> Marc Garrett is an activist, artist, writer and co-director/founder 
>>> (with artist Ruth Catlow) of internet arts collective 
>>> http://www.furtherfield.org (since 96) and the Furtherfield Gallery&  
>>> social space in London. Through these platforms various contemporary 
>>> media arts exhibitions and projects are presented nationally and 
>>> internationally. Marc also hosts a weekly media arts radio programme 
>>> on Resonance FM, co-edited the publication "Artists Re: thinking 
>>> games" and is editing a new publication "Conversations As We Leave 
>>> The 21st Century". He is currently undertaking a PhD at Birkbeck 
>>> University, London.
>>> Joss Hands is a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University where he is 
>>> Director of the Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture 
>>> (ARCDigital). His research interests are at the intersection of 
>>> technology, new media, politics and critical theory. His focus has 
>>> been in two main areas. The role of technology in providing an arena 
>>> for the expression of dissent and the organisation of resistance 
>>> movements and the role of technology in more formal democratic 
>>> procedures, specifically the role of the Internet in contributing 
>>> towards the development of deliberative democracy. He has recently 
>>> completed a book on digital activism, @ is for Activism: Dissent, 
>>> Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture, published by Pluto 
>>> Press.
>>> Smita Kheria is a lawyer and lecturer in law at the University of 
>>> Edinburgh. Her focus of interest is intellectual property law and 
>>> issues around authorship, especially concerning artists' practices 
>>> with new media. Smita is an associate of SCRIPT: the AHRC Research 
>>> Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology and is 
>>> Supervising editor (Intellectual Property) for SCRIPT-ed, the journal 
>>> of Law, Technology&  Society.
>>> best
>>> Simon
>>> 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
>> _______________________________________________
>> 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

Dmyri Kleiner
Venture Communist

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