Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page
Another interesting article on the perennially fascinating complexity that is privacy. Sometimes, I think that the idea of privacy, especially the American one, resembles the 19th century notion of nature, a notion that today can be thought of as cartoon simplicity that confuses more than it helps, and that perpetuates a belief in bounded objects when in fact there is little that is not always in flux. Even death, life, is better understood as an ecological process, not a state leading to being or nothingness. To articulate privacy, we need to start with the recognition that it’s a process, and not really a contract, though that can happen. But the step into this process is for most people happening with blinding speed, and only retrospectively, and with some horror, do so many realize that the private words and acts and pictures they posted to share with friend if anyone are now part of a very public–globally and perpetually public–narrative that haunts the once-private individual. Today, the confession spoken in privacy and otherworldly listening under the assurance of absolute boundedness more accurately resembles the shameful secret whispered far and wide by the reeds growing from the muddy hole Midas shouted into, falsely believing that his isolation actually meant invisibility and anonymity.
*Read* the article. It’s excellent, and very informative.
I’ve been involved but mostly as a follower IP discussions over the last couple of years. They’ve grown quite interesting. Ever since ACTA ground our faces into the notion that some copyright legislation “must” be worked out and agreed upon in *secret*, the politics of IP–global as well as national–have become inescapable, at least to me, and I think many others.
The issues are hardly as abstract as “intellectual property” would suggest. They have to do with the way many of us not only make our living but simply do our living, and they put under legal scrutiny local and regional community formations, as well as international ones.
It’s perhaps a measure of my ignorance that it seems to me that the great Paul Feyerabend is not cited more in the fields of open whatever. His central argument, on behalf of a radical pragmatism in science as well as everything else having to do with obtaining knowledge and information (usable or not; and post-Kant, what is not usable, in the end?), is relevant as few other things are to open access, open knowledge, open source. In practical terms, it means that one puts outcomes over prescribed methods. It does not mean that one must abandon a consciousness of method; indeed, it argues the contrary, for a relentless inquiry into what one is doing and if there is another way of doing it. I think that’s what Feyerabend meant by scientific pluralism.
How do we apply this insight to open source production? Productive open-source communities resist are resistant to fixed methodologies. They require agility and flexibility on the part of the manager, community members, sponsoring entities. I don’t mean by this that obvious protocols of behaviour, such as not being rude on lists, ought not to obtain. But I do mean that the methods of production, the tests of product quality, of merit, are necessarily flexible enough to accommodate the divergences of style and character found in larger projects. Yet, clearly, for there to be communication of any sort, there must be agreed-upon standards–conventions of identity–that allow for difference of implementation and use without mutual incomprehensibility.
This coupling of the anarchic with the conventional makes open source production management an art form: something virtually impossible to codify (at least not without losing its dynamic essence) yet utterly recognizable as producing a valuable object others not engaged in the community can use.