requiem for certainty

‘Open Source Study’ now available

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I participated in a graduate seminar in anthropology offered by Paul Rabinow this past quarter. Part of my work there involved a collaborative research project on ‘open source’ and ‘open content’ initiatives. Though in many ways this research is still very much in progress, the seminar is now over, and we turned something in, and so we have also posted it to SSRN. You can find it here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1069067.

Here is the abstract:

Terms such as “open source” and various modifications including “open content” and more generally “openness” have been mobilized with increasing frequency in recent years to describe many different collaborative and not-for-profit projects, products, services, and business models. Typically associated with the computer and internet industry, openness has in recent years assumed something of the status of a nascent movement. Whatever this movement is, whatever qualities it embodies and possibilities it enables, it is still in the process of its emergence. This presents particular difficulties for understanding openness insofar as emergent practices are by definition not yet stabilized. This paper is an attempt to discern the nascent forms of stability already extant in the emerging world of openness. We begin with a brief history culminating in the near future. We then summarize the limited conclusions of an initial inquiry into these emerging openness practices which we have conducted in the context of an orientation for inquiry recently put forward by Paul Rabinow and Gaymon Bennett. The bulk of the paper is devoted to elaborating openness equipment in terms of the analytic and synthetic categories made available by Rabinow and Bennett’s Diagnostic of Equipmental Platforms. On the basis of this inquiry we return in the final section to reflection on the Diagnostic itself in an attempt to critically delineate its positive and negative usages for our inquiry.

Any comments or criticisms on this piece are of course very much welcome as are thoughts on what we might do next. For me, this is just one part of a much broader inquiry into the emerging problematization of the politics of internetworking: the idea is that the open model of distributed cooperation or distributed coordination represents just one of the many vectors forming the problematization of internetworking.

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Written by Colin Koopman

December 10, 2007 at 8:35 pm

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