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
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
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.
On 11 Jan 2012, at 09:44, tterranova wrote:
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
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
looking forward to the rest of the discussion
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
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
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
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.
si...@littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK
s.bi...@ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
si...@littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK
s.bi...@ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh