Really nice read, that gave me some food for thought and includes a nice summary of the Open Source vs Free Software history.
Fuzzy, contentious, and complex ideas have been stripped of their subversive connotations and replaced by cleaner, shinier, and emptier alternatives; long-running debates about politics, rights, and freedoms have been recast in the seemingly natural language of economics, innovation, and efficiency.
Stallman’s may not have been the best software on offer, but some sacrifice of technological efficiency was a price worth paying for emancipation.
Any move to subject the fruits of developers’ labor to public regulation, even if its goal was to promote a greater uptake of open source software, must be opposed, since it would taint the reputation of open source as technologically and economically superior to proprietary software.
As O’Reilly put it in 2010, “the art of promoting openness is not to make it a moral crusade, but rather to highlight the competitive advantages of openness.”
It seems that anyone who wanted to claim that a revolution was under way in their own field did so simply by invoking the idea of Web 2.0 in their work: Development 2.0, Nursing 2.0, Humanities 2.0, Protest 2.0, Music 2.0, Research 2.0, Library 2.0, Disasters 2.0, Road Safety 2.0, Identity 2.0, Stress Management 2.0, Archeology 2.0, Crime 2.0, Pornography 2.0, Love 2.0, Wittgenstein 2.0. What unites most of these papers is a shared background assumption that, thanks to the coming of Web 2.0, we are living through unique historical circumstances. Except that there was no coming of Web 2.0—it was just a way to sell a technology conference to a public badly burned by the dotcom crash.
Some words—like “law”—are particularly susceptible to crazy talk, as they mean so many different things: from scientific “laws” to moral “laws” to “laws” of the market to administrative “laws,” the same word captures many different social relations. “Open,” “networks,” and “information” function much like “law” in our own Internet discourse today.
O’Reilly admitted that he was the one to edit the Wikipedia page for the book. O’Reilly is perfectly positioned to control our technology discourse: as a publisher, he can churn out whatever books he needs to promote his favorite memes—and, once those have been codified in book form, they can be easily admitted into Wikipedia, where they quickly morph into facts. What’s not to like about “collective intelligence”?
As long as this “open data” was liquid and reusable, others could build on it. Neither the political process that led to the release of the data nor its content was considered relevant to openness. Thus, data about how many gum-chewers Singapore sends to prison would be “open” as long as the Singaporean government shared it in suitable formats. Why it shared such data was irrelevant.
O’Reilly deploys the highly ambiguous concept of openness to confuse “transparency as accountability” (what Obama called for in his directive) with “transparency as innovation” (what O’Reilly himself wants).
If Participation 1.0 was about the use of public reason to push for political reforms, with groups of concerned citizens coalescing around some vague notion of the shared public good, Participation 2.0 is about atomized individuals finding or contributing the right data to solve some problem without creating any disturbances in the system itself.
In 2011, Cameron’s government released a white paper on “Open Public Services” that uses the word “open” in a peculiar way: it argues that, save for national security and the judiciary, all public services must become open to competition from the market.
Raymond writes in The Cathedral and the Bazaa [...] that “one may call [Linux hackers] motivation ‘altruistic’, but this ignores the fact that altruism is itself a form of ego satisfaction for the altruist.” If it sounds like Ayn Rand, that’s because Raymond explicitly draws on her crazy talk.