Social Technologies and the Digital Commons

Social Technologies and the Digital Commons

Francesca da Rimini (University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-999-1.ch005
OnDemand PDF Download:


This chapter investigates the premise that software is culture. It explores this proposition through the lens of peer production, of knowledge-based goods circulating in the electronic space of a digital commons, and the material space of free media labs. Computing history reveals that technological development has typically been infl uenced by external sociopolitical forces. However, with the advent of the Internet and the free software movement, such development is no longer solely shaped by an elite class. Dyne:bolic, Streamtime and the Container Project are three autonomously-managed projects that combine social technologies and cooperative labour with cultural activism. Innovative digital staging platforms enable creative expression by marginalised communities, and assist movements for social change. The author fl ags new social relations and shared social imaginaries generated in the nexus between open code and democratic media. In so doing the author aims to contribute tangible, inspiring examples to the emerging interdisciplinary fi eld of software studies.“Humanity’s capacity to generate new ideas and knowledge is its greatest asset. It is the source of art, science, innovation and economic development. Without it, individuals and societies stagnate. This creative imagination requires access to the ideas, learning and culture of others, past and present” (Boyle, Brindley, Cornish, Correa, Cuplinskas, Deere, et al., 2005)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Free/Libre Open Source software (FLOSS): A convenient acronym for “free libre open source software.” It neatly bundles the revolutionary associations of “free (libré) as in freedom” together with the more technical and neutral connotations of “open source.” The term implicitly acknowledges that differences between the two camps exist, but they are operational in the same field.

Free Software Movement: The philosophical and political context underpinning the creation of free software, and the subjective sense of community shared by developers and users.

Social Technologies: An umbrella term which could include free software, social software, recycled electronic equipment in free media labs, and so on. Technology put to use by the people, for the people.

Digital Commons: A conceptual framework for considering the common wealth of intellectual goods, knowledge products, creative works, free software tools, shared ideas, information, and so on which are freely and democratically shared, and possibly further developed, via the Internet

Open Source Software (OSS): A strategic business-friendly “rebranding” of free software emphasising the practical benefits of the model of participatory software development and open code, and downplaying the original ideological and philosophical positions.

Immaterial Labour: A theoretical framing of knowledge work, labour processes, and social relations in information society, initially articulated by Italian theorists including Maurizio Lazzarato and Christian Marazzi.

Peer Production: A horizontal, distributed method of cooperative, creative labour, generally facilitated by high levels of communication, information, and file sharing via the Internet.

Social Software: The term came out of the nexus between cultural and social activism, art and tactical media, and was originally used to designate software that came into being through an extended dialogue between programmers and communities of users, ensuring that the software was responsive to user needs. The phrase no longer carries the same import, as it is now applied to software-assisted social networking platforms such as MySpace.

Free Software (FS): Software in which the underlying code is available to be inspected, modified, shared, with the proviso that it remains open, even following modification. To ensure it remains open, free software is distributed under the General Public License (GPL) or similar legal agreements.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Stefan Koch
Kirk St.Amant, Brian Still
Kirk St.Amant, Brian Still
Chapter 1
Niklas Vainio
This chapter introduces and explains some of the most relevant features of the free software philosophy formulated by Richard M. Stallman in the... Sample PDF
Free Software Philosophy and Open Source
Chapter 2
Brian D. Ballentine
This chapter introduces Greasemonkey, a new extension for the Firefox browser, which enables users to alter the behavior and appearance of Web pages... Sample PDF
Greasemonkey and a Challenge to Notions of Authorship
Chapter 3
Dave Yeats
This chapter analyzes the differences between the philosophy of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as described by Richard Stallman and the open... Sample PDF
Morality and Pragmatism in Free Software and Open Source
Chapter 4
Yu-Wei Lin
This chapter aims to contribute to our understanding of the free/libre open source software (FLOSS) innovation and how it is shaped by and also... Sample PDF
Hacker Culture and the FLOSS Innovation
Chapter 5
Francesca da Rimini
This chapter investigates the premise that software is culture. It explores this proposition through the lens of peer production, of knowledge-based... Sample PDF
Social Technologies and the Digital Commons
Chapter 6
Andrea Bosin, Nicoletta Dessi, Maria Grazia Fugini
A framework is proposed that would create, use, communicate, and distribute information whose organizational dynamics allow it to perform a... Sample PDF
ALBA Architecture as Proposal for OSS Collaborative Science
Chapter 7
Victor van Reijswoud
Development organizations and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been emphasizing the high potential of free and open source... Sample PDF
Evaluating the Potential of Free and Open Source Software in the Developing World
Chapter 8
Jennifer Papin-Ramcharan
This chapter presents issues that relate to developing countries’ use of open source software (OSS) and the experience of these countries with OSS.... Sample PDF
Open Source Software: A Developing Country View
Chapter 9
Alfreda Dudley-Sponaugle
Computing practices in developing countries can be complex. At the same time, open source software OSS) impacts developing countries in various... Sample PDF
The Social and Economical Impact of OSS in Developing Countries
Chapter 10
Juha Järvensivu
Dependencies between modern software projects are common. Jointly, such dependencies form a project network, where changes in one project cause... Sample PDF
Dependencies, Networks, and Priorities in an Open Source Project
Chapter 11
M. Cameron Jones
This chapter explores the concept of patchwork prototyping: the combining of open source software applications to rapidly create a rudimentary but... Sample PDF
Patchwork Prototyping with Open Source Software
Chapter 12
Sofiane Sahraoui
Open source software (OSS) development has been a trend parallel to that of agile software development, which is the highly iterative development... Sample PDF
An Agile Perspective on Open Source Software Engineering
Chapter 13
Daniel Brink
Although open source software (OSS) has been widely implemented in the server environment, it is still not as widely adopted on the desktop. This... Sample PDF
A Model for the Successful Migration to Desktop OSS
Chapter 14
Jochen Gläser
This chapter contributes to the sociological understanding of open source software (OSS) production by identifying the social mechanism that creates... Sample PDF
The Social Order of Open Source Software Production
Chapter 15
Zippy Erlich
The philosophy underlying open source software (OSS) is enabling programmers to freely access the software source by distributing the software... Sample PDF
Open Source Software: Strengths and Weaknesses
Chapter 16
Karin van den Berg
If a person or corporation decides to use open source software for a certain purpose, nowadays the choice in software is large and still growing. In... Sample PDF
Open Source Software Evaluation
Chapter 17
Open Source Web Portals  (pages 211-226)
Vanessa P. Braganholo, Bernardo Miranda
Open source software is required to be widely available to the user community. To help developers fulfill this requirement, Web portals provide a... Sample PDF
Open Source Web Portals
Chapter 18
Alessandro Nuvolari, Francesco Rullani
The aim of this chapter is to explore the differences and commonalities between open source software and other cases of open technology. The concept... Sample PDF
Curious Exceptions? Open Source Software and "Open" Technology
Chapter 19
Marcus Vinicius Brandão Soares
This chapter introduces the hybrid GLW information infrastructure as an alternative to proprietary-only information infrastructures with lower... Sample PDF
Reducing Transaction Costs with GLW Infrastructure
Chapter 20
Beatrice A. Boateng, Kwasi Boateng
This chapter examines the main issues that have to be considered when selecting an open source content management system. It involves a discussion... Sample PDF
Issues to Consider when Choosing Open Source Content Management Systems (CMSs)
Chapter 21
Ralf Carbon, Marcus Ciolkowski
The increasing number of high quality open source software (OSS) components lets industrial organizations seriously consider integrating them into... Sample PDF
Evaluating Open Source Software through Prototyping
Chapter 22
Megan Conklin
This chapter explores the motivations and methods for mining (collecting, aggregating, distributing, and analyzing) data about free/libre open... Sample PDF
Motives and Methods for Quantitative FLOSS Research
Chapter 23
Theodoros Evdoridis
This chapter attempts to bring to light the field of one of the less popular branches of the open source software family, which is the open source... Sample PDF
A Generalized Comparison of Open Source and Commercial Database Management Systems
Chapter 24
Bruno Rossi, Barbara Russo, Giancarlo Succi
The chapter discusses the adoption and assimilation process of open source software as a new form of information technology. Specifically, the case... Sample PDF
Evaluation of a Migration to Open Source Software
Chapter 25
Bruno de Vuyst
This chapter discusses legal and economic rationale in regards to open source software protection. Software programs are, under TRIPS1, protected by... Sample PDF
Legal and Economic Justifi cation for Software Protection
Chapter 26
Roy Agostinelli
This chapter provides an anecdotal case study of the adoption of open source software by governmentfunded nonprofit organizations in the legal... Sample PDF
OSS Adoption in the Legal Services Community
Chapter 27
Robert Cunningham
This chapter examines the development of open source computer software with specific reference to the political economy of copyleft and the... Sample PDF
The Road of Computer Code Featuring the Political Economy of Copyleft and Legal Analysis of the General Public License
Chapter 28
Mathias Klang
The more we rely upon software to mediate the many facets of our lives the more important the ability to control and adapt that software to our... Sample PDF
The Evolution of Free Software
Chapter 29
Daniel Poulin, Andrew Mowbray
Law consists of legislation, judicial decisions, and interpretative material. Public legal information means legal information produced by public... Sample PDF
Free Access to Law and Open Source Software
Chapter 30
Kwei-Jay Lin, Yi-Hsuan Lin, Tung-Mei Ko
In this chapter, the authors present a novel perspective by using the Creative Commons (CC) licensing model to compare 10 commonly used OSS... Sample PDF
Examining Open Source Software Licenses through the Creative Commons Licensing Model
Chapter 31
Darren Skidmore
This chapter introduces the reader to terms relevant to understanding free/libre and open source licenses, some of the relevant legal, and relevant... Sample PDF
FLOSS Legal and Engineering Terms and a License Taxonomy
Chapter 32
Stefano Comino, Fabio M. Manenti
Governments’ interest in free/open source software is steadily increasing. Several policies aimed at supporting free/open source software have been... Sample PDF
On the Role of Public Policies Supporting Free/Open Source Software
Chapter 33
Laurence Favier, Joël Mekhantar
This chapter deals with the integration of OSS in local and territorial e-administration and its relations with the state level in France. France... Sample PDF
Use of OSS by Local E-Administration: The French Situation
Chapter 34
Gabor Laszlo
This chapter introduces L-PEST model as the proposed tool for better understanding the fi elds are influenced by motivations and adaptation policy... Sample PDF
Issues and Aspects of Open Source Software Usage and Adoption in the Public Sector
Chapter 35
Casey O’Donnell
This chapter will focus on the economic and temporal/labor demands of creating free/libre and open source software (FLOSS). It begins by analyzing... Sample PDF
The Labor Politics of Scratching an Itch
Chapter 36
Jonathan Peizer
This chapter contextualizes open source development and deployment in the nonprofit sector and discusses issues of ideology that often accompany it.... Sample PDF
Open Source Technology and Ideology in the Nonprofi t Context
Chapter 37
R. Todd Stephens
This chapter examines the critical task of governing the open source environment with an open source repository. As organizations move to higher... Sample PDF
Governance and the Open Source Repository
Chapter 38
Wouter Stam, Ruben van Wendel de Joode
Increasingly, firms participate in OSS communities. However, surprisingly little empirical research has been performed to understand firms’... Sample PDF
Analyzing Firm Participation in Open Source Communities
Chapter 39
Community Customers  (pages 510-521)
Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers
This chapter discusses the role of the project/product community in the open source product life cycle. It outlines how a community-driven approach... Sample PDF
Community Customers
Chapter 40
Christoph Schlueter Langdon, Alexander Hars
This chapter is focused on the business economics of open source. From a strategic perspective, open source falls into a category of business models... Sample PDF
Open Source Software Business Models and Customer Involvement Economics
Chapter 41
Mikko Puhakka, Hannu Jungman, Marko Seppänen
This chapter studies how venture capitalists invest in open source-based companies. Evaluation and valuation of knowledge-intensive companies is a... Sample PDF
Investing in Open Source Software Companies: Deal Making from a Venture Capitalist's Perspective
Chapter 42
Risto Rajala, Jussi Nissilä
Profit-oriented business behavior has increased within the open source software movement. However, it has proved to be a challenging and complex... Sample PDF
Revenue Models in the Open Source Software Business
Chapter 43
Thomas Tribunella, James Baroody
This chapter introduces open source software (OSS) for accounting and enterprise information systems. It covers the background, functions, maturity... Sample PDF
Open Source for Accounting and Enterprise Systems
Chapter 44
Sigrid Kelsey
This chapter discusses various ways that open source software (OSS) methods of software development interact with the corporate world. The success... Sample PDF
Open Source Software and the Corporate World
Chapter 45
Marko Seppänen
This chapter explores how the use of a business model enables value creation in the open source software (OSS) environment. We argue that this value... Sample PDF
Business Models in Open Source Software Value Creation
Chapter 46
Jacobus Andries du Preez
Novell, Inc. was a leading network operating system provider in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, in the mid-1990s, Novell lost market share in... Sample PDF
Novell's Open Source Evolution
Chapter 47
Leila Lage Humes
This chapter studies the use of communities of practice in the process of disseminating open source software (OSS) in the University of São Paulo.... Sample PDF
Communities of Practice for Open Source Software
Chapter 48
Kathryn Moyle
Schools are places where the choices made about computing technologies not only reflect their technical requirements but also reflect the... Sample PDF
Selecting Open Source Software for Use in Schools
Chapter 49
Phillip Olla
E-learning applications are becoming commonplace in most higher education institutions, and some institutions have implemented open source... Sample PDF
Open Source E-Learning Systems: Evaluation of Features and Functionality
Chapter 50
David J. Solomon
This chapter discusses the rapid transition from paper to electronic distribution of scholarly journals and how this has led to open-access journals... Sample PDF
The Role of Open Source Software in Open Access Publishing
Chapter 51
James Weller
This chapter presents a case study of a migration to open source software (OSS) in a South African school. The innovative aspect of the case study... Sample PDF
An Innovative Desktop OSS Implementation in a School
Chapter 52
Dick B. Simmons, William Lively, Chris Nelson
Within the United States, the greatest job growth is in software engineering and information management. Open source software (OSS) is a major... Sample PDF
Rapid Insertion of Leading Edge Industrial Strength Software into University Classrooms
Chapter 53
Robert Fitzgerald
In their simplest form, Wikis are Web pages that allow people to collaboratively create and edit documents online. Key principles of simplicity... Sample PDF
Wikis as an Exemplary Model of Open Source Learning
Chapter 54
Pankaj Kamthan
As the development and use of open source software (OSS) becomes prominent, the issue of its outreach in an educational context arises. The... Sample PDF
A Perspective on Software Engineering Education with Open Source Software
About the Contributors