Author Archives: mregan88

The Philosophy and Politics of F/OSS (Free and Open Source Software)

Code is Speech – Gabriella Coleman

In an effort to examine the ways in which Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS) developers are reconfiguring what source code and speech mean ethically, legally and culturally, Gabriella Coleman subsequently divulges that the broader political consequences of these redefinitions on for understanding the connections between code and speech.

At the beginning of her essay, Coleman utilizes a long haiku written by software developed Seth Schoen to begin to outline her arguments abut freedom of speech in the software developing world.  The source code is a transcoded bit of Free Software called DeCSS that “could be used to decrypt access controls on DVDs in violation of current copyright laws” (pg. 421).  By utilizing this example of Schoen, Coleman is attempting to highlight how such developments that challenge the meanings of both freedom and speech concurrently tinker with technology and the law using skills that transform and consolidate ethical precepts among developers” (pg. 449).  The legal action surrounding Schoen’s haiku of protest that source code is speech sets up Coleman to better explain the legal pedology and the subsequent battles over intellectual property, speech and software and in particular, the arrests of two programmers (Jon Johansen and Dmitry Sklyarov) and the manner in which their actions both provoked protest, questioned the value of source code and speech and how they made social processes a publicized, media frenzied event. Continue reading

Ted Nelson, Hypertext and the Web

Xanadu

The Ted Nelson GoogleTech Talk presentation was delivered on January 29, 2007.  Nelson began his career in the computer world in the early 1960s; an era where the term hypertext or the concept of the World Wide Web was only a figment of ones imagination.  Known as the man who “coined” the term hypertext, Nelson attempted to create a set of constructs for a new world of personal computing and a world of electronic documentation.  Hypertext is defined as “machine-readable text that is not sequential but is organized so that related items of information are connected” (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). However, Nelson thinks the world of such personal computing constructs has gone all wrong.  In his introduction, Nelson states “The clearer your vision, the harder it is for you to explain.” He believes he is part of an elite group of “old-timers” or the original men who believe that they have a problem– that nobody sees their original vision.

However, certain misunderstanding have occurred in the present world that have skewed these old-timer’s visions regarding their original ideas for just how personal computing would take shape (back in 1960) and the trajectory it would follow in order to be the most efficient and productive system possible.  In his presentation, Nelson addresses the issue of how we can best fix electronic literature, what the original vision for hypertext was and how he personally is envisioning a way to best redesign the “current copyright fights” through selective quotation ownership that “liberates and benefits everyone.”

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