Open-source politics: some  critiques and suggestions        Dr. Sky Croeser          Curtin University        Bluestockin...
Introduction●   A sketch of open-source politics.●   Some critiques which, unsurprisingly, will draw    heavily on anarchi...
Open-* politics●   Increased transparency,●   Increased accountability,●   Increased participation, often technologically-...
Assumption 1: we need to make the          system betterhow might this open, online collaboration improvegovernmental deci...
Assumption 2: what we need is     more information, and more              dialogueThe values engendered by our fledgling n...
Assumption 3: innovation and      entrepreneurship will solve               problemsIn the U.S. and many other jurisdictio...
Assumption 4: collaborative,decentralised organisational forms             are new“With an open source awareness, [people]...
Critique 1: the existing system is          fundamentally flawed    The liberal-democratic state:●   Is inherently repress...
Critique 2: focusing on information         and dialogue hides power                 inequalities●   Policy is not necessa...
Critique 3: the market is not your                   friend●   The market only provides services which can    make a profi...
Critique 4: anarchists and feminists have been doing this for a while     (and they werent the first)
What might open-* politics +     anarchism + feminism + … look                  like?●   No blueprints: processes must be ...
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An anarchafeminist critique of open-source politics

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The language of open software is increasingly being applied to politics, as people talk about and develop "open government" projects. However, much of this discussion does not unpack the politics of "openness", instead taking for granted that it involves a technologically-enhanced model of existing liberal democratic ideals. However, there are other ways to interpret what free and open source politics might look like. One is to more thoroughly apply the politics espoused by key figures within the free and open software movements, such as Stallman and Raymond. Another, more radical, route is to take the commitment to decentralisation of power that lies at the heart of free and open source software and apply it not only to an analysis of politics, but also to the existing free and open source software movement. This route demonstrates that there are useful lessons to be learned from looking at the interaction between free software principles, anarchism, and feminism.

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An anarchafeminist critique of open-source politics

  1. 1. Open-source politics: some critiques and suggestions Dr. Sky Croeser Curtin University Bluestocking Institute @scroeser http://skycroeser.net
  2. 2. Introduction● A sketch of open-source politics.● Some critiques which, unsurprisingly, will draw heavily on anarchism and feminism.● What might open-source politics look like?
  3. 3. Open-* politics● Increased transparency,● Increased accountability,● Increased participation, often technologically-mediated.● Shifts in organisational forms.there is a new kind of public sector organization emerging: open government. This is government that opens its doors to the world; co- innovates with everyone, especially citizens; shares resources that were previously closely guarded; harnesses the power of mass collaboration; drives transparency throughout its operations; and behaves not as an isolated department or jurisdiction, but as something new―a truly integrated and networked organization. Don Tapscott, Open Politics, 2010, p. xvi
  4. 4. Assumption 1: we need to make the system betterhow might this open, online collaboration improvegovernmental decision-making?…To bring about the new revolution in governance, thenext president ought to issue an executive orderrequiring that every government agency begin to pilotnew strategies for improved decision-making. Noveck, B. S. (2008). Wiki-Government. Democracy Journal, (7). pp. 3 and 5
  5. 5. Assumption 2: what we need is more information, and more dialogueThe values engendered by our fledgling networked culture may, in fact,help a world struggling with the impact of globalism, the lure offundamentalism and the clash of conflicting value systems. Thanks tothe actual and allegorical role of interactive technologies in our work andlives, we may now have the ability to understand many social andpolitical constructs in very new contexts. We may now be able to launchthe kinds of conversations that change the relationship of individuals,parties, creeds and nations to one another and to the world at large. Rushkoff, D. (2003). Open Source Democracy: How Online Communication is Changing Offline Politics. Demos, pp. 15–16
  6. 6. Assumption 3: innovation and entrepreneurship will solve problemsIn the U.S. and many other jurisdictions, government is becoming a stronger part of the social ecosystem that binds individuals, communities, and businesses―not by absorbing new responsibilities or building additional layers of bureaucracy, but through its willingness to open up formerly closed processes to broader input and innovation. In other words, government becomes a platform for the creation of public value and social innovation. It provides resources, sets rules, and mediates disputes, but it allows citizens, nonprofits, and the private sector to do most of the heavy lifting. Tapscott, 2010, pp. xvi–xvii
  7. 7. Assumption 4: collaborative,decentralised organisational forms are new“With an open source awareness, [people] are free to discover that the codes of the software have been arranged by people, sometimes with agendas that hadn’t formerly been apparent. One of the most widespread realisations accompanying the current renaissance is that a lot of what has been taken for granted as ‘hardware’ is, in fact, ‘software’ capable of being reprogrammed. Rushkoff, 2003, p. 58
  8. 8. Critique 1: the existing system is fundamentally flawed The liberal-democratic state:● Is inherently repressive.● Ultimately rests on control of force (sustained through ideological hegemony).● Disproportionately controls those who are marginalised: women, particular ethnic groups, othered sexualities...
  9. 9. Critique 2: focusing on information and dialogue hides power inequalities● Policy is not necessarily poor simply because decision-makers dont have enough information: policy is shaped by vested interests.● Understanding other perspectives doesnt necessarily mean those with power are willing to give it up.
  10. 10. Critique 3: the market is not your friend● The market only provides services which can make a profit.● A system which relies on constant growth in a world with finite resources creates problems.
  11. 11. Critique 4: anarchists and feminists have been doing this for a while (and they werent the first)
  12. 12. What might open-* politics + anarchism + feminism + … look like?● No blueprints: processes must be continually revised. The means determine the end, not vice versa.● A pragmatic utopianism.● A nuanced critique of hierarchy, including invisible hierarchies.● Intersectional analysis.

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