14 February 2016

Reclaiming the Computing Commons

Resisting the commodification of information is a political struggle, not a technical one.

by Rob Hunter

Capital takes. The commodification and exploitation of nature; the enclosure of the intellectual and informational commons in medicine, agriculture, and other areas of technical knowledge; the expropriation of public space to secure profit — all define an economic system supposedly premised on freedom.

Could the world of computing offer an alternative vision? Could it even aid in arresting enclosure’s march?

Software freedom — the core commitment of the free software movement — does represent at least the rudiments of a better system. Resisting and reversing enclosure will not come about through “sustainable growth” or the “sharing economy,” which preserve the logics and structures of the status quo. “Openness,” or the conviction that norms of transparency and publicity will clarify (and thereby equalize) power relations, is also no solution at all.


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