[Discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 10, Issue 77

malcolm stanley a.malcolm.stanley at gmail.com
Sun Mar 17 15:41:45 UTC 2013

open is such an elastic word...
here is an "open technology fund" that is nominally all about technologies
facilitating free expression...

malcolm stanley

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Read my blog at http://soaringhorse.blogspot.com

On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM, Catarina Mota
<catarina at openmaterials.org>wrote:

> Great analysis Matt. More below.
> On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 9:23 AM, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Huh. His complaint seems to be specifically directed at the word "open"
>> hanging out there by itself. Maybe in that sense "open source" is still a
>> perfectly good phrase because it specifies what is expected to be "open"
>> and how "open" works in that situation.
> Good point!
>> Technically "open source" has a much longer history in the intelligence
>> world than the technology world. I wonder if they're quietly complaining to
>> each other about how the meaning is changing and getting confused.
>> Morozov's got a new book to flog that just happens to be on the same
>> subject.
>> Along those lines, he's got a chapter on openness (ironically served up
>> by Google's habit of being "open" enough to allow previewing of books) but
>> it doesn't seem to actually have anything to do with "open source." It
>> would be more accurate to say that he's got a problem with the idea of too
>> much transparency in government.
>> His use of Defense Distributed to link "open source" to "transparency" is
>> quite good. Defense Distributed is an ideologically motivated group of
>> activists who are using the mechanism of open sourcing easily manufactured
>> plans to achieve the political objective of rendering gun control laws
>> irrelevant. However, since he wrote a book on the subject I can't give him
>> credit for ignorance when he actively confuses the ideas of "open source"
>> and "transparency." Morozov says, "*One doesn’t need to look at projects
>> like Defcad to see that “openness” has become a dangerously vague term,
>> with lots of sex appeal but barely any analytical content*." He isn't
>> bringing more clarity to the discussion, he's intentionally increasing the
>> vagueness. When Defense Distributed says their work is "open source" they
>> mean very specifically in the "open source software" sense that he mentions
>> in the article. They do not mean in the "transparent government" sense he
>> writes about in his book. They aren't pushing for transparent government
>> records like some activist in Argentina (an example from the book) they are
>> trying to create a genuinely new piece of technology and then, as is their
>> prerogative, release the intellectual property under an open license.
>> That's a textbook case of "open source software" and it's disingenuous of
>> Morozov to pretend otherwise just to segue to the subject he wants to talk
>> about.
>> Maybe this is too harsh a criticism based on one article and one chapter,
>> but he seems to be abusing the very lack of specificity he's complaining
>> about. For what it's worth, he might not like technologists, but I don't
>> like anecdotalists. The problems of the world cannot be solved by
>> technology. But, they also can't be solved by someone stringing together a
>> dozen anecdotes and pretending that a point spontaneously emerged. I do
>> know about Defense Distributed, and he's misrepresenting them, so it makes
>> me wonder how many other anecdotes he's twisting to get onto the public
>> speaking circuit.
> Haha, ok, so I have a confession to make. In the past I have read other
> works by this author and couldn't agree with you more. He tends to write
> provocative pieces that go against the grain, which is totally fine, but
> seems to enjoy 'bending' things a bit to make a point while providing a
> series of anecdotes as back up that don't really hold up to scrutiny. Let's
> just say I'm not a fan. When I sent this two the list was with the goals of
> 1) hearing what you all thought, 2) throwing another perspective into the
> "open source hardware" brand discussion.
>> Anywho...just one more example of how open source needs a strong
>> community voice. It would be great if a recognized and respected
>> institution (like OSHWA) could give the NYT a new article to clarify the
>> mistakes in that one.
> So true. One thing I learned about the news industry though:
> although journalists are interested in reporting on open source, the nature
> of their business requires that they 'hang' it on some kind of event that
> then becomes the driving force for the article and the excuse to provide a
> deeper explanation. Without such an event we don't really have many
> opportunities to clarify what open source is in the NYT. Someone has to
> write a book on open source hardware :)
>> Cheers,
>> Matt
>> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >
>> > Message: 1
>> > Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 18:57:13 -0400
>> > From: Catarina Mota <catarina at openmaterials.org>
>> > To: The Open Source Hardware Association Discussion List
>> >         <discuss at lists.oshwa.org>
>> > Subject: [Discuss] Open and Closed
>> > Message-ID:
>> >         <CAH-asVZwkq=
>> 55rmDd7ut4HAQCtUDEqT0OrrdWWTbnv2+p+aXjg at mail.gmail.com>
>> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>> >
>> > Provocative, not very well grounded, but interesting nevertheless - and
>> > related to the discussion we've been having about what it means to label
>> > something as "open source."
>> >
>> >
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opinion/sunday/morozov-open-and-closed.html
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