Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Open-source as an iconic tactic

How Free Became Open and Everything Else Under the Sun
by Biella Coleman and Mako Hill

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) functions as an iconic tactic for a range of projects, which is not the simple result of the lexical ambiguity of the words free or open. The ability of FOSS to act as an "engine of translation" is one of the most compelling political aspects of FOSS and an important starting point in the assessment of the variable ways in which FOSS has been used as a set of technologies and an icon for openness one we feel is often overlooked or obscured in popular and scholarly accounts on the broader implications of FOSS.

I recently completed a research contract (for the International Development Research Centre of Canada) on the use of open-source software, and also found that OSS often provides a means for people to engage broader cultural values and practices that have little or nothing to do with the technology itself. Interesting how that works, huh?


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