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Abstract In this article, I explore the notion of making time for a radical imagination; in particular, I consider the gift culture of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in terms of poststructuralist understandings of gifting, which posit the gift as a form of deferral, a structure of uncertainty, and the temporal basis of subjectivity. Critics who reduce FOSS to either a utopian discourse or the neoliberal property regime negate the temporal dislocation from capitalist regimentation and the imaginative opportunities made possible by FOSS. The technosocial discontinuity enabled by FOSS software development is a form of kairos, or opportune moment, for radical imagining. This article traces the concept of the gift from Mauss and Batailles to poststructuralist thinkers such as Derrida and Bourdieu. It crosses their theories with analyses of the FOSS phenomenon, to show the limitations of popular technolibertarian readings.
"Imagination at work." – slogan for the General Electric Company2
Introduction: Taking Time Away From Capitalist Technological Drift To imagine takes time, especially time away from work. A radical imagination arguably requires even more time than quotidian dreaming, because the habitus, or acquired sensibilities, in which such reflection occurs orients the imagination in the direction of ideological misrecognition.3 In other words, radical imagining must contend with the ebb of supporting mechanisms and the flow of the dominant culture. Our imaginative orientation is further shaped by our technological entrenchment, or what Langdon Winner calls "technological drift."4 Technology heavily influences the constraints of our choices in industrialized landscapes; it "enforces limits upon the possible and the necessary."5 For Winner, such constraints on our necessities and desires become
Michael Truscello, ―The Disruptive Time of the Gift: (Radical) Imagination at Work in Free and Open Source Software,‖ Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 2010, pp. 141-172.
142 "highly specific" once a "particular technical form" is adopted as a general social form,6 which produces a condition of "necessity through aimless drift." 7 Today’s ubiquitous computing in the West is an example of a specific technical form often dictating necessities and delimiting desires. In order to help us map the question of the radical imagination in a digital age, I posit the congregation of these two properties of contemporary industrialized life, the timely demands of (digital) work and the condition of technological drift, as both the greatest barrier and the most prolific opportunity for radical imagining today. The radical imagining both annulled by and berthed by technological drift is consonant with Alex Khasnabish's Deleuzian vision of contemporary resistance to the status quo: …committed resistance to the status quo and the active building of alternatives to it do not emerge as a consequence of singular events that provoke them, they emerge out of a confluence of events, inspirations, encounters, imaginations, desires, movements, and individuals.8 The scale and capacity of the internet and other massive, complex contemporary technosocial systems contribute to the production of "rhizomatic networks of connections amongst 'the real' (individuals, movements, systems of power) and 'the more-than-real' (imaginations, languages, and repertoires embodying new political horizons)";9 such technosocial systems also create a condition of "necessity through aimless drift," in which the radical imagination is significantly delimited by the confluence and contraction of physiological needs and technological imperatives. While we imagine alternatives to global technocapitalism in many forms and directions simultaneously, most of our desired futures are curbed, captured, or co-opted by the technological infrastructure in which we imagine. Reflecting on the absence of a real resistance to the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s, German journalist Sebastian Haffner (pseudonym of Raimund Pretzel) wrote, "It was just this automatic continuation of ordinary life that hindered any lively, forceful reaction against the horror."10 To begin to imagine radical possibilities in "the technological society"11 involves, first, rhizomatic technosocial discontinuities in everyday life, breaks from the "automatic continuation" that syncopates our lives. These discontinuities need not constitute an anarchoprimitivist longing for the obliteration of the technological society; rather, they provide the temporal dislocation, or making time, from technocapitalist dressage, or training, necessary for the alternatives to be considered and constructed.
In this article, I explore the notion of making time for a radical imagination; in particular, I consider the gift culture of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in terms of poststructuralist understandings of gifting which posit the gift as a form of deferral, a structure of uncertainty, and the temporal basis of subjectivity. Critics who reduce FOSS to either a utopian discourse or the neoliberal property regime negate the temporal dislocation from capitalist regimentation and the imaginative opportunities made possible by FOSS practices. This disruptive "gift of time," however, remains circumscribed by the technosocial constraints of our current moment of hypercapitalist globalization. Thus, to make time for radical imagining is only a small but essential part of the success of radical politics. And while FOSS gifting is not a comprehensive and radical solution to contemporary forms of oppression, it is one place for radical imagining to occur, and it is a place that proliferates transversally across the technological society because so much of our landscape is encoded by globalized networked systems. The trajectory of FOSS development must look beyond the current cottage industry of at-home programming-for-profit and toward a more radical future in which the success of FOSS sets in motion ontological proclivities in everyday life that become "transversal tools [clefs]" through which "subjectivity is able to install itself simultaneously in the realms of the environment, in the major social and institutional assemblages, and symmetrically in the landscapes and fantasies of the most intimate spheres of the individual."12 The opportunity exists to program progressive habits of communication, cooperation, and collaboration into these transversal tools. Such a radical project begins by taking time away from capitalism. Theorizing FOSS: Recent FOSS Scholarship The FOSS movements have become central social developments in the computing world and beyond. Advocates of FOSS promote the accessibility and distribution of software source code for operating systems and software applications, which not only allows these programs to be distributed free of charge but also changed, enhanced, adjusted and reprogrammed by competent users. Today, FOSS represents a crucial part of the software-design scene around the world, not only providing free alternatives to brand-name computer programs (like Open Office and Linux) but supplying crucial if unseen elements of global network and computer infrastructure. While often taken together, there are differences between Free Software and Open Source movements, largely defined by the sort of software "license" associated with their products. Free Software activists tend to equate the transparency of source code with an egalitarian society and believe that software should be free to access, modify, and redistribute, regardless of price. Open Source advocates, alternatively, tend to see software licenses as a The Disruptive Time of the Gift
Obviously. Christopher Kelly's Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Early commentator Steven Weber suggests the "success of open source is a political story" 14 that "has reframed and recast some of the most basic problems of governance.144 pragmatic engineering choice. open source code) and proprietary (closed source code) software. The distinction raised between Open Source and Free Software creates a false impression that one is ideological and one is not. Dexter's Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software." and that the "regulability of behavior in cyberspace […] crucially depends on whether the application space of cyberspace is dominated by open code. language. A different set of terms is required to demarcate the implicit politics of FOSS. Michael Truscello . Most critics today. while globe-spanning. because the licenses associated with it are more flexible than Free Software licenses and allow for ownership. because it does not allow the source code to be taken private under any conditions."13 Thus. They also characterize Free Software as a "political" or "ideological" or "moral" choice. Open Source advocates represent Open Source Software as nothing but a pragmatic choice. and often permit combining nonproprietary (i. when both are clearly ideological because both engender particular social formations and advocate for particular rights on behalf of users."16 At least three recent books have attempted to refine and expand our understanding of FOSS. the generic definitions of FOSS are limited in scope and misleading. Much excitement has greeted the rise of FOSS practices in the past decade as a means to overcome and undermine the power structures of our current moment by undermining or circumventing the major bastions of corporate computing and stifling intellectual property rights and ushering in a new age of unmediated communication and digital possibility. A useful place to begin is with Matthew Fuller's definition of FOSS as "a socio-technical pact between users of certain forms of license. the assemblage of FOSS computing is not simply an expression of a property regime or utopian thought. since Weber and Lessig articulated their popular analyses: Samir Chopra and Scott D."15 while renowned scholar. are relatively limited to professional and semi-professional programmers or geeks and their advocates and supporters. and environment. but instead should be considered in transversal terms. copyright activist and FOSS advocate Lawrence Lessig proclaims "code is law. however. agree that early optimism about a whole global society contributing to and shaping their software has given way to a reality of online FOSS scenes which. and Johan Soderberg's Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement. existing within a complex web of social and technological relationships that affect one another in complicated and dynamic ways. not an ethical one. that is.e." He continues that "the various forms of free or open-source software are developed as part of the various rhythms of life of software production.
unlike Free Software. the relevance of FOSS extends beyond property regimes and engineering practices and has broad implications for emerging social trends.23 The Disruptive Time of the Gift . Chopra and Dexter therefore rightly note that the "ideological differences" between Free and Open Source software are crucial." 17 Of interest to them "are the political. remains in place. artistic. networked capital disaggregates centralized labour power."19 They partially exclude Open Source from this anarchist ideal because. a good that sits uncomfortably in any taxonomy of goods and products. Chopra and Dexter make another key observation. and the ever-present possibility of forking renders their authority contingent. and scientific freedoms" enabled by FOSS. The changes promised by the FOSS economy will remain only partially realized so long as software.21 More problematic is their claim that FOSS communities are "devoid of coercion: authority figures emerge at the will of the community. they argue "for transparency in governmentality in the information age. the failure to recognize a programmer's knowledge as the true source of value." and believe FOSS "embodies the anarchist ideal of eliminating the indiscriminate. Chopra and Dexter admit their book is "partly an expression of a utopian hope. the "rhetorical thrust of the open-source community… is an invitation to co-optation.18 a worthy embrace of various lines of flight often ignored in FOSS research. opaque application of power."22 Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the discursive bases of FOSS communities impede coercion.145 Collectively. but that ultimately subtle forms of psychological or sociological coercion exist apart from the constitution of the software license. the gift (economy of FOSS) is context-dependent and not part of a gift/commodity binary. but this centrifugal movement may become the basis for making capital redundant as labour begins to use the available technologies to exclude capital from the processes of production. partly an expression of the fear that a liberatory moment is slipping away. these texts foreground several key insights about FOSS: FOSS licenses promote the anarchist ideal of community without coercion. is misconstrued as a commodity. and so long as the fundamental source of alienation. neither is impervious to the influence of the other. the political (gift) economy of FOSS is situated within (and often contradicts) market exchanges and state copyright laws. Ultimately."20 witnessed quite explicitly in the corporate celebration of Open Source but not Free Software. one echoed by gift economy theorists to be discussed below: The free software political economy is not cleanly separable from the larger political economy in which it is situated.
"are not merely linguistic ones."25 This is another reason why Open Source proponents who frame their practices as merely pragmatic are incorrect: FOSS constitutes a transversal social assemblage. When Chopra and Dexter write "to free software is to free our selves. one achieved without coercion. especially in a world of pervasive computing.146 This is where many theorists go astray: They fail to recognize the gift economy of FOSS as situated and susceptible to the agonisms of the current social order of late capitalism. sexual orientation. they have long-term implications for the communities they define. "Rhetorical choices in framing manifestos. control. Kelly situates technology as pre-ideological."28 Where Chopra and Dexter place too much emphasis on technology as the "root" or prime mover of the social." write Chopra and Dexter. FOSS programmers are part of what Kelly calls "recursive publics." they write. free or not. But beyond its "roots of power"27 in technology there are the identities and imaginations of FOSS practitioners that are typically absent from the discussion of technology as these are intersected by gender. When code is opened. disability. but instead come to them through their involvement in the practices of creating Free Software and its derivatives. Kelly hopes "to show how geeks do not start with ideologies. Chopra and Dexter also justifiably understand FOSS software licenses "as providing social structure and a set of values that regulate their respective communities. transparent society. There are "implications" of FOSS beyond the immediate gaggle of technophiles who share code. one that by making participation in it voluntary attains the true meaning of a compact. A similar form of technodeterminism informs Christopher Kelly's Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software.26 Such an analysis is a suitable beginning for understanding the potential of FOSS. we have the power to view the machinery of authority. instead of being co-constructed with the social. and so on. "Because the cyborg world brings to life new legal and political structures. colonialism. Even in its prominence as a shaper of the social."24 a distinction for the licenses that articulates the social transversally beyond the limited discourse of property regimes or engineering practices. and maintain the infrastructure that allows them to come into being in Michael Truscello . as code merges with law. we can see in its fundamentals the glimmerings of a new. and they enthusiastically idealize FOSS gifting as the realization of liberatory politics." they have committed a common form of hyperbole in the literature on FOSS. race. technology never escapes the social. one that elides the very real social power relations that haunt software. modify. In addition to their recognition of the contested terrain of FOSS gifting." or publics concerned with the ability to build.
and networks within which geeks live. was the seminal Free Software project. or that this politicization will be liberatory in nature. To suggest that [the FOSS gift economy] represents some kind of "outside" to a functioning economic market based in money is to misperceive how transformative of markets UNIX and the Internet (and Free Software) have been. Kelly does not believe FOSS represents "an ethical stance. contract.147 the first place and which. if we take the question of the gift seriously. anarchism. software. it "was never entirely outside of the mainstream market. Conventional political philosophies like libertarianism. and sees radical political philosophies lacking similar analyses: Geeks gather through the Internet and. FOSS is certainly an ethical form of knowledge/practice. While I disagree with Kelly's ethical/ideological framing of FOSS. prestige and cooperation and the broader neoliberal capitalist economy.30 While some anarchist authors and activists have "captured these social imaginaries" by referencing the tools of the FOSS trade in their analyses. In addition. there is a danger in the form of ideological causality promoted by Kelly (similar to the form of causality registered by Chopra and Dexter) that would imagine that FOSS practices will create the conditions of inevitable politicization."32 and FOSS remains similarly situated between its own economy of free labour. possess nascent ideas of independence. a recursive public that is specific to the technical and moral imaginations of order in the contemporary world of geeks. and constitution by which they wish to govern themselves and resist governance by others. in turn. and in turn seek to build and extend." but instead is simply a "practical response" to technical "problems.29 Kelly's framing of FOSS emphasizes the technical materiality of the gift economy. like a self-governing people." and "the best way to understand this response is to see it as a kind of public sphere. I find his positioning of the FOSS gift economy (or "sharing economy" in his words) a refreshing antidote to popular thought on the matter. the forerunner to Linux and the basic architecture of the internet. constitutes their everyday practical commitments and the identities of the participants as creative and autonomous individuals. work. He writes that while UNIX. and (neo)liberalism only partially capture these social imaginaries precisely because they make no reference to the operating systems."31 But as I will suggest below. They have initiated an imagination of moral and technical order that is not at all opposed to ideologies The Disruptive Time of the Gift .
he sees a liberal vision of FOSS as a reformative mechanism rather than a radical one. Soderberg argues the essential radical and generative quality of FOSS—which he sees as "in continuation with more than two hundred years of labour struggle"40—is that it sits "outside" market exchanges. Chopra and Dexter taint their analyses with elements of technodeterminism but Soderberg's claims are largely about the organizational qualities of FOSS: The FOSS movement is unique only because."38 This type of play—computer hacking— "sets the hacker movement apart from the 'gestures of protest' of more traditional political organizations."34 Specifically.42 Michael Truscello . However. Finally among recent books about FOSS."41 Kelly. not only illegal digital breakand-enters) typical of FOSS programming "undermines the social division of labour as the regulating principle for technological development. even as "FOSS developers are deeply embedded in the capitalist society." He suggests that the "repercussions" of the powers-that-be against this type of hacking play "guarantees that a class consciousness is passed on from generation to generation. FOSS demonstrates. instead. Johan Soderberg's Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Movement sees the "chief accomplishment" of FOSS as its "novel approach to arranging labour power. it has demonstrated a prototype for struggle that is generic…. in exploiting the failures of the capitalist system.33 Of course."36 Soderberg believes the computer "hacking" (by which he means intensive and obsessive coding. if anything.e.148 of market-based governance."39 Unlike Kelly."37 He sees the type of collaborative "production" that happens in FOSS communities as "disjointed from capitalist circulation."35 Indeed. his initial observation—that FOSS gifting has never been entirely "outside" market economies—remains valid. Soderberg claims that "the hacker movement is part of a much broader undercurrent revolting against the boredom of commodified labour and needs satisfaction. the place of the politics of "play": "Play is a showcase of how labour self-organises its constituent power outside the confines of market exchanges. It will be argued that self-organised labour can outrun firms in all sectors where the concentration of fixed capital (i. a check on the power of existing authority. large-scale machinery) and the division of labour (specialised knowledge) is not an insurmountable threshold. contra Kelly. Indeed. what UNIX and Free Software represent is an imagination of how to change an entire market-based governance structure—not just specific markets in things—to include a form of public sphere. Kelly is denying a truly radical imagination for FOSS.
many of whom are formally employed writing software for large corporations. the chief sociological feature of FOSS programming may resemble what French theorist Michel de Certeau called "la perruque. the creator of Linux. as a student."43 Soderberg's astute analysis identifies other possible sites of radical imagining as FOSS use expands. is a perfect example of someone with little capital (cultural or otherwise) who.48 La perruque is a tactic that "diverts time"49 from the factory and capitalist accumulation. "digitalisation is consistent with capital's quest to disband workers and uproot the remaining strongholds of organised labour. one that attempts to make capital redundant: "Since all points in production have been transformed into potentially redundant nodes of a network. Linus Torvalds. It differs from pilfering in that nothing of material value is stolen." De Certeau explains that: La perruque is the worker's own work disguised as work for his employer."47 In other words. into a node subject to circumvention."46 He proposes a solution that takes advantage of this disaggregation of labour power. For Soderberg the concerns of most hackers—"mainly free access to information"—are less important. though related. It differs from absenteeism in that the worker is officially on the job." or "the wig."45 More generally. and environmental concerns. at a moment when the digital economy and computerized. Soderberg sees networked capital as a force that largely serves to disaggregate centres of labour power. labour. and gender issues. FOSS and Empire At first blush. globalized management has rendered workers disposable and interchangeable. notably "labour relations. In a similar way. however. inviting hundreds of programmers around the world to divert their time towards developing the Linux The Disruptive Time of the Gift ."44 Against these radical possibilities. Soderberg argues that. arguing that "networked capital turns every point of production. to broader "social. workers are now in a position to use those same technologies to organize themselves and their work outside of the dictates of capitalist accumulation. the standing of developing countries.149 Importantly. while the hacker prototype for struggle may be generic. mobilized his technical skills to become a project leader of sorts. Open Source capitalizes on the voluntary efforts of programmers. the specific instantiation of struggle in the contemporary FOSS communities has yet to realize its radical potential because it is steeped in technolibertarian thought that prizes an individualist notion of freedom rather than any sense of collective liberation. capital as a factor of production in the network has itself become a node subject to redundancy. from the firm down to the individual work assignment.
which strives to make software free and accessible for modification without copyright." a form of politics based in the emerging possibilities for affinity. however. given its contemporary deployment for profit? Influential radical theorists of globalization Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri frame FOSS. and they use techno-libertarian Eric Raymond to do so: We might also understand the decision-making capacity of the multitude in analogy with the collaborative development of computer software and the innovations of the open-source Michael Truscello . Open Source is the more capital-friendly alternative because it does not proscribe profiteering. Software code is always a collaborative project." a claim that is untrue. if FOSS software were not so protected it would be public domain and susceptible to proprietization by corporate interests. specifically Open Source. resistance and solidarity and that "stands between sovereignty and anarchy. Ironically. as a realization of what they call "the multitude. or. More problematic. Department of Defense and other government bureaucracies) renders the analogy of "open-source" in Hardt and Negri's discussion of multitude problematic." But Open Source does remain a tactical manoeuvre that exists outside an institutional enclosure.150 operating system. They write: The open-source movement.51 They include an endnote in which they attach "open-source movement" to Richard Stallman's collection. Free Software. Once corporate America discovered Open Source en masse around 1998 it was even more likely that the proceeds and developments of la perruque digitale went straight into the company coffers. the better it can become. for example. Free Society. Oracle.S. offers a more radical example [of the multitude]…. is the claim that "open-source" software may be modified "without copyright. The central question is: Can the FOSS gift economy be recuperated by alterglobalization forms and trajectories. and widely used by the U. Arguably. in the case of Free Software a mechanism Stallman calls copyleft."50 But the inscription of FOSS within the central mechanisms of capitalist sovereignty (immersed in copyright and patent laws. embraced by IBM. immediately raising the problem of the distinction between Open Source and Free Software. one of the paradoxes of FOSS is that it depends for its existence on copyright. Open Source is not coextensive with la perruque because most of this time is being diverted from other leisure activities and not "the factory. But Hardt and Negri wish to make the analogy with the multitude quite specific. and SAP. However. and the more people who can see and modify it. Free Software and the copyleft "General Public Licence" (GPL) are more compelling examples of the emerging "common" tendency than Open Source because of the way sharing is inscribed in the license.
better social programs. In order to move beyond these more limited treatments of the politics of FOSS and the radical imagination it stems from and contributres to. a society whose source code is revealed so that we all can work collaboratively to solve its bugs and create new. The Maussian notion of the gift arrived at the birth of structuralist thought in Europe but also became problematic for structuralist readings of exchange because its pivotal term. FOSS gifting may be recuperated as what I am calling a kairotic technosocial assemblage. Hardt and Negri champion the ideas of Eric Raymond. since a variety of different programmers with different approaches and agendas all contribute collaboratively […. In this way. as pristine cathedrals created by individual geniuses. however. and in the more than 230. the preeminent FOSS clearing-house and meeting point) is not a multitude. describing FOSS as analogous with the multitude is inaccurate. Structuralists who sought to reduce the complex and diverse gift practices of non-Western cultures to mere functionalism could not account for its depth of meaning and seemingly The Disruptive Time of the Gift . and Eric Raymond) and in practice (in IBM's billion-dollar commitment.151 movement […. that is. whose right-wing libertarian leanings are legendary and evident throughout the essays collected in his influential book The Cathedral and the Bazaar. is as an open-source society. Linus Torvalds. in contrast to the cathedral style. The History of the Gift The classical definition of the political economy of gift culture provided by Marcel Mauss in the early twentieth century situates the gift as a direct precursor of commodity exchange.000 FOSS projects and over 2 million registered users at SourceForge. in theory (in the writings and programs of Richard Stallman. The FOSS gift economy has a place in opposition to what Hardt and Negri call "Empire. then. rather than the purely material. as Eric Raymond puts it.net.] Raymond calls this. The open-source movement takes the opposite approach [….52 After confusing Open Source with Free Software.] Programmers had thought of their programs. Hardt and Negri are primarily interested in FOSS as a model of generic open collaboration. the Maori notion of hau or "spirit of the gift. Obviously. But without exploring the particulars of this social assemblage." placed the central mechanism of gift exchange in the realm of the mystical.] One approach to understanding the democracy of the multitude." but not in the way it is idealized by Hardt and Negri. FOSS as it actually exists. the bazaar method of software development. I turn now to read the gift economy through the lenses of several poststructuralist thinkers.
"55 The "cultural turn" in FOSS development is revealing the prescience of this observation. made up of chance and encounters. and so on). beyond the simple heuristics of transparency. therefore the perpetual.57 Michael Truscello . juridical. various physiological rhythms. as FOSS procurement departs from the parameters of its masculinist and technolibertarian origins. and positions of submission and domination are similarly contingent. contra Mauss. as the entire process can be disjointed from economic cycles and imperatives. demarcated from a commodity only by the context in which exchange occurs. where linear rhythms are produced by the social (the rhythm of work). social." writes Lefebvre. A gift cannot be reciprocated immediately: time must pass before a "counter-service" can be offered. but as a part of all human relationships."53 As Marilyn Strathern says. Mauss also suggested the gift imposed a time limit on the obligation to reciprocate." 54 And according to the feminist reading of the gift by Hélène Cixous. For example. causes to circulate. and cyclical rhythms are products of the natural (the rise and fall of the sun. Even subtle distinctions such as the ability of local culture to freely modify software to operate using an indigenous language produce a less arrthymic technology. and it is the systemic feature of the gift—its "total prestation" as an economic. in the values that the gesture of giving affirms. The distinction is similar to. and out into the agonistic sociality of subjectification. "The basis for classification does not inhere in the objects themselves but in how they are transacted and to what ends. "all the difference lies in the why and how of the gift. where the differences of the "how and why of the gift" are front and centre. "the recipient not only ignores the obligation of return but also remains superior to the donor.152 illogical patterns of commerce. in the type of profit the giver draws from the gift and the use to which he or she puts it. The gift is an indicator of relationality. But Mauss recognized that the gift was part of a larger social system. This discretionary part of FOSS gifting can influence significantly the reasons why one gifts. Yunxiang Yan discusses a Chinese village in which there is an "asymmetrical gift that flows up the ladder of society."56 While the deferral enabled by FOSS development does not make FOSS development an essentially cyclical rhythm. though not analogous with. "the linear is the daily grind. This second central component—the temporality of the gift—is particularly important to the radical quality of FOSS because the discretionary moment of deferral necessitated by a FOSS license is a significant part of what separates the social assemblage of FOSS from that of the proprietary license tied to the rhythms of capitalist cycles. "The cyclical is social organisation manifesting itself. and aesthetic phenomenon—that poststructuralist thinkers have utilized to examine the role of gift exchange in the construction of subjectivity not only within cultures of conspicuous gift-giving. the routine. Henri Lefebvre's differentiation of linear and cyclical rhythms. it does make the development process less rhythmically linear and artificial." and. he factored temporality prominently in the political economy of the gift.
"60 All of these potentialities that make the gift a "dangerous phenomenon" also gesture at the reasons why radical imagining. Often. even for a regime of economic value. "Homesteading the Noosphere" suggests that Open Source programmers operate within a postThe Disruptive Time of the Gift .153 Of course many FOSS projects are deeply integrated with economic cycles. the notion of the gift serves rather to expose disciplinary limitations in the demarcation of social behaviour. the relationship between risk and freedom is directly proportional: the greater the potential risk. the risk that one may accrue burdensome obligations. the risk of the loss of freedom. or that uninterrupted motives and calculations subtend specific forms of interaction (all of which tend to be the conclusion of reductive studies of the gift). expands this notion of the gift as a dangerous phenomenon by calling it "the zero-level of civility. to abolish the dichotomies of vertical forms of social categories."58 Mark Osteen takes the ethical demand of the gift even further." extensions of his ethnographic survey of "parallel debugging" (what would come to be known as Open Source) in The Cathedral and the Bazaar. militarism. is such a rare and powerful act. is that trust may be rebuffed or exploited by an unsympathetic partner or community. something afforded by gifting. transversal relations that unbind the disciplinary categories of economics and construct the gift as "the space or figure that impels ethical and political considerations. or reverse oppressive social arrangements whose authority is predicated on substantial forms of economics. following the lead of Marshall Sahlins—who framed the gift as "destructive" of the normative social bond because of its inherent ambiguity and seemingly vindictive logic. racism. the point at which it is polite to behave impolitely. escape. the paradoxical point at which restrained civility and obscene consumption overlap. In the most pedestrian sense. The act of radical imagining makes an ethical demand with substantial risk and potential loss of freedom."59 Slavoj Žižek. and to give concrete but temporary expression to social assemblages. gifting represents the invocation of trust in human affairs. then. confound. or that a clear separation of gift and commodity exchange is possible. calling the gift "a dangerous phenomenon because it involves risk: the risk that one may give without reciprocation. Instead of proving that human subjectivity is reducible to ultimately selfish or ultimately altruistic behaviour. the greater the potential freedom. Giving It Away: A Capital Idea The principal accounts of gifting in Open Source Software are Eric Raymond's essays "Homesteading the Noosphere" and "The Magic Cauldron. circumvent. What makes gifting powerful is that it can interrogate. and this further complicates the matter. ableism. the risk that one may never be able to repay a gift. What makes gifting dangerous. and so on. The gift stabilizes a set of transversal social relations.
exchange economy. Raymond extends this discussion of innate drives and the inevitability of capitalism. "Most gift cultures are compromised. given the laws of nature and the instinctive wiring of human beings." he writes. in a similar way. perhaps. which is accomplished in three ways: command hierarchy. No significant analogues of these exist in the opensource culture.62 The motivation for programmers to contribute voluntarily to a public good such as FOSS is. the industrial/factory mode of software production was doomed to be outcompeted from the moment capitalism began to create enough of a wealth surplus that many programmers could live in a post-scarcity gift culture."63 The desire for status is matched with a need to adapt to scarcity. in Raymond's eyes. and often presume too strongly that Open Source culture is somehow pure and unobstructed by the social agonisms that shape every other facet of society. Raymond argues. Raymond writes that "ultimately. even as competition could drive down the price of proprietary software. command hierarchies do not work. to explain the homologous organization of Open Source Software and academic culture: I suspect academia and the hacker culture share adaptive patterns not because they're genetically related.154 scarcity gift economy based on ego-boosting and reputation.64 In the presence of abundance. because in these "social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away."61 Raymond's assumptions in these essays are explicitly essentialist with regards to a competitive concept of "human nature" and based on his rightwing libertarianism. but because they've both evolved the one most optimal social organization for what they're trying to do. "it's wired in by our evolutionary history. concluding that because most paid-for programming work involves the maintenance of in-house software. and the only way to distinguish oneself as a programmer is by earning a reputation by the assessment of one's peers. or by command-economy relationships such as family or clan groupings. Open Source is a gift culture in which there is an abundance of computing power."65 By this definition. the reputation-game gift culture is the globally optimal way to Michael Truscello . thus. but gift cultures do." he writes. The verdict of history seems to be that free-market capitalism is the globally optimal way to cooperate for economic efficiency. In fact. a product of inherently selfish behaviour: "Human beings have an innate drive to compete for social status. either by exchange-economy relationships such as trade in luxury goods. Open Source will not kill the market for programmers but instead will create more demand. and gift culture. "The Magic Cauldron" examines how Open Source functions within a broader exchange economy. ways of gaining status other than by peer repute are virtually absent.
such as Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) licenses. Both Raymond and Microsoft portray "the market" as a self-contained. In Given Time I: Counterfeit Money. Though Microsoft's proprietization of the source code would seem to contradict the pragmatism of Open Source programmers. But." because that would take the form of a rejection of the gift as a gift and reduce the social intercourse to mere exchange. "time is needed in order to perform any counter-service. the deferral of counter-service is a crucial ontological necessity for the gift to function. There is no invisible mechanism—whether ecological equilibrium or economic rationalism—guiding social organization under the rubric of software development. "the problematic of oikonomia."67 While the obligation to give (back) is essential to Maussian gifting. but in different ways. Jacques Derrida. when in reality even the most unrestricted markets in history have been thoroughly mediated by multiple overlapping non-market power relations. of circulation. and Pierre Bourdieu temporality is a central component of gift culture ontology. is only possible if time (impossibly) stops. But Raymond takes a context-specific activity such as gifting and imposes on it a host of determinations about human nature and the inevitability of capitalism. in reality. For Mauss. gifts circulate in obligatory fashion as part of a total social system. of return"." implies "the idea of exchange. what FOSS developers are doing is gifting: they are voluntarily donating code toward a project they do not own and for which they will receive little credit outside their own circles. In many ways Microsoft (the company at whose anti-trust trial Raymond would not testify against because he believed the issue of its monopoly was for the marketplace to decide) is pursuing the same form of economic determinism." The gift cannot "be reciprocated immediately. allow for the source code to be taken private (this is greater "freedom" than Free Software allows. Derrida argues that the idea of economy. it will take an unwrapping of the gift and its implications for software and everyday life. self-sustaining.155 cooperate for generating (and checking!) high-quality creative work. there is nothing natural or essential about gifting or its effects. The gift. self-regulating entity. Given Time: Derrida For theorists such as Mauss. a reciprocity that definitionally operates within an "obligatory time limit. Of course. or whatever. rather.66 Raymond's technolibertarian predilections turn the gift economy into a filter for economic determinism. they would say). To understand the implications of gifting within the socially ascribed boundaries of FOSS. or capitalism. in theory some Open Source licenses. for Derrida. but the gift stands outside the circulation of exchange and interrupts The Disruptive Time of the Gift . Derrida extends the notion of the "obligatory time limit" to challenge the very possibility of gifting in the first place.
" Technocultural volunteerism becomes ontological latency." This aporia opens an interrogation of the limitations of structuralist categories and disciplinary boundaries that are based on a more strict and unproblematized notion of the gift. specifically fellow anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss's complaint that the mystical hau as an ultimate explanation for exchange shifted the analysis of exchange from an objective to a subjective register.156 economy. The gift. or creativity? Why is there no feminist word processor or ethical search engine? The radical potential of FOSS remains mired in the legalistic and economic concerns of those who profit from code and the primary authors of code.68 The gift is that which "opens the circle so as to defy reciprocity or symmetry.] What it gives. there is an opportunity to reconsider the full potential of the sense of "giving time." So in order to have a gift one must have the absence of reciprocity. testing. There must be time. Derrida explodes the Maussian figuring of the gift by harnessing the centrifugal force of its temporality: The gift is not a gift.. is time. The thing must not be restituted immediately and right away. there must be waiting—without forgetting. debugging. the negation of return to the origin. "highlighting in particular their inability to accept undecidability in the social.. temporality is a central dynamic because FOSS projects need not develop according directly to the rhythms of economic cycles."70 This poststructuralist critique of the gift separates the concept from a Maussian essentialism and subjectivism (in the Westernized appropriation of the Maori concept of the hau in particular) and the structuralist critique of Mauss. it must last. Why program today for Microsoft what you can program tomorrow for liberty. In light of the temporality of FOSS collaborative programming. How can the Michael Truscello . and beta releases—is continually subject to programmatic prorogation.69 The aporia created by the gift "consists of the fact that the condition of the gift's possibility is simultaneously the condition of its impossibility. The FOSS development cycle—with its moment of initiation. The difference between a gift and every other operation of pure and simple exchange is that the gift gives time [. but this gift of time is also a demand of time. design of features. the gift only gives to the extent it gives time.. the gift. code implementation. resistance. The deferral of the gift—the time given—may offer a contemplative discontinuation of the software development life-cycle that promotes forms of software more synchronous with a radical imagination. to understand that society is always more and less than its structures and that these structures are themselves performances. idiosyncratic desires and situations of their diverse collaborators. in stark contrast to the corporate management of programmers’ time in the mainstream software industry. only becomes possible with the impossible interruption of all circulation.71 In the context of FOSS. and the initial justification for a FOSS project may emerge from non-institutional. then. to time given and time demanded. in ways the rigid demarcation of economic cycles and the privation of profit simply cannot justify.
open law. he shifts focus of the gift economy away from whether "generosity and disinterestedness are possible" and toward "the political question of the means that have to be implemented in order to create universes in which. rather. environmental restoration. Like Derrida. and so on—simply public sector responses to the encroachment of private sector initiatives to control and contain software development and its social extensions? Bourdieu explains where his theory of habitus differs from other major demarcations of gifting: The analysis of gifts that I put forward in Outline of a Theory of Practice and The Logic of Practice [.74 Whereas Mauss assumes the triadic structure of gift giving. and are FOSS’s affiliated concepts—open access."72 In other words. his term for everyday dispositions and practices. Bourdieu's notion of habitus challenges the continuity of this model. for the time lag between gift and counter-gift. on three fundamental points: it makes room for time. habituated gestures and dispositions into a theoretical model of social interaction. or more precisely..157 broader radical community convince some programmers to give their time for the benefit of gender justice. Who is to say when an act The Disruptive Time of the Gift . or. and it relates gift exchange to a quite specific logic. it brings in a theory of the agent and of action that makes the dispositions constituting the habitus. as in gift economies. are durably disposed to respect these universally respected forms of respect for the universal. in particular the phenomenological and structuralist ones. and gift reciprocation possesses a transparent sense of agency (an uninterrupted flow of social commitments in which there is no such thing as a free gift).73 The importance of the first point—the deferral between gift and counter-gift—is similar to that of Mauss and Derrida. and for uncertainty. and the direct reciprocation that must follow. gift receiving. people have an interest in disinterestedness and generosity. when one is receiving a gift. rather than consciousness or intention. the basis of practices. and labour solidarity.. that of the economy of symbolic goods and the specific belief (illusion) that underlies it. for example. the certainty that one always knows when one is giving a gift. Under what conditions will generosity be rewarded? Is FOSS. he shifts the frame of the gift away from innate drives and towards the conditions that dispose people to generosity. simply the necessary practice of people operating under software oligopolies. instead of simply for the efficiency of their professional endeavours? The Liminality of Habitus: Bourdieu Bourdieu situates the gift within the liminality of habitus. but for Bourdieu the function of time in everyday practice is to "reintroduce uncertainty" and the rhythm of learned.]departs from previous theories.
as has been seen."80 While Coleman's use of habitus echoes Michael Truscello . the collectively maintained and approved self-deception. Such an analysis can help us understand FOSS practices with more nuance and political attention. apprehended from outside and after the event.76 Instead of the continuity of reciprocity. Instead. the dominant class perpetuates its dominance not by forced submission but by economic and cultural capital. both forced and self-interested."75 He explains: To be truly objective." 78 But for Bourdieu. for example. each deferral of the gifting process. only be realized in the counter-gift which consecrates it as such). appears as a cycle of reciprocity. far from unfolding mechanically. or challenges must allow for the fact that.Through this misrecognition. to be seen as reversible."77 In this deferral. and that each of the inaugural acts that sets it up is always liable to fall flat and so. Bourdieu reintroduces into the theory of the gift the uncertainty of each interval. which is reproduced through institutions and practices. Gabriella Coleman. presupposes a continuous creation and may be interrupted at any stage. an analysis of exchange of gifts. the series of acts which. for lack of a response. this is intimately tied to power relations. in spite of a general "political agnosticism. and collective action) experiences formed around the pragmatics of programming and the aesthetics of technical architectures. Bourdieu focuses on early education and lived experience and the way they inculcate certain dispositions "constantly demanded and reinforced by the group. The notion of habitus removes an individualistic notion of intention from the gifting formula and works instead with the production of dispositions that individual subjects are "spontaneously inclined to produce"79 because they are dispositions that subjects assume will be rewarded and become ingrained in the body by repeated practice. symbolic power. that is. then. without which the [gift] exchange could not function. to be stripped retrospectively of its intentional meaning (the subjective truth of the gift can. words.158 of generosity becomes something else? Reading intent into a social interaction is always post facto. is "the deliberate oversight. an immediate response to the gift would expose a misrecognition of what the gift is all about: "The interval between gift and counter-gift is what allows a relation of exchange that is always liable to appear as irreversible. As discussed above. and he illustrates how the temporality of uncertainty exposes the misrecognition of the gift as such." FOSS hackers' propensities for "expressive rights" (based on libertarian desires to act and speak as one wishes online) "are compelling to programmers because they hold affinities with their technical habitus borne from 'practical' (as in meaningful. and inscribed in the postures and gestures of the body. embodied. presumed after the event. contends.
licenses." he says. even as they proclaimed political agnosticism. the internalized structures of the habitus. what Bourdieu calls the doxa. is the misrecognition of the power disparity and the concurrent reproduction of class-based dispensations that entrench inequality in social intercourse and people’s self-perceptions and bodily existence. there is not the conscious intention (calculating or not) of an isolated individual but the disposition of the habitus. Exposed to a wider or at least different social space. and various other social fields— an ecology of a global digital moment where software is no longer the plaything of a small fraction of society but an intimate part of the fabric of social life for billions of people. the inaugural gift in a series of gifts.81 For the early development of FOSS language. which is generosity and which tends. This is a framework that draws attention to the field of social positions in which the grammar of the habitus produces dispositions toward certain forms of distinction.159 Kelly's "recursive publics. toward the conservation and increase of symbolic capital. and practices. The everydayness. But the application of habitus to FOSS programming reminds us how making time for radical imagining can be configured as a step away from habitus. without explicit and express intention. In other words. economics." if only to produce a moment of self-awareness. largely based on the dispositions encouraged by their immediate technological lifeworld. And it is the embodied misrecognition. the taken-for-grantedness of our social reality. university-educated mostly white men in Silicon Valley) increasingly becomes— with the spread of pervasive computing and the integration of software with politics. What was once a political agnosticism borne of relatively enclosed and homogeneous programming ecologies (dominated by middle-class. at the basis of generous action. a different sense of their place in The Disruptive Time of the Gift . from those postures we are "inclined to produce. But the expansion of the programming ecology beyond Western universities and corporations has created forms of habitus whose symbolic capital has less to do with Raymond's purified world of technological proficiency and more to do with what Geert Lovink characterizes as a "cultural turn" in FOSS. aesthetics." the central flaw of these thinkers is their limited sense of habitus as simply the immediate technological encounter and the digital social sphere of FOSS programmers. the gift is never a pure or simple thing but always caught up not only in social power relations but also the way those power relations recreate and are recreated by bodies and subjects. that combine with articulations of symbolic capital and the uncertainty of lived experience to shape the relational framework of the gift. FOSS programmers will have different unconscious investments. Coleman's explanation seems agreeable: most FOSS practitioners probably learned to champion expressive rights. "In other words.
"85 For Bataille. and as a result will produce different practices and perceptions. The superfluity that I earlier posited as an essential quality of the gift applies to personhood as well. The current moment. In so doing we render economic concepts of loss and gain inadequate. As Bataille argues in The Accursed Share. a biological determinism that extends the principles of scarcity and competition to a variety of social fields beyond technology. Invocations of scarcity economics must be bisected transversally.160 the greater ecology. argues the opposite: the gift is an expression of human freedom because it frees "givers and receivers from ego boundaries and rationality. disrupting the notion of any stable individual identity. from Raymond's world of individualistic "homesteading" on the digital frontier to a much broader battle over the "commons" as the digital world becomes more tightly interlaced with the physical and social world.84 The excess of the gift destabilizes simplistic demarcations of selfish and altruistic behaviour because it expands the relational field of the self."82 Similarly. Accursed Code: Bataille One of Raymond's central contentions is that the gift economy of Open Source satisfies the needs of social organization by satisfying the innate egotistical needs of the participants. "economic science merely generalizes the isolated situation. especially in the rhetorical liminality of software. that of economic man. reflects a transformational state. But Mark Osteen. we must take a much broader view towards what he calls a "general economy" of the inexhaustible abundance of life and energy whose main problem is not the management of scarcity but the organization of waste Michael Truscello . by firmly attaching it to social relations. This occurs in ways familiar to denizens of both the network society and poststructuralist thought. it restricts its object to operations carried out with a view to a limited end. but in excess over it. or what Osteen describes as the gift's "superfluity": we cannot understand the gift if we persist in the idea that gifts are given and reciprocated by autonomous individuals. to assemble seemingly disparate categories and relations of subjectivity with the limiting disciplinarity of neoclassical economics. paradoxically. A radical imagination is required to bridge the transformation of FOSS computing from technolibertarian stock market bubbleblowing to anti-capitalist pin prick. the gift may more properly be said to operate beyond economy as a form of irreducible excess. following Georges Bataille and Georg Simmel. because in giving and receiving we expand the self. nor out of it. Antonio Calari describes this as the way in which the gift is "neither in economy."83 While Raymond and the technolibertarians would reduce everything to competitive economy.
the circumference of its influence grows. "it recognizes the kinship of the U. The question of the gift and its demarcative boundaries redounds across categories of software and everyday life. The subject of a programmable everyday lifeworld would be better equipped to understand the full form and capacity of software by recognizing the larger ecology of its development and deployment. "Is it possible. A recognition of this transversal power is an act of the radical imagination and could offer new means to radicalize and politicize the important though problematic sphere of FOSS activism. is inspired by the hacker’s whole habitus as it is intersected by environmental. As software becomes ubiquitous. gifting software creates excess that rearranges the constituents of the subculture: "For gifts are not only made by subjects but also make subjects. Allan Stockl notes that George Bataille’s The Accursed Share is not a conventional Cold War document because it does not focus on the containment and defeat of the Soviet Union. and the broader world of which it is an increasingly important part. it transforms the hacker. the terms of which are still soundly entrenched in the legal and economic machinery of a system that favours corporate mobilizations over individual creators. convertible social identities are fashioned. in addition to this. Ultimately the function of the gift's "superfluity" or "excess" suggests a concept of postmodern orientation that emerges from beyond the debate over proprietary versus nonproprietary software. the very idea that meaningful exchanges occur routinely outside the prescribed rational boundaries of the commodity) could transform the discussion of software in a timely fashion. such a The Disruptive Time of the Gift . nor is it merely a reflex of the FOSS subculture but. The context for gifting in the development of FOSS expands concomitantly with the application of FOSS across the digital landscape more broadly. in the post-cold war context. social and economic power relations. Contrary to many treatments of the book.S. assuming it to be the eternal human norm. Raymond's determinism "merely generalizes the isolated situation" of (one side of) the talented technophile.161 and excess. to think of gift giving in these terms. as Bataille did in the early cold war context?"88 As FOSS spreads throughout the world. This is where a demarcation of software that predicates the superfluity of the gift (in the most general sense. and all transactions are imbricated in the complex skein of made and withheld exchanges through which our fluctuating."87 Stockl emphasizes the social and cultural effect of Bataille’s notion of the general economy. Rather. the act of the FOSS gift does not stem from the isolated will of the hacker. Aside from boosting a programmer's reputation within a narrowly defined subculture. and wonders."86 In other words. the gift of FOSS not only transforms the software. In turn. the entire FOSS ecology as a whole. system with that of the Soviets—the individual has been subordinated in both—and it also affirms the necessity of the pressure the Soviets bring to bear.
1945-1951. as Bataille had hoped the Marshall Plan would? To answer that question. With hindsight." if you will. some observers. economic activity thus giving the surplus energy produced an outlet other than war […. Steven Weber suggests that the way in which Open Source "relies on a set of organizational structures to coordinate behavior around the problem of managing distributed innovation.91 Will FOSS become the stateless Marshall Plan of this era? Will its distribution of surplus technological innovation and notions of property based on "the right to distribute. it will become necessary. and its hegemonic apparatus. unique to open source.S. the idea of using a large share of the surplus for nonmilitary ends. the burgeoning U. economy. we must consider the actual contribution of the Marshall Plan. Bataille concludes The Accursed Share with a prophetic prediction based on the early implementation of the Marshall Plan: Mankind will move peacefully toward a general resolution of its problems only if this threat [the Soviet Union] causes the U."90 The Marshall Plan contributed $13 billion to the reconstruction of 16 European nations from 1948 to 1952. and the Soviet Union as a clash of economies and not "the struggle of two military powers for hegemony. in particular Alan Milward in The Reconstruction of Western Europe. The recovery of Western European economies was already under way in 1947." has "potentially broad consequences for economics and politics.] But if the Americans abandon the specific character of the Marshall Plan. have suggested Europe would have recovered on its own and the role of the Marshall Plan is overstated. not the right to exclude"92 become the foundation for a politics of increased cooperation between individuals.162 consideration of the cultural effects of free software gifting will not only become possible.S."89 Bataille's post-war elaboration of the principle of the general economy for the polis imagines the conflict between the U. the Marshall Plan proved beneficial to the growth of international capitalism. While it may have been motivated by a fear that the Soviet Union would take advantage of devastation in Europe for the spread of communism. the Plan had very significant geopolitical consequences: America's "return to Europe." He goes on to suggest that "the Marshall Plan offers an organization of surplus against the accumulation of the Stalin plans. Whatever its precise motivations (and they were complex). he argues: "In Michael Truscello . a century-defining act of international (capitalist) cooperation. this surplus will explode exactly where they will have decided it would." none of which is "entirely new. which included a military presence in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.S. to assign a large share of the excess—deliberately and without return—to raising the global standard of living. or confined to the Internet. Indeed.
The transversal trajectory of FOSS governance has the potential to produce dispositions within an everyday habitus that orient a greater number of people toward the symbolic power and reward of generosity. there is hope that its sense of governance will affect greater numbers on the The Disruptive Time of the Gift . the real gauge of its public is its initial offerings as disruptive gifts. kairotic: The Marshall Plan was important not so much for its substance as for its timing (as its designers understood)…." or training. Whatever the material reality of FOSS. because Eastern Europe was prevented by Stalin from accepting aid.95 Outside North America.] To that extent. the Marshall Plan was not redundant but it was not the most vital single element in Europe's post-war reconstruction.] Overcoming [this] widespread sense of gloom and incipient disaster and restoring public confidence was the first order of business […. the psychological boost provided by the Marshall Plan was much more important than the dollars themselves and was without a doubt absolutely necessary. to use a term I attach to technicity and gifting.94 It is in this sense that FOSS may become an analogous social phenomenon: the timing is right. then. it was also and perhaps above all psychological [….'s dominance seems practical. and to what Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre call "dressage. The key is the everyday category of repetition. It is central to the idea of habitus. to the separation of Western and Eastern Europe. Already observers have suggested perhaps the most important effect FOSS has had on the software industry is less economic than psychological. and an accelerated enclosure of the commons through increasingly (neo)liberal intellectual property laws. The Marshall Plan […] was not just economic and political. because for the first time in years a legitimate threat to Microsoft and co. However. Tony Judt argues the real importance of the Marshall plan was. While many FOSS observers and advocates (such as Raymond) measure its success by the initial public offerings of for-profit companies spun-out of FOSS initiatives. and its public exposure has arguably coincided with a surge and consolidation of what Hardt and Negri call Empire."93 And yet the Plan still contributed. several governments have sponsored FOSS initiatives and many of these initiatives explicitly intended to reduce the influence of American technocultural hegemony. FOSS has emerged as an international rhetorical ecology in the wake of unprecedented technological dominance by American software companies. its psychological impact is real and profound.163 purely technical terms. and it contributed to the decades of capitalist prosperity in Western Europe that followed. for example. As FOSS becomes politicized and FOSS projects find their way into people’s everyday digital lives.
This is different from education. because it is an object of relationality—part of a process of exchanges. They learn to hold themselves. a discretionary moment. temporality becomes an essential component and is typified by habit and lived experience. pragmatically. The primary distinction of FOSS from proprietary software. In this way the impetus for FOSS project gifting begins in an undecidable moment. Lefebvre writes: To enter into a society. as in gift economies. Dressage can go a long way: as far as breathing. But in charting the relationship between FOSS software and everyday life. to learn a trade by following the right channels. Which means to say: dressage. What this may mean for a vision of the "GPL society" is not necessarily a society in which the GNU General Public License or some derivative of it governs all spheres of life explicitly. But the circumstances are never exactly and absolutely the same. sex.164 level of lived experience. quoted earlier. The programmable is repetitive by nature. governs the everyday organization of time." This transformation need not take the form of a "plan" or licensing. "Dressage puts into place an automatism of repetitions. etc. the everyday context in which other systems (capitalism. obscures the relationship between cause and effect and therefore depends for its grounding and orientation on social demarcation. the everyday orientation to generosity. but also to bend oneself (to be bent) to its ways. and need not be attached to corporate visions and capitalist cycles. though this has been tried with initiatives such as the Creative Commons project. in a sense. is that the FOSS project can emerge at any time. extra-political."97 Conclusion The negotiation of incommensurate concepts in the act of gifting—shall I give/receive/sell/buy this gift/commodity as present/poison?—is entirely situational and grounded in the habitual. but a society in which the dressage we now associate with FOSS.96 The concept is very similar to Bourdieu's habitus. It is something that becomes embodied and. group or nationality is to accept values (that are taught). How the programmer approaches the gift of FOSS cannot be prescribed analytically: It must be conceived actively. To reiterate Bourdieu's thoughts. of course. for any reason. Michael Truscello . movements.) may continue to function but may be perceived as incongruent with the new popular disposition. The gift. that of the transversal gift. It bases itself on repetition. identical. the objective is "to create universes in which. Humans break themselves in [se dressent] like animals. people have an interest in disinterestedness and generosity. but how it conforms to the rhythms of its context is another matter. democracy. As Lefebvre says. experientially. but related.
By actively engaging software production at the level of everyday life and its rhythms and social heterogeneity. sometimes taking. His publications have appeared in journals such as Postmodern Culture. The FOSS project and its affiliated ideas must be seen within this context of a social war of attrition in which the first casualty is the ability of human beings to trust each other. More specifically. Activists and theorists must turn their attention to the "how and why" of the FOSS gift. FOSS gifting must ground itself in an undecidable situation composed of gifts or commodities. if the transversal gift of time becomes embedded in the social habitus. as Richard Day writes alluding to the work of Simon Critchley and Diane Elam. a publicly constituted moment more open to the radical imagination than the moments occurring in grey cubicles. so powerful is the spectacle that commits bodies to its miserable consensus. and the collapse will not be lamented by the victims of capitalism. Mass forms of cooperation and communalism have existed and thrived in the past. Technical Communication Quarterly. Radical possibilities may emerge. so persistent has been their suffering. and they may do so again. he is writing a book about technology in the anarchist tradition. He is also developing a 1 The Disruptive Time of the Gift ." if a general ethic of generosity is to take hold in the political imagination of capitalist societies. and TEXT Technology. "These subtle currents of affinity and disaffinity point to the need for an ethic of infinite responsibility that pushes the basis for groundless solidarity to ever-greater levels of complexity and commitment."100 Endnotes Michael Truscello is an assistant professor in the departments of English and General Education at Mount Royal University in Calgary. "A culture or society deprived of all acts of gratitude will inevitably break down. gifting matters to the current moment because our world has been subjected to decades of aggressive neoliberal economics and the cult of selfishness with which such an economic model is imbued. As social scientist Aafke E. Alberta. sometimes giving.98 In the broadest sense. Canada. The collapse will not be evident to most who live within the hegemonic boundaries of capitalism. depending on circumstances. given that the primary sponsors of it are middle class programmers who often risk only their time. The collapse is most visible in the externalities of capitalist wealth creation: the ongoing environmental collapse is the most general indicator."99 Capitalist societies are breaking down. presents or poison. whether by desire or by necessity. however. Currently. FOSS gifting is among the easiest and more replicable forms of gifting. It is this "dangerous phenomenon" that makes radical imagining in the technological society both possible and necessary. Komter notes. beyond the antiseptic dichotomy of "proprietary versus non-proprietary software.165 of intersubjectivity.
Mass. (p.. Chopra and Dexter.. Matthew (2003) Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software.xviii. CA: University of California Press (p.xvi. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (p. Winner. p. Lawrence (1999) Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. 4 Winner.67.. 5 Ibid. New York: Autonomedia. Felix (2001) The Three Ecologies.81. Michael Truscello . Chopra and Dexter.24). Langdon (1978) Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought. New York: Routledge. Steven (2004) The Success of Open Source. p.69). 13 Fuller. and Scott D. 24 Ibid. p. 8 Khasnabish. (p. (pp. 16 Lessig. 22 Ibid. p. which improved significantly the original draft of this article.8).33.. p.. p.. Chopra and Dexter. Jacques (1967) The Technological Society. 6 Ibid. p.xvi). New York: Vintage Books. 14 Weber. Alex (2008) Zapatismo Beyond Borders: New Imaginations of Political Possibility. 15 Ibid.7.vii. Weber. NJ: Athlone Press. p. p. p.. MA: MIT Press (p. Chopra and Dexter. 27 Ibid.capitalismisthecrisis. New York: Basic Books. 10 Quoted in Scott. Chopra and Dexter.89. John Wilkinson. 11 Ellul. 18 Ibid.62. See also Author (2003).. Christopher M. 25 Ibid. 28 Kelly. 7 Ibid. 12 Guattari..7-8). Empire. Chopra and Dexter.. and the Future of America. Winner.. p. 17 Chopra. p. p. Dexter (2008) Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software. Trans. (p.: Harvard UP.84. pp. 23 Ibid. Chopra and Dexter. Khasnabish. Cambridge. Chopra and Dexter. 19 Ibid.com/watch?v=v5q31ICQuFo 3 I extend an enormous amount of gratitude to Max Haiven for his astute and prolific editorial comments.243).net). (2008) Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Kelly. Winner. NC: Duke University Press. Berkeley. Samir. Chopra and Dexter.172.youtube. 26 Ibid... p.. 20 Ibid. Peter Dale (2007) The Road to 9/11: Wealth.100).. 29 Ibid.88). p. 2 http://www.173.34-35. (p. Cambridge. 21 Ibid. Durham. Trans. New Brunswick.28.166 documentary film called Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity (www. Chopra and Dexter. 9 Ibid. Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton. (p.3).170..8.
49 Ibid. Hardt and Negri..72. p. p. 44 Ibid.. New York: Routledge. p. Elden and G. Yunxiang (2002) "Unbalanced reciprocity: Asymmetrical gift giving and social hierarchy in rural China. p. Kelly. 50 Hardt. p.30. 39 Ibid.. CA: University of California Press.. Time and Everyday Life. pp.308. p. 55 Cixous.25.9. 47 Ibid. Ibid. Soderberg. Kelly.." in The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines.301-302. Soderberg. trans. S.68). p. Soderberg.4. Soderberg. The gendering of FOSS communities. New York: Penguin Press. 38 Ibid. 54 Strathern. p.. 52 Ibid. p. (p. Berkeley. and computer science more generally. Soderberg. (p. 34 Soderberg.142. Certeau. Henri (2004) Rhythmanalysis: Space. italics in original).30). 48 De Certeau. p. 41 Ibid. New York: Routledge.. p.. not only because of the overwhelmingly male constituency. p. p. 43 Ibid.. London: Continuum. Michel (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. 46 Ibid. Soderberg.167 Ibid.18. 32 Ibid. 45 Ibid. Hardt and Negri.159).44. Mark Osteen.307.3.336). Hélène (1997) "Sorties: Out and Out: Attacks/Ways Out/Forays. 56 Lefebvre. pp.115.. deserves further study. Johan (2008) Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement. p.2). and Antonio Negri (2004) Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. 36 Ibid.. 51 Ibid.. New York: Routledge. p.. 33 Ibid.. 53 Yan. 37 Ibid.. (p." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity. (p... Soderberg. Soderberg. (p. 35 Ibid. Moore. p. Marilyn (1988) The Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia.306. 40 Ibid. Berkeley.339-340.25. (p.xi)... 42 Ibid. Soderberg. but also because of the many ways in which computational devices are integral to the co-constitution of gendered subjectivity.48. Soderberg.49. CA: University of California Press. ed. (p. p.. 30 31 The Disruptive Time of the Gift . Soderberg.77. Kelly. Kelly. Soderberg. p.142 (italics in original). ed.27. Soderberg. Alan Schrift. Michael.
I would say that any number of advances in medical and assistive technologies make the everyday "more alive" for a great number of people. Mark Osteen. italics in original). p. Raymond." p.168 My presumption that technology can somehow become more rhythmically in tune with everyday life is in direct contradiction with Lefebvre's presumption that "Technologies kill immediacy (unless the speed of cars. p. 58 Amariglio. "Marginalia. say. and he does not acknowledge the ways in which technology makes new forms of immediacy possible. capital. p. p.. John (2002) "Give the ghost a chance! A comrade's shadowy addendum. CA: O'Reilly and Associates.109). 59 Osteen. ed. or.. Slavoj. or the facets of computermediated communication)." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity. Raymond.. Raymond. (2001) The Cathedral & the Bazaar. Pierre (1997) "Marginalia—Some Additional Notes on the Gift. A. (pp." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines. (pp. W. p. 65 Ibid. Schrift. by essentialising technology as inherently a carrier of ideology. Eric S.26).41 (italics in original). A. 73 Ibid. Mark (2002) "Introduction: Questions of the Gift. ed. 66 Ibid. 72 Bourdieu. a pacemaker). (p. Derrida.. paradoxically.. Raymond. mediated (such as the telephone." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines. (pp.231 (italics in original). The impact of technological conquests does not make the everyday any more alive.107.80. New York: Routledge.85.35-36).271). 71 Ibid. Mark Osteen. 68 Derrida. pp. New York: Verso. New York: Routledge. Halls. (p. p.. 63 Ibid.249-250. but that isn't saying much).81 (italics in original). 62 Ibid. 69 Ibid. Bourdieu. (2008) In Defense of Lost Causes. Lefebvre ignores the many ways in which technology produces or mimics the natural (in the form of bioinformatics. (p. 61 Raymond. Counterfeit Money. New York: Routledge. it nourishes ideology" (Rhythmanalysis 53.6-7). Sebastapol. and alienation. Raymond. New York: Routledge.. though. More generally. italics in original). (2002) "The ghost of the gift: The unlikelihood of economics. 67 Mauss. 60 Žižek. Trans. ed. planes or automatic cameras pass for a return to the immediate. (p. 57 Michael Truscello . Derrida. New York: Routledge. 70 Callari. (p. Jacques (1992) Given Time: 1." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines.9. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Mark Osteen.D.13). Marcel (1990) The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies.240). 64 Ibid. even if they are forms of immediacy that are. ed.80-81..
New York: Routledge." Anthropological Quarterly 77. p. Hurley.. 91 Ibid." p." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity. italics in original). Bourdieu." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines. Bataille.224. 98 Curl. Bataille. Schrift. Bourdieu.201. Judt. Osteen. 1: Consumption....3 (p. p.. ed. Bourdieu. "Selections. R.198.196. p. p. Cooperative Movements.com/2100-3513_22-961903. Lefebvre.233 (italics in original). Riccuiti (2002) "Open Source Closes in on Microsoft. Osteen. Pierre (1997) "Selections from The Logic of Practice. 96 Ibid..6-7. (p. p. M. and Communalism in America. "Selections. J.198. Weber. Available online: http://news. Mark (2002) "Gift or commodity?" The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines.." p.. 84 Ibid. 74 The Disruptive Time of the Gift . 89 Ibid. 87 Stockl. "Selections. 75 Ibid. ed. Trans. 76 Ibid. "Selections. Lefebvre." p..40 (italics in original).245. 97 Ibid." p.169 Bourdieu..39.html. 94 Ibid. Gift Giving. (p. "Marginalia. and M. Stockl. 81 Ibid." ZDNet 14 October 2002. New York: Palgrave. M. 92 Ibid. (p. Tony (2001) "Introduction. Antonio (2002) "The ghost of the gift: The unlikelihood of economics. 88 Ibid. p. 82 Ibid. John (2009) For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation. ed..33. New York: Routledge. p.. 95 Wilcox.. New York: Zone Books. Georges (1988) The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy.. ed. A.. 83 Callari. p. 80 Coleman.6).. (p. pp. Oakland. 85 Bataille." p. Schain. Bourdieu. Gabriella (2004) "The Political Agnosticism of Free and Open Source Software and the Inadvertent Politics of Contrast. 90 Ibid.511.27." p. (p.240). and the Cold War.251).23. Weber.173.zdnet. 77 Ibid. A. Osteen. (p. italics in original). CA: PM Press. 86 Osteen. Vol. Bourdieu. p. Gilbert. 78 Ibid. 93 Judt.258. Schrift.1. italics in original).187 (italics in original).192).. New York: Routledge. New York: Routledge." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity." The Marshall Plan: Fifty Years After. Bourdieu. 79 Ibid.197. A. ed. "Selections. Downloaded: 15 October 2002. Allan (1997) "Bataille. Mark Osteen.
(1997). Aafke E. (2004). ed. 266-279. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pierre. Gabriella. London: Pluto Press. Samir. (2008). (p." Anthropological Quarterly 77. (2005) Social Solidarity and the Gift. (p.F. (2005) Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements. Derrida. Schrift. (1984). ed. (2002). and Communalism in America. John. Trans.170 Komter. The Practice of Everyday Life. ed. "The Political Agnosticism of Free and Open Source Software and the Inadvertent Politics of Contrast. Hurley.F. Andrew. New York: Zone Books. Day. Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software. 231-244. New York: Routledge. Antonio. and Dexter. 190-230. Bataille. Callari. De Certeau. For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity. (2009). New York: Routledge. Given Time: 1. Hélène. Bourdieu. Mark Osteen. Jacques. "The ghost of the gift: The unlikelihood of economics. 99 References Amariglio. Cixous. Mark Osteen. The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines. 507-519. "Selections from The Logic of Practice. Pierre. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chopra. "Sorties: Out and Out: Attacks/Ways Out/Forays. CA: University of California Press. London: Pluto Press. New York: Routledge. (1988). (2005). (2002). 248-265. (1992). Berkeley. "Marginalia—Some Additional Notes on the Gift. Bourdieu. 148-173. (1997). A. Counterfeit Money. ed. "The pleasures and pains of the gift. Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements. Coleman. (1997). 280298. Curl. Scott D." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity. Georges. CA: PM Press. Alan Schrift. Michael Truscello . Schrift. New York: Routledge. 100 Day.8). New York: Routledge. Cooperative Movements. Oakland. (2002). John. R. A.199). Vol. Michel. Richard J. New York: Routledge. Mark Osteen. 1: Consumption. New York: Routledge." The Logic of the Gift: Toward an Ethic of Generosity. Cowell." The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines. ed. "Give the ghost a chance! A comrade's shadowy addendum. ed.3. Richard J.
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Volume 4. 141-172.html. (2008). Winner. (2002). Yunxiang. In Defense of Lost Causes. Fall 2010. Culture. New York: Verso. Mark Osteen. ed. Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought. "Unbalanced reciprocity: Asymmetrical gift giving and social hierarchy in rural China. pp. Number 2. Zizek." in The Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines.172 http://news. Slavoj. Langdon. and Action. New York: Routledge. Cambridge. 67-84. MA: MIT Press.zdnet. (1978).com/2100-3513_22-961903. ―The Disruptive Time of the Gift: (Radical) Imagination at Work in Free and Open Source Software.‖ Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory. Michael Truscello . Yan. Michael Truscello. Downloaded: 15 October 2002.