Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Return of the Concavity

Hey everybody. I'm going to try to revive my blog after a long hiatus. I'm also going to try to refocus what I'm writing here, away from random personal and political stuff (Facebook and Twitter will keep anyone who wants to be up to date on my personal and political rants) and toward a crtical examination of what's called been called Free Culture, Peer-to-Peer culture, or Peer Production. Basically, all of these terms refer to the mode of producing culture that we find on Wikipedia, in which many loosely organized collaborators work together to produce a larger text without a strictly hierarchical organization.

I think it is also important to explain what I mean when I say I intend to take a "critical" take on this method of production on this blog. I do not come here to bury Wikipedia (or YouTube, or Hacker spaces, or what have you). These are some of my favorite things. I think that these projects, and the people involved with them, are often animated by a tremendous idealism, and a wonderful sense that they are working together to build a better future for all of humanity.

I think that idealism is real, in fact I'm banking on it. What I'd like to do here is to argue that some of the cultural assumptions Peer Production brings with it from capitalism may serve to undercut the very idealistic goals that its practitioners embrace. My hope is that their genuine commitment to a better, fairer, human future will motivate them to move away from these assumptions and towards a new vision for Peer Production based on a broader understanding of human equality and shared responsibility.

A tall order for a blog, I know, but I might as well try. At the very least, I'm hoping writing these vignettes on a regular basis will keep me current on the bleeding edge of the discourse about peer production as I slog through the backlog of Wikipedia data that is my dissertation.