> context weblog december 2002
sampling new cultural context
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thursday :: december 19, 2002
commons-based peer production
:: in the digitally networked environment

For decades our common understanding of the organization of economic production has been that individuals order their productive activities in one of two ways: either as employees in firms, following the directions of managers, or as individuals in markets, following price signals. In this paper Yochai Benkler explain why we are beginning to see the emergence of a new, third mode of production, in the digitally networked environment, a mode he calls commons-based peer production. In the past three or four years, public attention has focused on a fifteen-year old social-economic phenomenon in the software development world. This phenomenon, called free software or open source software, involves thousands or even tens of thousands of programmers contributing to large and small scale projects, where the central organizing principle is that the software remains free of most constraints on copying and use common to proprietary materials. No one “owns” the software in the traditional sense of being able to command how it is used or developed, or to control its disposition. The result has been the emergence of a vibrant, innovative and productive collaboration, whose participants are not organized in firms and do not choose their projects in response to price signals. This paper explains that while free software is highly visible, it is in fact only one example of a much broader social-economic phenomenon. Benkler suggest that we are seeing the broad and deep emergence of a new, third mode of production in the digitally networked environment. He calls this mode “commons-based peer production,” to distinguish it from the property- and contract-based modes of firms and markets. Its central characteristic is that groups of individuals successfully collaborate on largescale projects following a diverse cluster of motivational drives and social signals, rather than either market prices or managerial commands.

Benkler explain why this mode has systematic advantages over markets and managerial hierarchies when the object of production is information or culture, and where the physical capital necessary for that production— computers and communications capabilities—is widely distributed instead of concentrated. In particular, this mode of production is better than firms and markets for two reasons. First, it is better at identifying and assigning human capital to information and cultural production processes. In this regard, peer production has an advantage in what Benkler call “information opportunity cost.” That is, it loses less information about who the best person for a given job might be than either of the other two organizational modes. Second, there are substantial increasing returns, in terms of allocation efficiency, to allowing larger clusters of potential contributors to interact with large clusters of information resources in search of new projects and opportunities for collaboration. Removing property and contract as the organizing principles of collaboration substantially reduces transaction costs involved in allowing these large clusters of potential contributors to review and select which resources to work on, for which projects, and with which collaborators. This results in the potential for substantial allocation gains. The article concludes with an overview of how these models use a variety of technological and social strategies to overcome the collective action problems usually solved in managerial and market-based systems by property, contract, and managerial commands. >abstract from *Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and The Nature of the Firm* by Yochai Benkler, august 2002

related context
oekonux: from free software to free society? october 28, 2002
> open_source_art_hack. april 30, 2002
> science commons: building a free flow of knowledge. march 15, 2002

> coral res publica
wednesday :: december 18, 2002
> [ cut + paste ]: spectrum
open spectrum
:: spectrum as a commons

Almost everything you think you know about spectrum is wrong.

For nearly a century, radio frequency spectrum has been treated as a scarce resource that the government must parcel out through exclusive licenses. Spectrum licensing brought us radio, television, cellular telephones and vital public safety services. Along the way, the licensing model became an unquestioned paradigm, pervading our views. We simply can’t imagine doing anything else.

The assumptions underlying the dominant paradigm for spectrum management no longer hold. Today’s digital technologies are smart enough to distinguish between signals, allowing users to share the airwaves without exclusive licensing. Instead of treating spectrum as a scarce physical resource, we could make it available to all as a commons, an approach known as “open spectrum.” Open spectrum would allow for more efficient and creative use of the precious resource of the airwaves. It could enable innovative services, reduce prices, foster competition, create new business opportunities, and bring our communications policies in line with our democratic ideals.

Despite its radical implications, open spectrum can coexist with traditional exclusive licensing. There are two mechanisms to facilitate spectrum sharing: unlicensed parks and underlay. The first involves familiar allocated frequency bands, but with no user given the exclusive right to transmit. A very limited set of frequencies have already been designated for unlicensed consumer devices, such as cordless phones and wireless local area networks, but more is needed. The second approach allows unlicensed users to coexist in licensed bands, by making their signals invisible and non-intrusive to other users. Both open spectrum approaches have great value, with the specifics depending on how technology and markets develop. Both should be encouraged. The risks are minimal, while the potential benefits are extraordinary.

If the US Government wants to put in place the most pro-innovation, pro- investment, deregulatory, and democratic spectrum policy regime, it should do everything possible to promote open spectrum. >from *Open Spectrum: The New Wireless Paradigm* By Kevin Werbach, october 2002.

related context
Radio Free Software By Sam Williams. Salon, december 18, 2002
> FCC Backs Open Spectrum? november 1, 2002
> smart mobs: new uses of mobile media. october 3, 2002
> (re)distributions: a culture of ubiquity. july 15, 2002
> streamer: pirate radio for the digital age. july 4, 2002
> gnu radio: software defined radio. june 27, 2002

tuesday :: december 17, 2002
copyright licenses free of charge
:: released by creative commons

Creative Commons promotes the innovative reuse of all sorts of intellectual works. Our first project is to offer the public a set of copyright licenses free of charge.

These licenses will help you tell others that your works are free for copying and other uses -- but only on certain conditions. You're probably familiar with the phrase, "All rights reserved," and the little (c) that goes along with it. Creative Commons wants to help copyright holders send a different message: "Some rights reserved."

For example, if you don't mind people copying and distributing your online image so long as they give you credit, we'll have a license that helps you say so. If you want people to copy your band's MP3 but don't want them to profit off it without your permission, use one of our licenses to express that preference. Our licensing tools will even help you mix and match such preferences from a menu of options:

- Attribution. Permit others to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and derivative works based upon it only if they give you credit.

- Noncommercial. Permit others to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and derivative works based upon it only for noncommercial purposes.

- No Derivative Works. Permit others to copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based upon it.

- Share Alike. Permit others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

When you've made your choices, you'll get the appropriate license expressed in three ways:

1. Commons Deed. A simple, plain-language summary of the license, complete with the relevant icons.

2. Legal Code. The nitty-gritty, specific legal details that pertain to your commons deed; the technical version of our deeds that represent your works legally.

3. Digital Code. A machine-readable translation of the license that helps search engines and other applications identify your work by its terms of use.

If you prefer to dedicate your work to the public domain, where nothing is owned and all is permitted, we'll help you do that, too. In other words, we'll help you declare, "No rights reserved." >from *Creative Commons Celebrates Release of Machine-Readable Licenses*, december 16, 2002

related context
hessla: hacktivismo enhanced-source software license agreement. december 5, 2002
> opus: digital commons in culture. july 17, 2002
> creative commons: law and technology. may 24, 2002

> no charge!
monday :: december 16, 2002
> mental architectures
second skin
:: emergent architecture

*Marcos Lutyens* (intermedia artist/certified hypnotherapist)and Tania Lopez Winkler (architect) presented their project Second Skin at *ArtSci2002*.

Second Skin uses hypnosis and genetic algorithms to extract and process embedded mental information to build a new approach to architecture. The field of study relating to Bose-Einstein condensates, and the influence of quantum issues on the understanding of consciousness are particularly pertinent to this exploration of 'mass mind'. Volunteers listen to a hypnotic induction which extracts conceptions of 'dwelling' from the unconscious. The volunteers are instructed to render their visualizations in a state of trance. Each volunteer is subsequently interviewed in order to extract additional information. The resulting models are inputted into their patented genetic algorithm program. These models provide with traits from which they are developing their grammar of emergent architecture. These computer models are being applied to the creation of full-scale models for itinerant shows.

Previously, *Skinn* exhibition at Materials & Applications showcased two related projects that have been in development for the past year. The projects center on a unique investigation into consciousness, and the structures that emerge naturally from the mind. These two projects, Second Skin, which relates to architecture and CorteX which involves clothing design, form part of a much larger investigation into the "form consequence" of thought and of other mental processes. In other words, this line of investigation seeks to generate a direct connection between the moment a thought is generated, or rather emerges from a background of consciousness, and its manifestation as a thought-object.

*M&A* (Materials & Applications) is an experimental architecture and landscape research center with a unique outdoor exhibit space that is designed to be visible from the street. Twice yearly, the site host new outdoor developments of transarchitectural installations. Use of sustainable resources, renewable energy and smart technologies are encouraged. The goal is to push the application of materials beyond what typical commercial and residential project limits allow towards a more liquid architecture.

related context
Architecture and the Mind. October 2002
> Neuroscience unlocks secrets of Zen garden. september 26, 2002

thursday :: december 12, 2002
:: information wants to be free

On December 9th-15th, zelig.rc2, a week of workshops, demonstrations, encounters, debates, on networks, communication, free software and electronic resistance. A week during which people will talk about technics, politics, desires, creations, movements... After the European meeting of December 2000 (zeligConf), and the hexagonal meeting of February 2001 (no-zelig), we again want to open a temporary communication laboratory, a space- time of knowledge and skills, an autonomous zone where could converge and combine cultures of hack and activism, practises of counter-information and productive spirit of free software, creativity of social movements and networks community.

So, this time again we want to bet on mixing experiences, on hybridation of identities, on transversality of thoughts and practises. We want to bet on productive cooperation between multiple realities of contest and social innovation acting up in the folds of Reality. zelig.rc2 will articulate auround several themes (Electronic resistance, Cyberfeminism is an attitude, Alternative communication).

In the stitches of this thematic net, will also be open several works. Specifically : free software for kids and education, ressources for associative networks (firewall, inner democracy), wireless communication (WiFi), electronic contest software (Reamweaver), etc.

At last, zelig.rc2 will be the occasion to present certain initiatives and projects : no-log (non-logged connection services), l'Autre net (alternative provider), AlternC (software kit for websites hosting), Plug'n'Politix (political initiative), Glasnost (Intranet fot associations), Libre entreprise, Fédération informatique et liberté, hacklabs (Italy, Spain)...

With this melting pot of good reasons to meet and meet again, we intend to call back this good old hacker principle : Information wants to be free. It must not, as an impotent injunction, it wants, as the political stake is our freedom to move, think, code, talk, love, create, innovate. Information wants to break free, because it cannot be submitted to commercial diktats nor police injunctions. >from *zelig.rc2 - Information wants to be free*, Paris, october 14, 2002. via griselda

related context
the hacktivismo declaration: assertions of liberty in support of an uncensored internet. july 18, 2002

> share the spirit of a chamaleon
wednesday :: december 11, 2002
> fractal behaviour in malaria cells?
fractal behavior
:: in plastic magnets

When it comes to miniature electronics, scientists have seen the shape of things to come -- and that shape is a fractal. People most often see fractals in the familiar, irregular branching shapes of nature -- a leaf, or tree, or snowflake. A repeating pattern of ever-smaller branches gives these structures a unique profile that defies classical geometry.

Now a study suggests that magnetic fields can take the form of fractals, too -- if a magnet is made of plastic molecules that are stacked in parallel chains. While the results could influence the design of electronic devices in the distant future, the work is so new that scientists are only beginning to consider its implications. Using a computer model, the scientists tried to look ahead to a time when electronic structures can be built so small that they no longer behave like normal three-dimensional objects.

“The materials currently used in magnetic devices -- for example, computer hard discs or ID strips on credit cards -- behave like three-dimensional magnets,” explained Arthur Epstein, from the Center for Materials Research at Ohio State University. “However, the decreasing size of these devices may one day require them to be considered one- or two-dimensional in nature. As the spatial dimensions decrease, the magnetic dimensions of the materials may take on fractal values.” Mathematically, fractals are considered to exist in partial, or fractional, dimensions. That means if a device produced a magnetic field that exhibits fractal behavior, the magnetic field wouldn’t possess dimension equal to a whole number -- such as one, two, or three dimensions -- but rather a fractional value such as 0.8 or 1.6 dimensions. Such a seemingly bizarre existence in fractional dimensions sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but that’s what Epstein and his colleagues found when they modeled the behavior of a plastic magnet. >from *Fractals Add New Dimension To Study Of Tiny Electronics*, december 2, 2002.

related context
plastic spintronics: from silicon to plastic based computers. october 1, 2002
> fractals to predict natural hazards: understanding the patterns of chaos. february 6, 2002
> Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot IBM Fellow. Father of fractals

tuesday :: december 10, 2002
neurophysiology of sympathy
:: patterns of brain activity

Neuroscientists trying to tease out the mechanisms underlying the basis of human sympathy have found that such feelings trigger brain activity not only in areas associated with emotion but also in areas associated with performing an action. But, when people act in socially inappropriate ways this activity is replaced by increased activity in regions associated with social conflict.

Understanding the neurophysiology of such basic human characteristics as sympathy is important because some people lack those feelings and may behave in anti-social ways that can be extremely costly to society, said Dr. Jean Decety, the lead author of the new study. In the study, Decety and Thierry Chaminade used positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

"Sympathy is a very basic way in which we are connected to other people," said Decety. "We feel more sympathy if the person we are interacting with is more like us. When people act in strange ways, you feel that person is not like you." >from "Search for sympathy uncovers patterns of brain activity*, december 2, 2002.

related context
human cooperation: biological basis revealed. july 19, 2002
> brain's pattern perception in artificial world: rise to maladaptive superstitions. april 10, 2002
> beauty perception and desire: philosophy and neuroscience. november 16, 2001
> research on emotion. april 24, 2001
> technology and evolution: what makes us humans. march 13, 2001

> sympathy for a friend
monday :: december 9, 2002
> albert was here
:: new dimensions in collaboration

How are artists and scientists exploring Einstein's legacy, not as individuals, but through art-sci collaborative projects? In 1998, Art & Science Collaborations, Inc. (ASCI), took a leap of faith that artists and scientists were ready to come together in a public symposium to present their projects, share their thoughts on collaboration and dispel misconceptions about the 'two cultures' of C.P. Snow. By ArtSci2001, new collaborative models had evolved and we found scientists presenting alongside their artist partners. This emergent cultural paradigm that is developing around the world, has raised new questions on issues surrounding artscience practice.

In this 4th international art-sci symposium, organized by ASCI, we continue to build a visible context for the nascent field of artscience practice by publicly sharing and documenting exemplary models of art-sci collaborations while providing a valuable information hub, collaborative tools, and an open forum for dialogue about current artscience practice and interdisciplinary collaboration in general.

This year, nine prominent collaborating institutions working in the field of artscience practice have helped produce the event as a future model for self-sustainability:
*Arts Council of England [Collaborative Arts Unit]*
*Arts Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY*
*Australian Network for Art & Technology [ANAT]*
*Banff New Media Institute (BNMI), Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada*
*Design | Media Arts at UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture*
*Leonardo/ISAST (International Society for Art, Science, & Technology)*
*Radical Project/The SMARTlab Centre, The London Institute*
*School of Art & Design, University of Michigan*
*Science and the Arts Program, CUNY Graduate Center*
>from *ArtSci2002 site*, december 6, 2002.

related context
aesthetic computing: exploration of artistic methods and processes. february 15, 2002
> information arts: intersections of art, science, and technology. january 15, 2002
> Artists and Scientists in Times of War by Roger Malina. september 23, 2001
> lawsuit against "leonardo": where art, science and technology converge. november 20, 2000

thursday :: december 5, 2002
:: hacktivismo enhanced-source software license agreement

Software that Hacktivismo releases under this License Agreement is intended to promote our political objectives. And, likewise, the purpose of this License Agreement itself is political: Namely, to compliment the software's intended political function. Hacktivismo itself exists to develop and deploy computer software technologies that promote fundamental human rights of end-users. Hacktivismo also seeks to enlist the active participation and involvement of people around the world, to help us improve these software tools, and to take other actions (including actions that involve using and distributing our software, and the advancement of similarly-minded software projects of others) that promote human rights and freedom worldwide.

Because of our non-commercial objective of promoting end-users' freedoms, Hacktivismo has some special, and admittedly ambitious, licensing needs. This License Agreement enhances the benefits of published source code by backing up our human rights projects with appropriate remedies enforceable in court.

The Freedoms We Promote: When we speak of the freedom of end-users, we are talking about basic freedoms recognized in the Hacktivismo Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other documents that recognize and promote freedom and human dignity. Principal among these freedoms are: Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Collective Action and Association, Freedoms of Thought, Conscience, Sexuality, and Religion, Freedom of Privacy.

Developing a new software license is never a trivial task and this License Agreement has presented special challenges for Hacktivismo. Because of our human rights objectives, this License Agreement includes some specific terms and conditions that, as a technical matter, depart from the previously-recognized and established definitions of "free" software and "open source" software. We have therefore coined the term "enhanced source" to describe this License Agreement because we have sought to combine most of the freedom-promoting benefits of "free" or "open-source" software (including mandatory disclosure of any changes or modifications Licensees make to the source code, whenever they release modified versions of HESSLA-licensed Programs or other Derivative Works), with additional enhanced license and contractual terms that are intended to promote the freedom of end-users. The Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source Software License Agreement promotes our objectives in an enhanced manner by including contractual terms that empower both Hacktivismo and qualified end-users with greater flexibility and leverage to maintain and recover human rights, through the mechanism of the contract itself including terms that are designed to enhance both our enforcement posture and that of qualified end- users in court.

To be sure, Hacktivismo enthusiastically endorses and supports the goals and objectives of the Free Software movement and those of the open source community. In particular, we owe a special debt of gratitude to the Free Software Foundation, to the Open Source Initiative, and to many exceedingly talented people who have contributed to Free Software and open source projects and endeavors over the years. From "The Hacktivismo Enhanced- Source Software License Agreement Version 0.1", november 25, 2002.

related context
the hacktivismo declaration: assertions of liberty in support of an uncensored internet. july 18, 2002
> free as in freedom: the life story of richard stallman. june 25, 2002
> fsf award to guido van rossum: award for the advancement of free software. february 27, 2002
> copy.cult and the original si(g)n. september, 2000

> license enhanced mechanism
wednesday :: december 4, 2002
> Inanna: godddess of trans-formative relationships
eye gaze
:: implications for new-age technology

Noting that the eyes have long been described as mirrors of the soul, a Queen's University computer scientist is studying the effect of eye gaze on conversation and the implications for new-age technologies, ranging from video conferencing to speech recognition systems.

Dr. Roel Vertegaal, has found evidence to suggest a strong link between the amount of eye contact people receive and their degree of participation in group communications. Eye contact is known to increase the number of turns a person will take when part of a group conversation. The goal of this study was to determine what type of 'gaze' (looking at a person’s eyes and face) is required to have this effect.

The findings have important implications for the design of future communication devices, including more user-friendly and sensitive video conferencing systems – a technology increasingly chosen in business for economic and time-saving reasons – and Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) which support communication between people and machines.

"Sumerian clay tablets dating back to 3000 BC already tell the story of Ereshkigal, goddess of the underworld, who had the power to kill Inanna, goddess of love, with a deadly eye," says Dr. Vertegaal. "Now that we are attempting to build more sophisticated conversational interfaces that mirror the communicative capabilities of their users, it has become clear we need to learn more about communicative functions of gaze behaviours." >from "Eye contact findings may change new-age technology", november 20, 2002.

related context
eye tracking research & applications symposium 2002. march, 2002

tuesday :: december 3, 2002
first look at the world
:: making sense of the unknown

Baby's first look at the world is likely a dizzying array of shapes and motion that are meaningless to a newborn, but researchers at the University of Rochester have now shown that babies use relationships between objects to build an understanding of the world. By noting how often objects appear together, infants can efficiently take in more knowledge than if they were to simply see the same shapes individually.

"It's long been assumed that we use relationships among parts of scenes to learn which parts form whole objects, but the idea has never been tested, nor was it clear how early this ability develops," says József Fiser, co- author with Richard N. Aslin of the research. "This research shows that building a concept of the world by recognizing relationships among shapes in images is possibly innate, and a very essential ability in babies."

"In order to make sense of the unknown you must be able to learn new things and represent them to yourself in an efficient way," says József Fiser, co- author with Richard N. Aslin of the research. "You don't want a mechanism that will tell you that leaves are always found on cars just because you happened to see a leaf on a car once. You want a mechanism that will tell you that cars can exist without leaves and vice versa, while at the same time telling you that cars always come with wheels, for instance." If a baby sees a leaf on a car, she would build a relationship between the two, perhaps calling the combination a "leafcar." But she might then see several cars without leaves on them and so the concept of leafcar is weakened as she unconsciously realizes that statistically, the concept of leafcar is more and more useless. Noting that every car she sees has wheels, however, becomes statistically more and more useful as it is reinforced with every new car she sees. This relationship-identification is important because the baby can build her knowledge base on it. When she sees a wheelbarrow, she'll unconsciously note that while all cars have wheels, not all wheels have cars, and a new concept of wheels will begin to emerge. In this way, the frequency of relationships, and the predictability between visual objects allows her to build knowledge on knowledge in a hierarchical manner. >from *Infants build knowledge of their visual world on statistics*, november 25, 2002.

> a look, a fossilized leave and two cars
monday :: december 2, 2002
> flow impressions
space of flows
:: characteristics and strategies

Felix Stalder, from Openflows, gave a talk at the last Doors of Perception conference to query the status of the object within the space of flows and speculate about some ramifications for designing within this new environment: What is the space of flows in general? How is it different from the space of places? And, how do we deal with these differences?

The conference flyer already introduced us to the famous idea of Heraclitus: every thing flows. What he was referring to is a general condition of nature. Everything is in a constant process of transformation. The concept of the space of flows is different from this. It refers to a specific historic condition which has become predominant only quite recently, arguably in the mid 1970s. The space of flows ­ to give a general definition ­ is that stage of human action whose dimensions are created by dynamic movement, rather than by static location. The operative words here are movement and human action.

The space of today's information flows consists of three elements: the medium ­ digital communication technology, the flows ­ information, and the nodes hybrids ­ of people and machinery.

The differences between the space of flows and space, as we know it, it's made up of movement that brings distant elements ­ things and people ­ into an interrelationship that is characterized today by being continuous and in real time. Historically speaking, this is new. There have always been cultures that were built across large distances. But now, their interaction is in real time.

Function, value and meaning in the space of flows are relational and not absolute. Whether a node works or not, then, is not determined within the node, but emerges from the network of which the node is only a part. As the network changes, as old connection die and new ones are established, as the flows are reorganized through other nodes, meaning, functionality, values changes too.

If we take it seriously that things ­ and people ­ are less defined by their intrinsic qualities but more by their relational position to one another, then the unit of analysis ­ and action ­ can no longer be the single element, an individual person, a product or a company. We have to shift our attention away from the "within" on to the "in-between”. Rather than asking what is made out of, we have to ask, what does it interface to?

In a similar shift of focus, social scientists have recently started to talk about "technological forms of life". By this they do not mean anything like artificial life, but the following: if two people are engaged in a conversation and develop a new idea, this idea does not stem from one or the other, but from the association ­ or the form of life that they created. What is "in-between" people, is "within" a form of life. The characteristics of any technological form of life are not simply the sum of their individual qualities, but they emerge from their interaction.

From the point of view of purposeful design this creates a problem. We cannot design technological forms of life, they are emergent. What we can do, though, is design some of its elements, particularly the objects. These elements, however, are complemented by elements outside of our immediate control. This does not lessen the importance of design, but it changes its characteristics. As meaning and functionality move from the object of design into relationships created by flows, the object in itself becomes
incomplete. One cannot know what the full shape of an object is before one tries it out by inserting it into a specific intersection of flows. There it takes on a kind of life of its own. Excerpts >from *Space of Flows: Characteristics and Strategies by Felix Stalder*, november 26, 2002.

related context
flow: the design challenge of pervasive computing. november 6, 2002
> think networks: the new science of networks. june 6, 2002
> steven johnson's emergence. october 29, 2001
> google it!

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