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[jox] Free Software Special Issue

Dear All,

I send you teh text Vincenzo and myself have prepared for the special
issue on Free Software.

Two main points:

- we have thought of an invitation based issue, with papers co-authored
by social scientists and computer scientists; if someone among you wants
to participate or suggest some potential contributor, we will be happy
to include them;

- we were thinking about inviting David Golumbia to the debate section
of this special issue before the AIR-L debate; we are once more
convinced of how a piece by him can be useful but we would like to have
your opinion before inviting him.

Below you find the short introduction that we will share with the
invited contributors (so we have to check their availability too) and a
list of names of contributors both for the research papers and the
debate papers. Feel free to make any suggestion. We can reasonably
expect the issue to be ready in May 2012.




The Critical Power of Free Software: from Intellectual Property to

From the perspective of social organization, Free Software can  be
conceived as a form of critique by adaptability and modifiability, as
pointed out by anthropologist Christopher Kelty, standing outside
institutionalized forms of power and providing working alternatives as
critical tools. Starting from such kind of understanding, Free Software
has been interpreted as a form of critique toward consolidated
capitalistic tropes and contemporary forms, like the extension of
Intellectual Property toward any kind of common pool resources or the
forms of organization of labour and coordination of distributed
Nevertheless, the increasing adoption of Free Software by multi-national
corporations is now forecasting the domestication of free software
practices by contemporary global capitalism and hierarchical forms of
social organization. It happens in particular in the form of the Open
Source dialect, through the extensive overlapping of the open source
discourse with the capitalistic discourses, such as the one on
legitimate hybrid business models, between open source and proprietary
Such perspective requires that the critical power of Free Software is
brought under scrutiny, moving from the undermining of the discourses of
Intellectual Property, organization of work or hierarchy, to the
understanding of the epistemological implications for computer science
and software engineering. From this point of view, arguments like the
one by David Golumbia, who sees the epistemology of computing as the
locus of production and reproduction of long standing inequalities in
power relationship, are suggesting new areas of enquiry. Is Free
Software able to critique the epistemological basis of computing? Is it
able to connect its critique of discourses of Intellectual Property and
organizational forms to the critique of the premises of software
development as a professional and research practice? 
Those are the questions this special issue is trying to answer. It is
trying to do that through papers co-authored by social scientists and
computer scientists, who will try to envision the potential for Free
Software of being a form of interdisciplinary, cultural and material,

Invited contributors:

Maurizio Teli, Ahref Foundation & Vincenzo D'Andrea, University of
Trento (eds.)

David Hakken, Indiana University & a CS colleague to be announced
 (DH accepted the invitation)

Christian Fuchs, Uppsala University (to be contacted and asked to
contact a CS)

Debate invitations (to be invited):

Fabio Casati, University of Trento

Judith Simon, Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Superiore, Paris

Pelle Ehn, Malmö University

Christopher Kelty, Duke University

David Golumbia, University of Virginia


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