Please consider submitting a research paper, policy viewpoint, workbench note, or teaching innovation manuscript for the conference “The Politics of Open Source.” The conference will take place on May 6-7, 2010, in Amherst, Massachusetts. The Program Committee, of which I am a member, especially encourages papers that approach the notion of “open source politics” broadly and imaginatively. The deadline for paper submissions is January 10, 2010.
This Wednesday I am giving a talk about my work at the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers. The talk is entitled “Contentious Europeanization: Activism against Software Patents in the European Union” and is scheduled for 2 p.m., at the SCILS Faculty Lounge, Room 323, 4 Huntington Street, New Brunswick.
I am currently finishing the syllabus for my course “Literature and Technology: Online Ethnography.” The shedule of readings is available at the Online Ethnography website. The rest of the website is reserved for the students enrolled in the course.
For the past week I have been in California at an interdisciplinary workshop, entitled “Values in Design,” that brought together graduate students from several programs in science and technology studies, iSchools, and humanities and social sciences (from US and EU) whose research interests revolve around information technologies. Our motley group, guided by provocative faculty, worked through some interesting divergences in understanding how “values,” “design” and “values in design” might be conceptualized. Great selection of readings was a shared basis for our discussions of intent and agency in computer systems, methods (notably ethnographic ones) for grasping “values,” and the links between formulating theoretical understandings and research and artifact design.
One part of the workshop was a week-long group project. My group was thematized by organizers Geof Bowker and Helen Nissenbaum as “open source / cyberculture.” Our project was inspired by “the freedom to study” which is one of foundational principles of free software, “page source” option on many web browers, and the “view source” key on the One Laptop Per Child computers. We asked, what kinds of “sources” would be necessary to foster software literacy in a diverse population? Our response was in the form of a web-based application intended to promote understanding of software as a socio-cultural, organizational and technical artifact. Specifically, we wanted to highlight the (often overlooked) diversity of activities that drive a software project forward in various key moments. We were also concerned with increasing means for raising awareness about diversity (or lack of it) among free software and open source contributors. The slides of our final presentation are available for download.
I filed my dissertation and now can finally start experimenting with other kinds of writing — for example, blogging. I suspect this blog will be a very occasional affair, with one or two posts a month at most. It may take me some time to find an appropriate voice. Your comments and gentle criticisms are most welcome.
P.S. May 25, 2010: For an unknown reason, UMI took almost two years to make my dissertation available via open access. My repeated requests finally resulted in an explanation that it was a mistake on their part. My Publications page now links to the full text of my dissertation.