The Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany is recruiting a Research Director to help build and manage the Center’s full research portfolio. The full job description and application information can be found here.
Please, choose an option in the side menu.
Open source, code and architecture. It's the memes stupid
University of Liverpool
Can the Open Source concept be applied to content? Surprisingly, academic commentary and debates revolved around the question of why Open Source is critical to the maintenance of the Information Society. The standard move which characterises the debates involve an examination of the “incentive models”, the ideology of the hacker culture or the design architecture of the communications system powered by the Internet.For example, couched in the metaphor of code is Lessig’s normative premise that the information commons is a prerequisite to preserving value in our culture. The insights the metaphor generates do not compensate the need to search for a more rigorous theoretical base for understanding the relationship between the instruments we create for facilitating creativity and knowledge flows on the one hand and the transformative value of science and technology. There is no doubt whatsoever that the design infrastructure has transformative. The inability of the music industry to curb the prevalence of online file sharing and the impact of the peer to peer software on orthodox retailing models is a case in point. The emergence of new creative and knowledge spaces in the form of Blogs, Wiki and Creative Commons clearly require an answer to the question posed at the outset. This paper aims to provide one answer to this question. I suggest that the issues raised in the question compel us to better understand the pivotal role and value of copyright, patents and contract as instruments facilitating selection and cooperation. Approaching the subject of Open Source and its relationship with the proprietary models enables one to put forward the following hypothesis. It cannot be seriously doubted that contemporary institutional infrastructures regulating creative and knowledge spaces are deeply impregnated with ideas about the complex nature of adaptation, replication and evolution of social systems. For example, copyright and patent systems attempt to replicate cultural memes through its procedural and substantive systems. It follows that if we are to engage in a rationale debate on the best way to answer this question an appreciation of evolutionary theory and cultural memes is critical. This paper will describe evolutionary theory and complex systems and offer some assessments of its significance to this question.
Click here to view Power Point Presentation
Law as a singular social phenomenon.
Institute for Law and Informatics
Faculty of law
Law is a singular social phenomenon. It affects each and every one of us. It interests each and every one of us. It is easy to talk about; it is easy to write about. And it is easy to criticize. Law and justice do not always go hand in hand, however. The work we do and the tools we use to determine what is right and what is wrong are inadequate. In the modern constitutional state, law and justice should coincide as closely possible. This is one of the fundamental requirements of democracy.
The principal way in which we, as a society, pursue, articulate and realize justice is to draft and enact laws. Laws are codes that impose obligations in various ways. The world we live in is a world of legal codes. There is no shortage of laws, and more are being enacted as we speak. This is a problem. In a democracy individuals should know the law. This is a sound principle. Otherwise we would not be living in a democracy.
At one time, it was thought that open information networks required no regulation. That is, information space would be a realm of freedom. This was a noble enough notion before open information networks became an infrastructure of and for the masses; this is what they most decidedly are today. The information highway was a good slogan in its day.
Regulation of infrastructure is an exceptionally difficult form of regulation. The rationale for it must always be grounded in the social contract and basic rights. Yet this has been largely forgotten when enacting provisions that govern open information networks. Convergence has yet to reach to the level of basic rights.
Lawrence Lessig has proposed that we invert the perspective to view programming code as law. This is the correct point of departure. It is in fact a good example of how science should carry out its critical function in society. What happens after that is more problematic. It is easy enough to write about law.
But if we keep a close eye on the position of information networks as part of society’s infrastructure, the crucial role of programming code becomes apparent. Open- and closed-source code are both important in legal terms. And – as I will argue – it is the regulation of open-source code that is the priority. It is a crucial step towards the goal of keeping democracy simple.