Open source, code and architecture. It’s the memes stupid
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.
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