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[ox-en] Free Software, Free Society - Yes, we can! Yes, we will!

Dear list,

please find included a talk I'm proud of going to present in
Thiruvananthapuram (India) next week.

You'll find it with a nicer layout under

As usual the fundament of the content is probably well-known here but
some newer insights are integrated.

Also as usual: Any feedback is wholeheartedly appreciated.



=== 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< === 8< ===

Free Software, Free Society: Yes We Can! Yes We Will!

.. Goettingen

:Author: Stefan Merten

:Date: 2008-12-09..11, Thiruvananthapuram

:Organization: Project Oekonux


.. contents::

The Oekonux Project

A virtual project

* Oekonux = *Oekon*\ omie + lin\ *ux* (German)

  * I.e.: Economy + Linux

  .. class:: handout

     German roots but meanwhile international

* Discussion process about Free Software and society

  * Started in 1999

  * Wide range of opinions and fields

  * Common interest in emancipation

  * Featuring: Michel Bauwens

* Virtual project

  * Mailing lists

  * Web sites (

  * Wiki

* 4th Oekonux Conference

  * 2009-03-27..29, Manchester (UK)

  * Together with P2P Foundation


.. highlights::

   Feel free to join!

Yes, we can: Free Software as a mode of production

What is a mode of production?

* Mode of production describes how a society reproduces itself

* Important features

  1. Products and means of production

  2. Societal embedding of production

  3. Productivity

.. highlights::

   Mode of production is the fundament of a society

   .. class:: handout

      That is why we need to look at when we think about a fundamental
      change in society

Examples for modes of production

.. class:: handout

   To give you an idea of what mode of production means

* Mode of production in feudalism

  * Agricultural production, peasants and artisans

  * Personal relations in communities

  * Aristocracy

  * Low productivity

* Mode of production in capitalism

  * Industrial production, workers

  * Exchange based relationships (aka money)

  * Democracy

  * High productivity

.. highlights::

   Mode of production shapes a society

Free Software as a new mode of production

.. class:: handout

   What is special about Free Software then?

.. list-table::
   :header-rows: 1
   :stub-columns: 1

   * *
     * Capitalism
     * Free Software

   * * Flow of goods
     * Property and abstract exchange
     * Free flow of goods

   * * Governance
     * Command and control
     * Volunteers and maintainers

   * * Reason to contribute
     * Alienated (earning money)
     * Enjoying task and project

   * * Societal vs. individual utility
     * Separated into different spheres
     * Directly intertwined

.. highlights::


      Yes, we can!

      -- Barack Obama

What is Selbstentfaltung?

* Enjoying task and project = Selbstentfaltung

  * Opposite: alienation

* Two basic characteristics

  1. Having fun individually

  2. While maintaining a relationship to society

* Important expression: Volunteering for useful tasks

* Selbstentfaltung aims at absolute quality

  * If it is "your baby" you want to be *proud* of it

  * No boss stops you from doing so

  * Impossible if you need to make profit

.. highlights::

   Free Software releases the power of Selbstentfaltung

Other examples of this mode of production

* Wikipedia

  * Similar to Free Software in many respects

  * Openness, volunteers, transnational, ...

* OpenAccess

  * I.e.: Free Science

  * Grass root movement from the scientists

* More

  * Free Car projects

  * Free Music

  * Free Genetic information

  * ...

* General term: **peer production**

.. highlights::

   Peer production is generalizable beyond Free Software

Change we can believe in: Free Software as a germ form

.. class:: handout

   So far: Potential by a new mode of production

   Now: How it is going to happen

What is a germ form?

* Germ form theory describes how development happens

  * Originated in critical psychology (Holzkamp)

  * Explains how the human psyche came into being

  * Applicable to other fields

* Key characteristics of a germ form:

  1. Structurally new

  2. Emerging from and existing in the old

  3. Potential to take over

.. highlights::

   Germ form theory explains how fundamental change takes place

The five step model

1. *Emerging of the new*

   .. class:: handout

      * First appearances of the germ form

      * Think: Free Software in 1984

2. *Crisis of the old*

   .. class:: handout

      * Slump of the old forms

      * Think: Crisis of classical Unices on midrange servers

3. *Disseminating and expanding*

   * Germ form becomes important *in the old process*

   .. class:: handout

      * Think: Free Software today

   * Key question: Does the germ form keep its germ form features?

4. *Achieving dominance*

   .. class:: handout

      * Think: Proprietary software replaced by Free Software

5. *Restructuring of entire system*

   .. class:: handout

      * Restructuring of entire system

.. highlights::


      Change we can believe in!

      -- Barack Obama

Where do we stand today?

* For software

  * Free Software is well in phase 3: *disseminating and expanding*

  * Pretty obvious

  * Earlier phases were hard to recognize!

* For society

  * Peer production is in phase 1: *emerging of the new*

  * Thus it is hard to believe that it has big potential

  * Also: Peer production will certainly change it's face

.. highlights::

   Don't hold you breath - but stay tuned

Capitalism as a germ form phenomenon

.. class:: handout

   You may ask: Are there prior examples?


* *Emerging of the new* happened long ago

  .. class:: handout

     Earliest forms appeared during the Roman Empire

* *Crisis of the old* happened when the feudal principles exhausted

  .. class:: handout

     For instance: Religious schism in the Christian church

     For instance: European Enlightenment and new forms of science
     transcended feudal principles

* *Disseminating and expanding* started with early textile industry

* Capitalism has *achieved dominance* in the 20th century

* Restructuring society is still not fully complete

* Important: Society changed *after* the productive fundament allowed

  * Technical revolution was a precondition for a change of the mode
    of production

.. highlights::

   A new mode of production starting as a germ form *can* take over

Yes, we will: A peek into the future

The Utopia

.. class:: handout

   How will society look like after restructuring?

   However: predictability is very limited

   But on an abstract level things can be said

* Societal useful activities are Selbstentfaltung

* More automation reduces unwanted activities

* All goods are freely available

* Overcoming labor society

  * No commodities, no labor

  * No exchange, no money

  * No alienation

.. highlights::

   The start of a new era

Free information goods

* The idea of Free Software spreads out already

  * Seen: Wikipedia, OpenAccess

  * Also: Free music, blogs, ...

  * Upcoming: Free genetic information, ...

* Creative Commons licenses as an important step

.. highlights::

   This happens already

Free material goods - the practical approach

* Free design communities

  * Free car design

  * Appropedia

  * ...

  * Make production cheaper

* User contributions become more important

  * Some corporations start to include user contributions

  * Gives them an advantage in competition

  * See: Eric v. Hippel

* Key question: Access to expensive means of production

.. highlights::

   First steps in the right direction

Free material goods - the theoretical approach

* Historical example: Capitalism and agricultural production

  * Agricultural production was key in feudalism

  * Agricultural production still exists

  * Agricultural production is an appendage of industrial production

  * Proves: The focus of society moved

* Now: Material production becomes an appendage of information

  * Information already *is* an important precondition for material

.. highlights::

   Overall restructuring removes material production from the focus

Wrap up


* Peer economy establishes a new mode of production

* Germ form theory shows how this mode of production can develop

Thank you

* Thank you for your attention

* More on this:

* Contact: smerten AT

* 4th Oekonux Conference

  * *Free Software and Beyond - The World of Peer Production*

  * 2009-03-27..29, Manchester (UK)


* Questions? Comments?

  * Selbstentfaltung unleashes creativity

    * Being creative is fun

    * Creating requires responsibility

    * Creating useful things relates to society

..  LocalWords:  rst en OekonuxWiki Merten Thiruvananthapuram Oekon omie lin ux
..  LocalWords:  Bauwens aka Barack Obama Unices Goettingen Appropedia Hippel

Contact: projekt

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