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Editing and the Crisis of Open Source

Powerful Essays
Editing and the Crisis of Open Source

The Free Software movement that began in 1985 and the newer "open source" movement, represented a serious threat to traditional methods of production and distribution. The idea of a non-proprietary method of cultural exchange was and is a radical departure from traditional models that have come to restrict creativity and free exchange. In the ensuing years, there was a gradual drift away from ideas of non-proprietary toward ideas of access to software’s code level. This mirrored an evident diffusion of these “open” ideas into the cultural sphere. Open publishing, open editing, open music, and open culture are now hip buzzwords that point toward a new cultural formation based on a more free exchange of ideas. But contrary to the grand proclamations of some, what we are witnessing is the capture and transformation of elements threatening to capitalism, and a repackaging of open source concepts to be useful in a new flexible labor environment.

One of the fundamental issues at stake in the open source debate is ownership of the text. There are media projects currently at work that completely destabilize concepts of ownership and copyright, projects that have the chance to point toward an altogether new, non-proprietary future. Indymedia.org was one of the forerunners of open publishing, a method by which readers could upload an article and contribute to any article’s meaning by appending comments directly afterwards. One step forward in this trend is the creation of the Wiki; those message boards with a funny name that allow users to actually re-create the text in question, functioning as author/editors with or without authority. The consequences for traditional ideas of textual editing are ...

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