Category Archives: 10. zombie ontology

a. summary


This chapter is about the commons in a networked information economy where our digital selves are shaped by corporate media and consumerism. How can artists twist and reinvent the digital tools to reclaim a networked world? Can we imagine digital and virtual communities with ‘data sovereignity’, with examples such as blockchain.

IF CONVENTIONAL INSTITUTIONS of power remain stubbornly resistant to change and tethered to conventional property rights, cyberspace has been a very different story. Since it became widely available in 1994, the World Wide Web has been an exciting arena for innovators, idealists and iconoclasts precisely because there are no legacy institutions to displace. Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the unparalleled capacity of the Internet to foster social cooperation and sharing. The first, most astonishing set of revelations about online commoning came with the emergence of free software, also known as open source software. Open source programs include Perl (a programming language), Sendmail (a mail program), Apache (the most used server program on the Internet, which powers critical “backend” functions) and Linux (a major computer operating system that rivals Windows). The surprising power of distributed networks was quickly followed by the rise of the blogosphere, social networking and Wikipedia, a living, pulsating Web encyclopedia that has become a digital republic unto itself, with more than seventy thousand volunteers working in 285 languages.(David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 113)

There is also the flourishing genre of open-access scholarly publishing, which has enabled academic disciplines and universities to bypass parasitic commercial publishers and reclaim control over their research literature. Working along the same lines, the open educational resources (OER)[ movement has pioneered the cooperative development of open textbooks, curricula and course materials. Many of these commons-based innovations have been possible only because of Creative Commons licenses. These are a suite of six basic licenses and other legal instruments that let copyright holders invert copyright law’s default rules of strict private control and instead authorize legal sharing. Creators can build commons of shareable content by asserting defensible legal limits on the private appropriation or commercialization of their content. Over time this has produced an unprecedented global sharing economy of software code, research studies, photo archives, blog posts and other creative works. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 114) The result: a profound global cultural revolution whose full disruptive potential is still ahead. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 116)

The General Public License led to the Creative Commons licenses, which then gave rise to OA{open-acces} publishing. From there, in 2009 and after, a wide array of open educational resources, or OER, emerged as the next turn of the viral spiral. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 122)

The viral spiral that started with free software and the CC licenses continues to expand. The very term “open source” has become a widely used cultural meme to celebrate production that is open, participatory, transparent and accountable. Open source principles now animate a robust “open design” movement that invites anyone to help design clothing, furniture, computer components, even automobiles. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 123)

c. What does information really want?


Big Think, USA
2012, 5 min 16 sec

In 1984, Stewart Brand said that “information wants to be free” (and also expensive). A quarter century later, he revisits his famous phrase. Brand’s response to what he wants for information is “more, choice, options, sifting,…”.

He mentions the importance of blogs – a digital commons –  to lead him to information he otherwise would not get to. The fact that his research sources for his book are available through the internet and you can make up your own mind about it is a fantastic gain for Brand.

e. Democratic Cities


D-CENT Project, USA
2016, 4 min 41 sec

Interview with Adam Greenfield, a London-based writer and urbanist. He elaborates on his latest work ‘Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life’. To him, ‘radical’ can mean ‘politically radical’ or ‘cutting to the root of something’.  He focusses on technologies that fundamentally condition our everyday life, condition our ability to relate to one another, condition the sorts of selves we become, condition how we organise ourselves in groups. These technologies include automation, the block chain, virtual reality and digital fabrication. He questions their possibilities and limitations and concludes them as ‘scary’, since they don’t have anything to offer that can possibly do better than the experience of participating in a general assembly, this ‘old’ technology of being physically in one another presence, forced to reckon with each other as unique individuals, forced to recognise the subjectivity of one another and to grant their validity of their perspective on the world and that we don’t necessarily need to find agreement on all matters.

f. Free VS. Open Source Software


Tech Perspectives
2009, 2 min 41 sec

Richard Stallman talks about free v open source software. Stallman quit his job at MIT in ’84 to start developing a free operating system, ‘GNU’. ‘Free’ refers to freedom, not price. Free programmes can (later) be worked on by a group of people including non of the original developers. In ’91 his team almost finished GNU, the goal was to create an operating system similar to UNIX but entirely free.  By exchanging a variety of worked out systems for free, he, along with many other people, for instance the developer of LINUX, completed all the different components needed to create GNU.

g. further research



Peter Weir, The Truman Show  (1998)

Jean-Luc GodardAlphaville (1965)

Eben Moglen,  “Anarchism Triumphant:  Free Software and the Death of Copyright,”First Monday” ‘August 2, 1999)

 Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas (2001)

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks (2006)

Peter Drahos & John Braithwaite, Information Feudalism (2002)

 The Intercept: How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations  (2004)

d. Bunker Roy on the Barefoot College


Rajasthan, India
2009, 6 min 35 sec

In Rajasthan an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men – many of them illiterate – to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. The initiative is called the Barefoot College and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works. His dream was to build a college for the poor by the poor.

b. The Barefoot College


Responsible Business,
2011, 6 min 38 sec

Established in 1972, the Barefoot College is a non-government organization that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities for more than 40 years, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable. These Barefoot solutions can be broadly categorized into the delivery of solar electrification, clean water, education, livelihood development (health care, rural handicrafts and communication) and activism.