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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  April 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING April 2008

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Subject:

Re: Open source first steps

From:

Myron Turner <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Myron Turner <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 13 Apr 2008 17:53:58 -0500

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To begin with, I personally embrace open source, have participated in 
various open source programming projects, and have just completed a year 
long project of my own which takes open source as one of its aesthetic 
bases (http://net18reaching.org/cityscapes).  I particularly I like 
Gabriel's formulation, that open source should be viewed as a kind of 
"poetics".  But there's a distinction between what might be a poetics of 
Open Source and what open source means for programmers.  For the 
programmer, it has come to be a way of putting as many heads together as 
possible to guarantee the best outcome.  As a poetics, as we see from 
this thread, it generally means one of two things--control over one's 
work and its aesthetic outcome, or some form of communal/social 
enterprise with egalitarian and altruistic motives.  Interestingly, in 
defining Open Source in "the Cathedral and the Bazaar", Eric Raymond 
sees OS as an ego-driven enterprise, the defining vocabulary for which 
is capitalism.  That this attitude is out there in Raymond-land was made 
real to me just recently when I found myself on the receiving end of it.

When poetics means some control over one's work, I think we have to look 
at contexts.  Over a decade ago,  I was involved in Rhizome discussions 
about Flash, which had just appeared. I felt that Flash imposed 
pre-formed visual ideas on art works.  I used much the same terminology 
as Dominic, seeing the art work as being taken over by external 
metaphors.  The other thing that bothered me was that it channeled art 
into forms for which commercial needs had priority over aesthetic. 

But perhaps I was taking took puritanical a view.  For, the question, I 
think, is how far one wants to push the quest for purity.  Or I should 
say "how far back?"  Because behind Flash is the browser, which comes in 
different flavors, each with different capacities, and behind the 
browser is the GUI, generally based on the "windows" metaphor, though 
there are 3D and cubic formats.  Or we could strip away the GUI and, in 
Unix fashion, use a totally text-based interface, but this itself is a 
metaphor for the manipulation and storage of data--a more "technical", 
geeky metaphor, but a metaphor nevertheless.  Each of these is a 
framework, a metaphor for one's view of things, into which a work has to 
fit itself and which will inevitably shape meaning.  Good work will 
always make an attempt to be aware of the framework, rather than being 
its unwitting expression.  And this goes for any work, including Open 
Source. 

Open source as a metaphor for communal values is something else.  Here 
we are talking about what I like to think of as a poetics of space, in 
particular of the space we inhabit on the Internet.  At its best, it is 
a vast, empowering imaginative space, which transcends the egoisms that 
Eric Raymond would make its foundation.  And here I think artists have 
an important place, to  keep up the pressure to aestheticize that space 
and keep it human.


Myron Turner


dominic smith wrote:
>
> >From a personal perspective I am more excited to use an open tool. In 
> terms of software Photoshop is a very professional and slick package. 
> I can work very fast with it, however I do feel that from the moment I 
> run this piece of software I am locked into the use of a pre existing 
> set of metaphors, the lasso, pen and mask etc. They have all had teams 
> of people sitting around big tables and discussing their relative 
> merits. But as an artist I wish to have more control and initiate my 
> own projects with my own set of more appropriate metaphors, this is 
> one of the obvious benefits of open source. If I want to develop my 
> own set of tools, or even just contribute to an already existing piece 
> of software then the framework is in place to do so and possibly 
> collaborate with like minded individuals.
> I do have a question for members of this discussion on this matter of 
> contributing to software development. Do you feel that successful 
> collaboration on an open project is as simple as members contributing 
> useful code to a project or are there other factors such as 
> friendships and geographical location that have an impact?
>

[log in to unmask] wrote:
> Free Software is too content with simply reverse-engineering or 
> micking the cramped sensoriums of proprietary software. Copying 
> Microsoft Word feature-by-feature and opening up the source code is 
> not freedom. Mimesis is misery." It's easy to see what that means if 
> we compare Cinelerra (a powerful Final Cut / Adobe Premiere mockup) to 
> Pure Data (a dataflowing programming language devoted to 
> audio/video/multimedia). Both are open source software/ frameworks, 
> and both are used to produce audiovisual, but in a radically different 
> way.
>
> Cinelerra framework insists on the closed ouvre, on the separation 
> between production and consumption (i.e., producers and consumers), 
> while Pure Data explodes this completely. In fact, every "movie" made 
> in puredata is actually a software piece, processual systems naturally 
> open to interventions and contaminations.
>
> All in all, I think that, if we're to think open source seriously, we 
> must look at it as a particular poetics, not only as a collection of 
> products ou a community.
>
> [log in to unmask]

_____________________

Myron Turner
http://www.room535.org

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