Intellectual Property & Open Source

Eric von Hippel, "Democratizing Innovation"

In this volume longtime innovation researcher von Hippel makes a broad and strong case for the existence of a general shift toward the democratization of innovation in the form of user-centered design increasingly dominating the process of product innovation. He heralds this shift as enhancing public welfare and providing new opportunities for both users and manufacturers. Building on his extensive previous work on user innovation (which includes both individual users and firms that use the products of others in their own business), he outlines a general model of user innovation that attempts to explain why users innovate...

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Mark A. Lemley and Ziv Shafir: "Who Chooses Open Source Software?"

The authors analyze publication data from 2007-2008 and find that 27% of academic users used open source software versus only 4% of commercial users (in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries). They also conducted a separate survey of Affymetrix customers and found that open source users were more likely to mention cost and modifiability as factors in their choice of software. While this is not surprising, the authors do find “curious” the lack of difference in other areas...

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Gigi Roggero: "Five Theses on the Common"

In a similar vein to Michael Hardt, Roggero notes that the current mode of capitalism, which he deems “cognitive capitalism,” relies heavily upon the common as creative potentia that capitalism constantly captures and privatizes through Intellectual Property law, even while the commons resists these totalizing tendencies. He calls for harnessing the common in such a way that it not only resists capitalist capture/appropriation, but actually mimics finance, turning the tables on the institutions that would turn such production into either private or public property, taking them “hostage” in a reversal of the appropriation process.

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S. Charusheela: "Engendering Feudalism: Modes of Production Revisited"

Charusheela outlines a Marxist feminist politics of communal social relations through a refocusing of the idea of the common by reconsidering “other-than-capitalist” modes of production that currently exist within capitalism itself yet are often ignored or mischaracterized. She notes the intransigence of a conceptual binary: any form of production that is not capitalist is assumed to be feudal. She argues that “feudal” is a catchall category for any system that does not mask its exploitation of labor through the abstraction of capital and markets (capitalism) and yet doesn’t involve open coercion (slavery) either.

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Yahya M. Madra and Ceron Özselçuk: "Jouissance and Antagonism in the Forms of the Commune: A Critique of Biopolitical Subjectivity"

Madra and Özselçuk find that with regard to the construction of subjectivity, both the governmentality literature (as typified by Foucault) and the post-Fordist literature (as typified by Hardt and Negri) are compromised by embedded forms of behaviorism in their attempts to theorize the neoliberal subject. Foucault errs in assuming that neoliberalism actually produces the rational subject that it posits, when in fact this subject is a fiction (that even the neoliberal literature doesn’t assume is real at the level of the individual).

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Harnad, Stevan: "The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now"

Among the many important implications of Houghton et al's (2009) timely and illuminating JISC analysis of the costs and benefits of providing free online access ("Open Access," OA) to peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific journal articles one stands out as particularly compelling: It would yield a forty-fold benefit/cost ratio if the world's peer-reviewed research were all self-archived by its authors so as to make it OA.

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Yongqin Gao and Greg Madey: "Network Analysis of the SourceForge.net Community"

Gao and Madey use standard network analysis techniques to analyze characteristics of the SourceForge.net community, which serves as the primary collaboration network for many open source projects. They use Structure and Centrality analysis to analyze the structure of the network itself, irrespective of time (i.e., utilizing a snapshot of network topography; their data is from 2006), and Path analysis to trace the change in certain key measures over time, in order to discover trends.

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Lawrence Lessig, "Code, Version 2.0"

Lessig is a lawyer, and this book is about regulation. His great contribution to the literature of open source and networked communication structures consists of expanding the notion of regulation to include not only legal structures, but technological ones as well. Regulation is written into legal codes, but it is also written into hardware and software codes. This is summed up in his dictum: “code is law.” Originally, in the context of the late 90s, Lessig was reacting to the euphoric cyberlibertarianism that flourished at the time. This creed had two components: one descriptive (“the Internet by its very nature is unregulable by government”) and one political and prescriptive (“government should not attempt to regulate the Internet”). Lessig attacks both points by noting that law is only one small component of a complex, interconnected system of regulation that depends on the market, cultural norms, architectural design (code), and finally government.

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Santiago Dueas et al, "Corporate Involvement of Libre Software"

This study parses the code of all packages included in the Debian operating system project, the largest open source software project in terms of lines of code (over 239 million at the time of writing in 2005, as it packages together the Linux kernel and packages from many other providers) searching for various copyright attributions.

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Richard Stallman, Free Software, and Copyleft

In the free and open source software community, only Linus Torvalds, the maintainer of the Linux kernel, retains a level of prestige, respect, and influence comparable to that of Richard Stallman. After the legendary programming feat of Emacs (the “ultimate text editor,” still in use today) and pioneering work on Artificial Intelligence at MIT's AI Lab in the 70s, Stallman became disillusioned with the increasingly proprietary nature of software within the Lab and in the wider software market, launching the GNU Operating System initiative in 1983, with the stated goal of creating a fully-free, Unix-like operating system from the ground up.

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Bergquist and Ljungberg, "The Power of Gifts"

Berquist and Ljungberg here attempt to build on the work of Eric Raymond and others who have explained the functioning of the open source community from within in order to provide the basis for the academic theorizing of such communities. They focus on the social customs of existing open source communities, analyzing “netiquette” and the process by which new users are socialized into the gift economy that characterizes open source. They particularly stress the differences between classic gift economies, as theorized by Mauss and others, and online, digital gift economies.

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Eric Raymond, Part II: “Homesteading the Noosphere”

In Raymond's essay, “Homesteading the Noosphere,” he traces out the unspoken rules of the open-source community, likening them to the Anglo-American common-law theory of land tenure, positing a discrepancy between the legal and sociological foundations of the culture. In doing so, he is working both as an anthropologist and as PR representative: he wishes to distance the open-source movement as a whole from the anti-capitalist stance implied by the legal structure of its licenses. To develop his argument, Raymond invokes the concept of the “noosphere.” This is “the territory of ideas, the space of all possible thoughts.” He conceives it as a resource, the raw material floating out there in software development land. The licenses that open-source software is published under, which forbids anyone from restricting how it's used or distributed, implies the non-ownership of ideas...

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David Mowery, "Federal policy and the development of semiconductors, computer hardware, and computer software: A policy model for climate-change R&D?"

Mowery identifies five components of the innovation system (considering the sectors of semiconductors, computer hardware, and computer software). The first four rest with the federal government: 1. R&D funding 2. procurement 3. IPR weakening 4. antitrust On top of these rest: 5. large commercial markets down the road

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Janet Abbate, "Inventing the Internet"

Janet Abbate, writing in 1999, claims that previous histories of the internet have failed to adequately combine narratives of origins and narratives of use. The internet is a special case for historians in that its origins and development conflate the two: that is, the form it has taken has been influenced not only by its original designers, but also its various users. Furthermore, those various influences can be thought of in terms of the social values held by the various designer and user communities. Embedded in Abbate's history, then, is a theory of innovation--however narrowly applied--that is non-hierarchical, use-centered, and social constructionist.

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Christopher Newfield, "Risky Business: Why Public Is Losing to Private in American Research"

Newfield here explores how narratives of public funding function within public and political spheres, while at the same time analyzing the role that public funding plays in technological innovation networks. He articulates the interplay between the two and tracks changes in each over the past thirty years through his own narrative device: a multi-generational extension of the central narrative of the 1983 film “Risky Business.” Newfield begins with an analysis of the film itself, noting that it provides a snapshot of the political, economic, and educational zeitgeist of the early '80s, as well as a popular hero narrative appropriate to that milieu...

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Christopher Newfield, "Avoiding Network Failure: The Case of the National Nanotechnology Initiative"

Christopher Newfield discusses the role of the federal government in correcting “market failure” by acting as an investor of last result for high-risk technologies that may have large eventual payoffs for society, yet which require many years—or decades—to develop. He uses the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) as a case study for this form of government research. Drawing on David Edgerton's The Shock of the Old, he emphasizes that the amount of money spent nationally on R&D does not correlate with a higher GDP.

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Patrick McCray, "From Lab to iPod: A Story of Discovery and Commercialization in the Post–Cold War Era"

McCray traces the history of “giant magnetoresistance” (GMR)—a phenomenon resulting from the nature of electron spin—from its simultaneous discovery in 1988 by Peter Grünberg and Albert Fert (2007 Nobel Prize winners) through its commercial development and application within the electronics industry. Early on, engineers at IBM harnessed the basic science of GMR to develop a “spin valve” that dramatically improved the performance and size of their hard drives, a technology they licensed to all leading hard drive manufacturers, leading to a revolution in that particular industry. This early success lead to the perception within the broader electronics industry that GMR could be exploited in a wide array of portable electronics, dubbed “spintronics”.

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Dan L. Burk & Mark A. Lemley: "The Patent Crisis and How Courts Can Solve It"

The authors argue that the current U.S. Patent system is in crisis because it attempts to apply a more or less unified system to a range of industries with completely different needs. Perhaps most strikingly, the pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on patents to spur innovation and wants to strengthen patent protections, while the information technology industry is largely opposed to the strong patent system, concerned that it hampers innovation (through patent thickets, generating business uncertainty, etc) more than it helps it.

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Michael Hardt: "The Common in Communism"

Hardt here focuses on “the common,” relating it to his larger project of rearticulating global Marxism vis-a-vis the immaterial or “biopolitical” mode of production of late capitalism: that is, the production of non-industrial, non-physical goods, including ideas, information, code, affects, social relationships and networks, etc. Hardt and others argue not that such goods have replaced industrial or pre-industrial goods, or even that quantitatively most labor is knowledge work, but rather that the central organizing paradigm of capitalism, structuring all labor, has shifted to the biopolitical mode...

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Aras Özgün: "A Common Word"

Özgün here echoes Hardt and Roggero in his analysis of capitalistic production as biopolitical and relying upon the capture of the commons. His most novel contribution to the conversation, however, lies in his articulation of the common with heterogeneity in linguistic communication. Post-Fordist production, unlike its predecessor form, is all about heterogeneity: it produces a commons that is itself heterogeneous, and this heterogeneity is the key to radical innovation by the commons. This is the primary tension between the commons and capitalism: post-Fordist capitalism relies upon constant innovation, which requires the exploitation of potential difference; hence capital’s uneasy relationship with the radically innovative commons.

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Kenneth Surin: "On Producing (the Concept of) Solidarity"

Surin approaches the concept of the common via an irreducible tension between agency and solidarity. He maintains that they are in a sort of chick-or-egg relationship to each other, and that we cannot conceive of either as anterior to the other: each is produced only in tandem with the other. Taking up a Spinozan ontology by way of Deleuze, he considers ideas or theories as operating on expressivities, or things considered as loci of effects. Surin’s move here is to break down the distinction between theory and practice, interior and exterior, thought and reality. Thought and materiality arise together; one is not reducible to the other; thus according to Surin a theory is a “practice of concepts.”

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Gargouri, Yassine et al. "Self-Selected or Mandated, Open Access Increases Citation Impact for Higher Quality Research"

Articles whose authors make them Open Access (OA) by self-archiving them online are cited significantly more than articles accessible only to subscribers. Some have suggested that this "OA Advantage" may not be causal but just a self-selection bias, because authors preferentially make higher-quality articles OA.

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Andrea Capiluppi and Martin Michlmayr: "From the Cathedral to the Bazaar: An Empirical Study of the Lifecycle of Volunteer Community Projects"

Capiluppi and Michlmayr argue, contra Eric Raymond, that most open source project do not start out as highly distributed, “bazaar-like” development models. Rather, most start out with a relatively hierarchical, small, stable core of developers with little outside recruitment or participation, and then transition at some point (if they grow large, complex, and successful enough) into a “bazaar phase” characterized by active recruitment of new developers, who form a large distributed network of volunteers, coinciding with a radical expansion of the software itself. The authors propose a three-phase structure for OSS projects: an initial cathedral stage, a transition stage, and a bazaar phase.

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Steven Weber, "The Success of Open Source"

Weber’s landmark book analyzes the open source movement from the perspective of political economy. Tracing the history of the movement from the Unix hacker culture of the 1970s through the birth of the legendary open source initiatives of the 1990s to the present (he’s writing in 2004), he is primarily interested in analyzing the factors of the open source process that have lead to its success in producing high quality, extremely complex products without any hierarchical structure and very little monetary incentive. This presents a significant challenge to some of the basic precepts of political economy, according to which such success should be impossible: For one thing, the making of nonexcludable goods (those for which no one can control access) and nonrival goods (those which can be copied indefinitely without incurring expense) is normally...

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John Noll, "Innovation in Open Source Software Development: A Tale of Two Features"

Noll traces two significant features implemented in popular open source software products, from proposal to final implementation: tabbed browsing in Mozilla Firefox and "edge magnetism" in the Gnome desktop environment. In both cases the features were suggested or at least implied by online postings from users of the software. In both cases, the initial posts spawned a sizable discussion among users and developers. In the case of

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Neal Stephenson, "In the Beginning... was the Command Line"

Speculative Fiction author Neal Stephenson embarks, in this 1999 non-fiction essay, on an exploration of open source by way of the GUI and a comparison of four operating systems: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and BeOS. Ultimately, he considers each of these OSs in relation to its use of the Graphical User Interface, or GUI. Ultimately, his essay is about text versus image, action versus passivity, in our culture at large.

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Richard Barbrook, "The Hi-Tech Gift Economy"

The Net reflects two different value systems. The first is that of open source, inherited from the hackers who invented it and the academics who first defined its structure through their early use patterns. These hackers and academics both functioned on the basis of gift economies, and carried those values over into the design of the Net. The result is a structure that is inherently hostile to the idea of “copyright.”

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Eric Raymond, Part I: “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”

Eric S. Raymond's classic essay, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” first published in 1997, set out for the first time to systematically define the technical, philosophical, and sociological characteristics of what is now commonly known as the “Open-Source Movement.” The essay proved highly influential in the hacker community, the popular media, and the software business world, and was later expanded and collected with subsequent Raymond essays in book form. Open-source software is not owned by anyone; it belongs to the community of developers who code it. Anyone is free to look at its source code and modify it if she desires. Significant examples include the Linux operating system, the Apache web server software that powers most of the Internet, the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser, and Sun's OpenOffice.org suite of office programs...

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Eric Raymond, Part III: “Open-Source makes good business sense!”

I will here consider Eric Raymond's discussion of classic open-source business models and outline his arguments for commercial open-source development over closed-source in his essay, “The Magic Cauldron.” I will then outline the impact that his own work has had in shifting corporate strategy within the software industry, as detailed throughout the second edition of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, and in his essay, “Revenge of the Hackers” in particular. Raymond contends that the traditional closed-source software industry largely operates under the “persistent but unfounded delusion that it is a manufacturing industry.” In reality, software is a service industry. He calls this the “factory model”: a company sells its product for a high initial price, then makes its service (technical support, updates, etc.) free or nearly free. But this doesn't make any sense for contemporary complex software, for which 75% of the cost is in maintenance, not development...

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Joel Mokyr, "Evolution and Technological Change: a new Metaphor for Economic History?"

Joel Mokyr takes a bold historiographic step and proposes a comprehensive theory of technological change (innovation) based upon evolutionary theory. In his model, individual technologies are the players in a vast web of interactions that spawn new technologies according to standard and predictable rules. His theory differentiates between technique, understood as a set of instructions for producing something, and technological artifacts themselves, or "technique in action." The first is analogous to genotype, the second to phenotype. Innovation then becomes a question of emergence--bottom-up behavior within a chaotic system--rather than the result of top-down design by a few "inventors." Mokyr calls this "open system behavior," and we must note that along with being emergent, innovation is seen here as being undirected, inexorable, and dynamic. It never slows down, and never occurs in isolation, contrary to monolithic, top-down models.

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David Edgerton, "The Shock of the Old"

Edgerton's basic historiographic thesis in “The Shock of the Old” is that innovation-centric accounts of the history of technology give us a very distorted understanding of technology's effects on society and society's effects on technology—an understanding that can be corrected only by looking at the history of technology in use. Edgerton's book is an extended argument for the inadequacy of the former approach, as well as a positive narrative of technology as it has been used from the year 1900 to the present. Thus his book embodies two highly interrelated but separate projects—one negative, one positive.

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Thomas Hughes, "Networks of Power : Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930"

Hughes' book, an exhaustive study of electrification from 1880 to 1930, primarily focuses on the development of electric grids in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany. Hughes is primarily concerned with working out a complex conceptual framework for understanding technology as system. He characterizes electrical systems as fundamentally constituted not only of interconnected technological artifacts (generators, couplers, relays, lamps) but also local, regional, and national political structures, perceived (and manufactured) societal need, geographical features, etc. The form that electric grids take is not determined by internal (mechanical or scientific) necessity, but by external social factors. Thus the electric grid developed very differently depending upon the structures of the local governments that had jurisdiction over them...

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David Edgerton, "From Innovaton To Use: Ten Eclectic Theses on the Historiography of Technology"

Edgerton objects to what he considers a juvenile bias in the field of the history of technology: an obsession with technology-as-innovation. He believes that framing historiographical questions and inquiries in terms of innovation leads leaves out most of the real story, and distorts the rest. In particular, it restricts our attention on technology that is new, on regions located within the rich (first) world, on individuals in the privileged class of inventors, on nationalist narratives, and on successful technologies only.

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