|Name, City/Country:||Yuwei Lin, Kaohsiung, Taiwan|
|E-Mail:||yl107 york.ac.uk ('@' removed -- spam-avoidance!)|
Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU)|
Department of Sociology, University of York
York, YO10 5DD. UK
|Event data:||May, 22nd / 14:00 / 3 hrs. / Track A / Room 3B / english|
Yuwei Lin: Epistemologically Multiple Actor-Centred System - or: EMACS at work!
The paper begins with the story of EMACS (short for Editing MACroS), an editor programme originally written for TECO (Text Editor and Corrector) language and PDP-10 machines in the MIT AI Lab by Richard Stallman, from which various more sophisticated versions have been developed. I analyse how the innovation of EMACS took place over time as a socio-technical process. The EMACS story serves to illustrate how the innovation process in the FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) community occurred, but one that is then adopted and deployed in other social contexts, including the commercial sector. The analysis of EMACS is especially useful since it spans the period that saw the origins of the free software movement and the subsequent development of a broader FLOSS social world. I will talk about how a variety of EMACSen (a plural form of EMACS) (e.g. GNU Emacs, XEmacs, MulticsEmacs etc.) is created, developed and employed/deployed in mundane programming within an actor-centred network. Actors from different backgrounds contribute multiple ways of knowing, understanding and resolving problems that arise in the innovation process. A socio-technical perspective is employed to analyse how EMACSen are shaped by diverse actors, and at the same time also shape these actors and their practices.
To widen the scope of the paper in terms of its implication in a wider societal dimension, anchored in sociology of intellectual/knowledge, this paper also contributes to our understanding of the formation of knowledge in the Internet era, where information and knowledge flow fluidly and rapidly. The EMACS case denotes various key factors of forming cosmopolitan knowledge: how actors network together (e.g. shared interests), how they interact with one another (e.g. problem-solving process), and how local epistemologies and tacit knowledge being translated into cosmopolitan expertise in an in/tangible form (e.g. materiality of software). I believe this empirical enquiry will provide us with a means of retaining the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events. Methodologically speaking, the contextual thickness makes a case study appropriate for "how" and "why" research questions because answering these questions deals with operational links needing to be traced over time. The detailed investigation of FLOSS phenomenon with attention to its context by using multiple sources of evidence and various methods of data collection will help to examine the innovation process by which new FLOSS technologies are created, arguing that this is ongoing and involves diverse groups who give the technology different meanings.
Aputsiaq Janussen: Adding Rationality to Himanen`s Hacker Ethic
The concepts of "Free Software" and "Hacker Ethic" were termed in the mid 1980's by respectively arch-hacker Richard M. Stallman and journalist Steven Levy. Free Software and hacker ethics hasn't drawn much academically attention in the past millennium.
However, since Finnish philosopher Pekka Himanen sociological-hackerish study into these concepts - and related thoughts - we are now able to relate them to both ancient and contemporary academic debate. Himanen's "The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age" (2001) imitates the title, themes and cleverness of Max Weber's "Die protestantische Ethic und der Geist des Kapitalismus". Himanen succeeds to a large degree to establish the "Hacker Ethic" as a serious challenge to contemporary Western societies goals and values.
Himanen's account is worth taking serious - and worth improving upon. Studying Himanen's work (2001) and doing philosophical investigations of the concept "Hacker Ethic" has brought forth some findings. In particular Himanen's non-obvious neglect of Max Weber's profound insight into the rationality of Western society (and rationality as such) leaves his account vulnerable to a series of strong arguments.
I will suggest the concept of rationality built into a simple account of the hacker ethic. On that basis the hacker ethic allows us to engage in even bigger battles in today's debate on goal and values. In my view the hacker ethic allows us to debate not only software, but also technology, science and culture in general. Therefore this contribution should be seen as a service pack or a patch to Himanens valuable account.