February 14, 2006

An ethical assessment of free software licensing schemes

Category: Ethics,F/OSS — @ 2:43 pm

My buddies over at decoding liberation recently participated in a video conference to discuss thier paper–An ethical assessment of free software licensing schemes–which produced some interesting blog debate. Worth checking out if you are interested in the nitty-gritty links between licensing and ethical standards.

February 7, 2006

The Ethics of Nanotech and Open Source

Category: Ethics,IP Law,Politics — @ 6:25 pm

Here are two good pieces that address the broader ethical implications and political consequences of nanotech and open source:

Revolution in a Box: the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology also has a good discussion on whether open source is feasible for nanotech production, and how it may provide for a more or less ethical brakes in nanotech.

Convergence brings together various luminaries, academics, and acitivists who participate in various social movements, that while distinct, all concern the law of intellectual propert. Here these folks provide us with some thoughts on some of the broader implications of open source in shifitng the global politics of IP. (more…)

The Patron Saint of Hackers: Thomas Jefferson

A couple of weeks ago, at the CCA we had the pleasure of having a guest speaker: David Post. A law professor (and so much more if you read his bio) from Temple University, he writes on issues related to freedom and cyberspace. He is now working on a book, tentatively titled Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (check out some sections here. )

As he explained, the book uses a Jeffersonian framework (apparently Jefferson was quite interested in how to make the republican nation “scale” and he used the natural world as his guide), to think about the nature of the Internet and questions of scaling. At some point during our discussion, he referred to Jefferson as “the patron saint of hackers.” I, of course, got incredibly exicted when he said that (mostly because it was so right on and so darn eloquent too), but also because it captures how liberal ideals, live on, in radically different contexts. Of course most hackers and geeks have not read Notes on the state of Viriginia (Jefferson’s only book) nor do most house a small corner candlelight shrine of Jefferson atop of their Linux box (though perhaps they should).

But some of his most well known ideas, continue to have salience (you know, the famous, That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. “)

The fact that Jefferson acts a potent present-day icon demonstrates one example of how long-standing liberal values become practically articulated and revisioned. Of course they change, and the reasons for which TJ may act as a signpost often has more to do with present day conditions, than those of the past, but his example, and his ghost existence all over the web, is one way to think of both the cultural life of liberalism as well as the continuities, as well as transformations, with liberalism of times past.

Greg Lastowka , another fellow at the CCA, is also interested in cyberlaw, freedom, and all that good jazz and he recently passed along an article, Would Jefferson have googled? reporting on a speech by U of Michigan president Sue C. where she argues for the importance of Google Print.

All of this talk of liberalism and culture, reminds me that I should post a class syllabus I have recently developed “The Cultural Life of Liberalism” that is a first attempt to broaden the ways in which anthropologists approach liberalism as a cultural formation (outside of questions of multiculturalism, which has been covered quite exquisitely). Hopefully it will be up in the next few days and I can receive some feeback.

February 3, 2006

New Anthro Journal

Category: Anthropology — @ 8:51 pm

After Culture (warning, link to journal directs you to microsoft.com but the journal looks interesting, nonetheless).

Papers are sought for the inaugural volume of a new peer-reviewed journal, “After Culture: Emergent Anthropologies.” The first issue is planned for release in September 2006, and thereafter will be published semiannually (in March and September) and made available free through the internet (URL forthcoming). We are currently seeking article manuscripts which focus on the interactions between nature, culture and society, or are in the general thematic areas of science and technology studies or critical studies of medical knowledge and practice. Contributors are encouraged to employ any form of rigorous theoretical and methodological approach, not limited to ethnography, historiography and textual analysis.

update: the link now works

via Museumfreak

February 1, 2006

Your daily geek

Category: F/OSS,Hackers,Humor — @ 2:43 pm

Want your daily geek?

Then check out this entry by Og så alligevel… on humor and stories on the Internet.

And check out a newish blog on free software news by Samir Chopra and Scott Dexter, two computer scientists from the NYC area who are now writing a book on ethics, licensing and free software for Routledge.

A Doctor’s Fight, More Forced Mental Health Care

Category: Health,Politics,Psychiatry — @ 11:56 am

The Wall Street Journal has published an informative article A Doctor’s Fight, More Forced Mental Health Care, on new legal and health care delivery trends targeted at those diagnosed with severe mental illness. The man behind the changes is Dr. Torrey, and his main line of argument is that forced treatment keeps those with mental illness from acting out violentally and thus makes for a safer society. The artlice could have given more ample voice to those who oppose these laws. But it does give a sense of the stakes and the ethical problems behind forced drugging.

Since WSJ requires subscription, you can find portions of the article here