Posts Tagged ‘free’

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Wealth of Networks by Yochai Brenkler

February 25, 2008

Yochai Brenkler’s writings in the “Wealth of Networks” work in favor of explaining the pros of free software and its direct benefit of internet users. The perks include a highly accessible code to all users, enabling the ability to create new applications or existing applications on the internet. Brenkler talks about the benefits that free software provides not only for internet users but for society as a whole. One benefit that Brenkler highlights is the boost to economy that free software provides. Free software is non-proprietary because there is no one owner. Anyone and everyone who makes changes to the software is an “owner”. Since there are many users of the internet already it is inevitable that many users will share this privilege, yielding not one but many “owners of the software who do not gain a monetary benefit from this privilege but rather the freedom to do the things they wish to do. I found this system to be slightly problematic but then I realized that I am the product of a capitalistic world where someone has to be the capital winner. Free software is a refreshing state of mind in the sense that it doesn’t have to be about money, but more about creative liberation without government larks hanging on the back of citizens who want to use the internet to their liking.

I found Brenkler’s writing to be quite liberating because he posed suggestions that free software not only allow people to do what they want, but that freedom in turn promotes human development. Now I am all for the ethnological benefits that the internet can pose on society but Brenkler fails to acknowledge the obstacles that have already inflicted more than 13% of the general US population: the digital divide. At the 7th week of classes I am starting to get annoyed with the authors of these readings because of the fact that none of them have taken three lines of their articles to mention one of the most prominent elements of controversy regarding internet communications. I mean how can one discuss the innovations of free software and its benefits for “ordinary people” when a ot of “ordinary people” don’t even know the ins and outs the internet. Is it truly democratic usuge when everyone can’t phathom the first step to write and re-write code in free software. Some who use the internet for recreational purposes alone can barely adapt to languages outside of their own familiar lingo rather than the complex language of the internet. Did Brenkler consider this? I am starting to think that many authors we have read are representing a wider population of academics and scholars who are avoiding this topic. Maybe we only want the freedom and wealth only for some, rather than for all?

jg