¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Thomas Streeter’s The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet is now available from NYU Press (and Amazon.com). MediaCommons Press is pleased to make chapter 6 of The Net Effect, “Open Source, the Expressive Programmer, and the Problem of Property,” available for reading and discussion.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The Net Effect makes the case that the internet was developed in the context of a variety of cultural frameworks, including utilitarian market fundamentalism, corporate liberal managerialism, and romantic individualism, i.e. a structure of feeling that envisions the unique individual as an expressive, creative, irreducible force. Previous chapters trace the development of these trends from the birth of the computer counterculture in the 1960s to the harnessing of computer romanticism to neoliberal market dreams in the 1990s stock bubble.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The chapter hosted online here shows how romanticism does not always tilt right, by looking at the case of the open source software movement. It neither takes the movement’s dominant self-descriptions at face value, nor treats them as false consciousness. It argues that non-proprietary sharing is hardly unique to digital technologies, and that much of what has happened can be explained as the surfacing of contradictions that have been embedded in property in general for centuries. But it also shows how the open source movement has done more to unravel the neoliberal faith in privatization than any of the many efforts of political economic critics like McChesney. James Boyle’s excellent critiques of intellectual property law have had less impact than Larry Lessig’s more individualist romantic ones. We would do well to understand why.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 In addition to participating in these discussions, Streeter will be blogging for the next few weeks about some of these issues, and invites comments and criticisms.