The open source movement has established o … The open source movement has established over the last decade a new collaborative approach, uniquely adapted to the Internet, to developing high-quality informational products. Initially, its exclusive application was the development of software (GNU/Linux and Apache are among the most prominent projects), but increasingly we can observe this collaborative approach being applied to areas beyond the coding of software. One such area is the collaborative gathering and analysis of information, a practice we term "open source intelligence". In this article, we use three case studies-the nettime mailing list, the Wikipedia project and the NoLogo Web site-to show the breadth of contexts and analyze the variety of socio-technical approaches that make up this emerging phenomenon.hes that make up this emerging phenomenon.
As a distinct practice, Open Source Intell … As a distinct practice, Open Source Intelligence is still quite young and faces a few challenges.
First, there is the issue of scale. Compared to traditional broadcast media, OS-INT projects are still very small (with the exception of slashdot, which has about half a million registered users) . Since scale and exposure significantly affect the social dynamics, growth might not come easily for many projects.
Second, there is an issue of economics. Most OSI-INT projects are pure volunteer projects. Resources are donated. Wikipedia, for example, depends on Bomis Inc. for hardware and bandwidth. NoLogo.org is financed through royalties from book sales. Most OS-INT project have not yet produced any revenue to cover some of the inevitable costs. So far, they have quite successfully relied on donations (from sympathetic individuals, corporations or foundations), but prolonged crisis of the Internet economy does not necessarily make it easier to raise funds, which becomes more important as the projects grow in size and the infrastructure/bandwidth needs increase.
Compared to traditional production and publishing models, OS-INT projects take part to a large degree outside the traditional monetary economy. Contributors, by and large, are not motivated by immediate financial gain. However, not all resources can be secured without money, so new and creative models of financing such projects need to be found.
Slashdot, for example, which could rely for a long time on advertisement as a main revenue source, recently had to increase the size of banners in order to keep up with costs. However, it gave users the possibility to access the site without advertisement - in exchange for a small subscription fee.
It is likely that OSI-INT projects, from an economic point of view, will develop into a hybrid involving direct revenues (e.g. subscription, advertisement), goodwill donations and volunteer efforts. How these different elements will relate to one another will change from project to project. There is a lot of room - and need - for creative experiments.
Despite these challenges, there are good reasons to be optimistic about its future. First, the socio-technological learning process is deepening. The platforms and practices of OS-INT are becoming better understood, and consequently the hurdles for users as well as providers are getting lower.
On the users' side, the experience of learning how to deal with participatory, rather than broadcast media is growing. Their distinct character is being developed, mastered and appreciated.
For providers, the learning experience of OS-INT is embedded in sophisticated, freely available GPL software. The start-up costs for new projects are minimal, and possibilities for adapting the platform to the idiosyncratic needs of each project are maximized. The resulting diversity, in turn, enriches the connective learning process.
Second, as the mass media converges into an ever smaller number of (cross-industrial) conglomerates, which relentlessly promote and control their multitude of media products, the need for alternative information channels rises, at least among people who invest time and cognitive energy into being critically informed.
Given the economics of advertisement-driven mass media, it is clear that the possibilities of an "alternative newspaper" is rather limited. OS-INT platforms, by distributing labor throughout the community, offer the possibility of reaching a wider audience without being subject to the same economic pressures that broadcast and print media face to deliver those audiences to advertisers, particularly considering the fact that paid subscriptions allow access to advertisement-free content.
The more homogenous the mainstream media becomes, the more room opens up for alternatives. And if these alternatives are to be viable, then they must not be limited to alternative content, but must also explore the structure of their production. This is the promise and potential of OS-INT.
The range of technologies are as wide as the range of communities, and a close relationship exists between the two. Technologies open and close possibilities in the same sense that social communities do. As Lawrence Lessig pointed out, what code is to the online world, architecture is to the physical world . The way we live and the structures in which we live are deeply related. The culture of technology increasingly becomes the culture of our societyasingly becomes the culture of our society
The Open Source movement has established o … The Open Source movement has established over the last decade a new collaborative approach, uniquely adapted to the Internet, to developing high-quality informational products. Initially, its exclusive application was the development of software (GNU/Linux and Apache are among the most prominent projects), but increasingly we can observe this collaborative approach being applied to areas beyond the coding of software. One such area is the collaborative gathering and analysis of information, a practice we term "Open Source Intelligence". In this article, we use three case studies - the nettime mailing list, the Wikipedia project and the NoLogo Web site - to show some the breadth of contexts and analyze the variety of socio-technical approaches that make up this emerging phenomenonches that make up this emerging phenomenon