open-source: leveraging the power of speculative production ca

wade tillett on 9 Apr 2001 08:59:09 -0000

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<nettime> open-source: leveraging the power of speculative production capital

similar to ibm backing linux, mit proposes to put course content online with ‘OpenCourseWare.’ as with ibm, the open standards system is being used to leverage production capital. i.e. mit is leveraging its research (production) with its education mode. OpenCourseWare serves as an advertisement for increasing production capital. the president is not worried about enrollment because the power is in the production. at the same time, reliance on the traditional hardware(ibm)/degree(mit) is preserved and extended. open-source is not seen as a threat to brand-name, to hardware production, nor to the education legitimacy process of the status quo. the patents, the degree, are still created. they are used as an element of the production discourse. yes, you could claim to have taken the courses online, you could take the open-source tests even. you could even be certified (degreed) by some third-party vendor. but what is your connection to production capital? patents, degrees, hardware, are after-all mainly to increase shareholder confidence, these are back-end and end-user commitments which are by no means disregarded or unprofitable, but which are an essential part of leveraging power, dollars, confidence, to the front end: to a belief in a *future* production, to an increasing operating, production, research budget based on a general public/peer attitude of future production potential. intellectual property is thus a sort of status-builder. yes, much money is made by increasing the patent enforcement. but this enforcement serves to continue the general subversive myth that power lies in ownership. that is, ownership (or ‘non’-ownership) is leveraged to utilize and increase current advantages of production resources. the product is guarded as something of value in order to facilitate further production. the product (be it television, newspaper, mp3, vhs, or education) is distributed (all the better if you can get people to pay for the distribution channels… pay for the hardware, tv, vcr, computer, degree, operating system, but it works as well if it is gpl’d or open-source, so long as the author/producer is preserved) in a manner which increases the power of the product’s producer through increasing confidence in their production capability. the content of a newspaper is an advertisement for the newspaper’s continued and future ability to produce. produce what? its own continued and future ability to produce. the product offers a certain position, a certain audience. no one just sits back and makes money off their ‘intellectual property’ product – the whole business is in facilitating and leveraging a production *possibility*, a perceived *potential*. > MIT President Charles M. Vest has announced that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will make the materials for nearly all its courses freely available on the Internet over the next ten years. He made the announcement about the new program, known as MIT OpenCourseWare (MITOCW), at a press conference at MIT on Wednesday, April 4th. “I have to tell you that we went into this expecting that something creative, cutting-edge and challenging would emerge. And, frankly, ***we also expected that it would be something based on a revenue-producing model*** — a project or program that took into account the power of the Internet and its potential for new applications in education.” … “OpenCourseWare looks counter-intuitive in a market driven world. It goes against the grain of current material values. ***But it really is consistent*** with what I believe is the best about MIT. It is innovative. It expresses our belief in the way education can be advanced — by constantly widening access to information and by inspiring others to participate,” said President Vest… President Vest commented that the idea of OpenCourseWare is ***particularly appropriate for a research university such as MIT***, where ideas and information move quickly from the laboratory into the educational program, even before they are published in textbooks. # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism, # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets # more info: and “info nettime-l” in the msg body # archive: contact: