Il mio lavoro di oggi al Free Culture Forum Ã¨ stato quello di rapporteur del sottogruppo numero 2 del gruppo di lavoro sulle “logiche organizzative e politiche della cultura libera”. Il gruppo di lavoro comprendeva oltre a me una quindicina di altri invitati di vario tipo e provenienza, come Jamie King, David Bollier, Hilary Wainwright, Marco Berlinguer e tanti altri; a un certo punto ci siamo divisi in sottogruppi e a me e Hilary Ã¨ toccata la riflessione sulla seguente domanda: “ma esiste veramente un movimento per la cultura libera”? Ossia: c’Ã¨ un insieme di forze sociali coordinate che promuove l’adozione del software libero, dei Creative Commons, di altre risorse libere e condivise a livello mondiale – oppure ci sono solo tante attivitÃ diverse e indipendenti?
Questo Ã¨ il testo del rapporto che ho scritto, riassumendo la nostra discussione di un’ora: vediamo se vi interessa.
The second sub-working group was tasked with discussing the question: âis there really a Free Culture Movement?â.
First of all it was noted that the answer to this question also depends on what you mean by the term âmovementâ. To this purpose, the approach that we followed was to examine a number of specific cases and to try and find commonalities among them, to determine whether there could be any universal features that could be used to define a single âmovementâ.
In the end, it became pretty clear that while all participants to the supposed âmovementâ adopt similar practices in terms of ways to license and distribute content, not all of them do it with the same purpose and for the same reasons. Roughly, two big groups can be identified: people and environments that see the free culture distribution models as a tool, even for professional and business activities, and adopt them in a utilitarian manner â because they work better than others â without questioning the structure of society and without adopting a political agenda, and people and environments that see the free culture distribution models as an end in themselves, and as a way to promote a political agenda and foster a change in society and economy.
This difference can be also traced back to historical reasons, considering for example the cultural differences between the U.S. hacker culture where free software was born, and the European and Southern social centres where free software was embraced and promoted inside a set of broader political actions.
There was some discussion on whether free culture distribution models embody certain values in themselves, so that even the utilitarian adopters might be unwillingly helping to promote the political agenda of the ideological adopters, and on whether an economic co-existence of free culture models and traditional intellectual property-based models is sustainable in the long term, making the utilitarian approach sustainable in the long term as well. While there certainly are values embedded in the models, it is also likely that if the political agenda of the ideological adopters were to be pushed too far, the utilitarian adopters would disassociate themselves from the âmovementâ – this was evident in recollection of the distance existing between, for example, Creative Commons and the peer-to-peer file sharing movement.
In the end, we made an attempt to identify some commonalities among the several cases of adoption of free culture models that we examined, and among their adopters:
they see value in the act of sharing, though the type of value (political, social, economical or all of these) varies case by case;
they draw on the horizontal, networked, distributed organization typical of the Internet model, and on the lack of hierarchies and centralized validation and authorization processes;
they struggle for acceptance of the new distribution models in their own environments, though acceptance by whom and for which reasons varies case by case;
they tend to become self-aware as a reaction to the threats by established players who want to resist such acceptance, though again the type and motivations of these players varies case by case.
Rather than a âmovementâ, free culture looks like a big square which people are entering and leaving in different directions. The fact that we meet in the square and share a part of our path together may give the illusion that we all move in the same way, but it is not enough to define all of us as being part of a single âfree culture movementâ.