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Two Bits

Cameron Parkins, June 9th, 2008

Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software is a new book by Christopher Kelty that explores the “history and cultural significance of Free Software”, narrating a time line about “the people and practices that have transformed not only software, but also music, film, science, and education” in contemporary society. Released in print by Duke University Press, Two Bits is also licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA license, making the text remixable, reusable, and in general more fluid.

Kelty goes a step further in promoting this exchange of ideas in the Two Bits’ associated website, recursivepublic.net. In an introductory post, Kelty lays the groundwork for his argument, looking at how the Free Software movement has incited ‘modulations’ or how “the practices of Free Software have been used as templates and taken up in areas close to and far from Free Software”. He cites CC as a ‘modulation’ of the Free Software ethos for “music, film and culture” and encourages people to contribute their thoughts and ideas on the matter online in the form of new essays, articles, and opinions, not only remixing his ideas, but riffing off them to create entirely new ones. It will be very interesting to see how this develops, especially in regards to new methods of scholarly engagement. From RP:

But it isn’t all about me: I’m looking for stuff in our collective conceptual space. Articles, published or not, and ideas for projects that come from any of the fields we play in: science studies, anthropology, media studies, history, sociology, legal studies, information studies, philosophy etc. I have a few works lined up that I will try to highlight over the next few months, and hopefully that will give people some ideas about where to take it.

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