What Lies in the Path of the Revolution

Paper by basman, ptchernavskij (2018)

We argue that a form of “digital serfdom” has rapidly grown up around us, where various important classes of artefacts, increasingly essential for everyday life, including participation in political and economic life, cannot be effectively owned by ordinary individuals.

Many of the technological barriers to ownership, especially as regards software, can be seen as embedded in certain questions of “reuse” — one of the central affordances of ownership is the ability to transplant a thing from its original location to a different one, following the desires or person of the owner. For most kinds of software this is possible in only a crude way — an “application” can be installed on one machine rather than another — and with the rising prevalence of rental or cloud-based models for the deployment of software, it is decreasingly possible at all.

If you find a piece of software that does something of value to you, it should be possible to make it your own. This implies that you can keep using it as part of the collection of tools you carry with you, in familiar contexts, or experiment with using it in novel contexts.


  • suggesters: jryans
  • curators: jryans