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fauno authored and mauriciopasquier committed Jan 19, 2014
1 parent 3e81b60 commit 1dbb81b6a177092519aa0cc36645cc6445691e0e
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  1. +102 −7 atoms_want_to_be_free.markdown
@@ -537,13 +537,108 @@ adversarios del régimen actual de la propiedad intelectual cuando
adoptan la hipótesis del excepcionalismo de la información.


The observation above can be further elaborated on by borrowing two popular terms from the science studies literature, boundary work and boundary objects. The first term was proposed by Thomas Gieryn. He used it to describe how science is separated from non-science by the efforts of scientists to uphold their professional status against amateur scientists and religious contenders. The lesson worth emphasising in the context of the present argument is that the boundary is not naturally given. It does not exist independently of the practitioners' whereabouts. The boundary has to be perpetually maintained, defended and re-negotiated (Gieryn 1983). The second term was introduced by Susan Leigh Star and James Griesemer. Their contribution consisted in treating the boundary not merely as a marker of difference but equally as an interface enabling communication across heterogeneous, scientific communities. The boundary object was plastic enough to adapt to local needs, while robust enough to maintain a common identity across different sites (Star and Griesemer 1989; Lamont and Molnár 2002). The original definition of boundary work does not match perfectly onto the information exceptionalism hypothesis outlined above, but it does a good enough job to bring home my key point. The boundary between informational resources and physical goods is not a given. It must be upheld through continuous work. The exceptionalism of information and the separateness of the virtual realm constitute the boundary object of the campaigners for information commons.


In line with Susan Leigh Star and James Griesemer’s understanding of the term, the vagueness of the notion ”information” is not a flaw but a strength. It is this imprecision, which allows hackers and activists of varying persuasions to communicate and collaborate with each other. This is probably even more important to hackers than to the average science community, given their sharp ideological differences. This corresponds in a way with the observation about the ”political agnosticism” of hackers outlined by Gabriella Coleman (Coleman 2004) There is a less innocent side to this story. As Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star clarified in a later work, the classifications laid down by a boundary object have biases, which validate some points of view while rendering other positions invisible and/or unspeakable (Bowker and Star 1999) . That which has been rendered invisible in the boundary object of “information exceptionalism” can be seen from a quote by one of the chief architects behind the movement for creative commons licenses, Lawence Lessig. After having made a passionate case in favour of that information and culture should be distributed in a commons and free of charge, Lessig reassures his readers that markets and commons can co-exist side-by-side. He underlines that not all resources can nor should be organized in a commons:


"While some resources must be controlled, others can be provided much more freely. The difference is in the nature of the resource, and therefore in the nature of how the resource is supplied" (Lessig 2001, 94).
The observation above can be further elaborated on by borrowing two
popular terms from the science studies literature, boundary work and
boundary objects. The first term was proposed by Thomas Gieryn. He used
it to describe how science is separated from non-science by the efforts
of scientists to uphold their professional status against amateur
scientists and religious contenders. The lesson worth emphasising
in the context of the present argument is that the boundary is not
naturally given. It does not exist independently of the practitioners'
whereabouts. The boundary has to be perpetually maintained, defended
and re-negotiated (Gieryn 1983). The second term was introduced by
Susan Leigh Star and James Griesemer. Their contribution consisted
in treating the boundary not merely as a marker of difference but
equally as an interface enabling communication across heterogeneous,
scientific communities. The boundary object was plastic enough to adapt
to local needs, while robust enough to maintain a common identity across
different sites (Star and Griesemer 1989; Lamont and Molnár 2002). The
original definition of boundary work does not match perfectly onto
the information exceptionalism hypothesis outlined above, but it does
a good enough job to bring home my key point. The boundary between
informational resources and physical goods is not a given. It must be
upheld through continuous work. The exceptionalism of information and
the separateness of the virtual realm constitute the boundary object of
the campaigners for information commons.

La observación anterior puede ser elaborada tomando prestados dos
términos populares en la literatura de los estudios de las ciencias,
trabajo liminal y objetos liminales. El primer término fue propuesto
por Thomas Gieryn. Lo utilizó para describir cómo la ciencia es
separada de la no ciencia por los esfuerzos de los científicos por
sostener su estatus profesional frente a científicos amateur y
contendientes religiosos. La lección que hay que enfatizar en el
contexto del argumento presente es que los límites no están dados
naturalmente. Los límites deben ser mantenidos perpetuamente,
defendidos y re-negociados [@gieryn-1983]. El segundo término fue
introducido por Susan Leigh Start y James Griesemer. Su contribución
consistió en tratar los límites no solamente como un marcador de
diferencia sino igualmente como una interfaz que habilita la comunición
entre comunidades científicas heterogéneas. El objeto liminal era lo
suficientemente plástico para adaptarse a las necesidades locales, a la
vez que lo suficientemente robusto para mantener una identidad común
entre distintos sitios [@star-griesemer-1989; @lamont-molnar-2002]. La
definición original del trabajo liminal no encaja perfectamente en la
hipótesis del excepcionalismo de la información descrita más arriba,
pero hace un buen trabajo en acerca mi punto clave. El límite entre los
recursos informacionales y los bienes físicos no está dado. Debe ser
sostenido a través de trabajo continuo. El excepcionalismo de la
información y la separación del reino virtual constituye el objeto
liminal de los militantes de los comunes informacionales.

In line with Susan Leigh Star and James Griesemer’s understanding of
the term, the vagueness of the notion ”information” is not a flaw but a
strength. It is this imprecision, which allows hackers and activists of
varying persuasions to communicate and collaborate with each other. This
is probably even more important to hackers than to the average science
community, given their sharp ideological differences. This corresponds
in a way with the observation about the ”political agnosticism” of
hackers outlined by Gabriella Coleman (Coleman 2004) There is a less
innocent side to this story. As Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star
clarified in a later work, the classifications laid down by a boundary
object have biases, which validate some points of view while rendering
other positions invisible and/or unspeakable (Bowker and Star 1999)
. That which has been rendered invisible in the boundary object of
“information exceptionalism” can be seen from a quote by one of the
chief architects behind the movement for creative commons licenses,
Lawence Lessig. After having made a passionate case in favour of that
information and culture should be distributed in a commons and free
of charge, Lessig reassures his readers that markets and commons can
co-exist side-by-side. He underlines that not all resources can nor
should be organized in a commons:

En la línea del entendimiento de Susan Leigh Start y James Griesemer del
término, la vaguedad de la noción de "información" no es una falla sino
una fortaleza. Es esta imprecisión la que permite a los hackers y
activistas de varias persuasiones comunicarse y colaborar entre sí.
Esto es probablemente más importante para los hackers que para las
comunidades científicas promedio, dadas sus marcadas diferencias
ideológicas. Esto corresponde de alguna forma con la observación sobre
el "agnosticismo político" de los hackers descrito por Gabriella Coleman
[-@coleman-2004]. Hay un costado menos inocente de esta historia. Como
clarificaron Geoffrey Bowker y Susan Leigh Star en una obra posterior,
las clasificaciones que establece un objeto liminal tienen sesgos que
validan algunos puntos de vista mientras que vuelven invisibles o
inefables a otras posiciones [@bowker-star-1999]. Aquello que ha sido
vuelto invisible en el objeto liminal del "excepcionalismo de la
información" puede ser visto en una cita de uno de los principales
arquitectos detrás del movimiento de las licencias Creative Commons,
Lawrence Lessig. Después de haberse presentado apasionadamente en favor
de que la información y la cultura deban ser distribuídas en un común y
gratuitamente, Lessig reasegura a sus lectores que los mercados y los
comunes pueden coexistir uno al lado del otro. Subraya que no todos los
recursos pueden o deben ser organizados en un común:


"While some resources must be controlled, others can be provided much
more freely. The difference is in the nature of the resource, and
therefore in the nature of how the resource is supplied" (Lessig 2001,
94).

> Mientras que algunos recursos deben ser controlados, otros pueden ser
> provistos mucho más libremente. La diferencia está en la naturaleza
> del recurso y por lo tanto en la naturaleza de cómo el recurso es
> provisto [@lessig-2001].

It is in the nature of informational, non-rival resources to be organised in a commons. In the same vein, rival, tangible resources are thought of as suited for markets. It is the nature of the resource which determines if a product is rival or non-rival. While intellectual property is said to create scarcity, traditional property is assumed to be grounded in objectively existing limitations in the real world. By implication, ownership of tangible, rival goods is seen as ”operational”, not to say ”optimal”. The same line of thought underpins Yochai Benkler’s argument,which has been no less influential in shaping the predominant critique against the current intellectual property:

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