Open Source vs Proprietary Thinking in Neoliberal Times

In Open Source Studio: Studio of Now: The argument that “… copyright laws… can be the enemy of the common good when they stifle creativity and collective modes of production”, compels me to think of proprietary tools like iMacs and Adobe Connect that have been used at ADM and major universities to foster creativity, and collaborative learning and production.

Owing to the richness of creative expression through the ubiquitous use of proprietary tools (even in the case of unlicensed use of software) today, I wonder if in an alternate universe where  the way of open source replaced the commodification of technology, whether creativity and collective modes of production would be radically advanced.

I ask this because of the increasing commodification of art and education (and educational technologies) in neoliberal societies such as Singapore.

Would the accountability regime within the performative paradigm undergirding neoliberalism, still compel self-serving programmers and creatives, manoeuvring the micro-politics of organizational power and control, to develop open source technology to same level that Adobe, Microsoft & Apple have, and magnanimously share this technology for free, as one would hope? Would competition make open source, ontologically and epistemologically tenable for both the programmers and non-expert end-users?

Perhaps only in a utopian (or dystopian) society, where homo economicus (or the rational economic man in Economic theory) renounces the pursuit of wealth for self-interest (much like the proverbial irrational struggling independent artist), and where collaboration rather than competition is the predominant modus operandi of organizations, and in which learners and teachers are collectively evaluated and appraised, would the way of open source vanquish proprietary thinking.

Observations: Adobe Connect Session 1, September 10

Descriptive Notes (followed by reflective notes)

  1. 4 out of 6 learners were eating and drinking on camera. Chewing was amplified online. L1e only started eating after seeing the rest eating online. L1e did not eat onsite in previous weeks. (Computer mediation appears to lower inhibition to engage in extra-curricular activities)
  2. Learner 5b (L5b)—dressed in a high contrast black and white striped long sleeve blouse—participated in Adobe Connect sessions in the previous semester, and slouched against her chair (appears the most relaxed, possibly because of her prior knowledge and experience with web conferencing with the tutor)
  3. The 6 learners demonstrated an internal script that required them to click on a new tab, to play video prescribed by tutor. (When the first video was launched by tutor, I was waiting for the video to pop up on my screen, and was unaware that it was already open in another tab. Only after some time, did I realize that I had to play it. This is unlike onsite learning, where the tutor controls the video and plays and stops it. One advantage is that the learner can continue playing the video, even when the tutor assumes learners have completed viewing the video, and continues with the lesson)
  4. L4j suggested that learners “try it out”, by attempting to kiss telematically. L4j aborted the attempt to “kiss” L5b. (Computer mediation paradoxically inhibits and disinhibits experimentation)
  5. The chat and private chat features were used throughout the session. (Social aspect of CSCL was amplified with banter that would have been impossible onsite, but continued unabated throughout the session. This playfulness and directness in peer to peer communication facilitates questioning by reticent learners, and peer to peer exchange and clarification without any need for intervention by the tutor, who permitted the boisterous discourse.)
  6. Learners are positioned on screen, according to the order in which they share their webcams. Learners pointed at one another on multiple occasions with a grin, when tutor asked who read what. (Learners never pointed at one other onsite, where they remained in the same seats throughout all 4 weeks. Learners’ position onscreen changes every session, and even during the session, every time they turn off the camera and rejoin the session. The ability to stare directly at learners’ faces is new. It would be impossible for learners to see all faces (including their own) simultaneously onsite. Facial expressions and movements are amplified onscreen. L2a noticed L3p eating a second sandwich—something she did not notice the previous week, when they were seated side by side onsite. What was invisible, is now visible to learners and tutor, with computer mediation. Implications on the affective dimensions of teaching and learning are profound.)