Apropos Open Source Methodologies

When we first started to circulate the call for taxi-to-praxi some of the reactions which I got in private email were of the kind "open source methodology, what's that supposed to be?" - "there is no such things", " etc. Since that moment I thought aha, we are on to something and I should write something about it. This is now not the all conclusive article, but a forum posting, improvised and unfinished.

It would be easy now to come up with references to the so called "hacker ethics". you can get the basic idea from this wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic
However, although there is an overlap, the hacker ethics and open source methodologies are quite different things. By using the term open source methodologies I imply that this is something that goes beyong the narrow confines of computer software development, that these are methodologies (I quite deliberately use the plural here) which can be applied in reesearch as well as creative processes. It is maybe more closely connected to 'peer based commons production' a term coined by Yochai Benkler (cf. The Wealth of Networks) than hacking per se

Thus, without trying to be normative, nor prescriptive, nor complete, I would say an open source methodology can be something where

* you would lay open the assumptions which go into the formulation of your thesis or research subject as much as you are aware that there are assumptions

* you would rather than making references because you have to or because you feel you are supposed to be quite happy to reference anything that informs your work, people who helped you, ideas and influences, work done by others, etc.

* you would be happy to discuss your work in suitable public fora without fear of your ideas being stolen (because you trust that you can realise your idea still and if somebody share an interest maybe you can work together)

* you, despite the fervour with which you defend your thesis, are keeping an open mind to the possibility that you are wrong and have to start completely afresh and maybe turn around your mind 180 degrees, you are not just waiting for that person to show up but actively try to assume that other viewpoint

Whereas those points so far have something to do with opennness, I think there are other aspects which have more to do with freedom and autonomy. An open source methodology can also mean that you are seeking to

* preserve an open working space which implies a certain ethical behaviour in relation to the tools that you use and the ways that you communicate what you do;

*choose tools which allow your work to be accessed by as many people as possible

* publish your work in such a way that it does not get locked into some proprietary structrue which takes it away from public scrutiny

And while you are doing all that you would try to answer questions, read the fine manuals, stay economic with words, and be measured with your paprika when you cook open source gulash.



referencing hygiene

>you would rather than making references because you have to or because you feel you are >supposed to be quite happy to reference anything that informs your work, people who >helped you, ideas and influences, work done by others, etc.

This is very unclear, which is unfortunate as referencing is the heart of scholarship. (?Substitute "be" for "than" in the first line)

Good reference hygiene involves making a priori decisions about how to record bibliographic detail or online links in advance, which can be painful for those (like me) whose natural inclination is to stravaig first and think about what needs to be shared later.

I never used to get it when I was younger. I didn't understand that synthesis was valuable in itself, whether original or not. Gradually, one learns to surpass one's masters. Of course, if you think something, it can be useful to know why you think that, and to be able to return to the original with ease, for memory is fallible, O yes.

One little example. For twenty years I have been quoting the senseless consumer game Huxley invented in his novel Brave New World as "electro-mechanical clock golf" but in fact, when I reread it recently it was merely "electromagnetic golf", and my false memory probably derives from a joy for physics spilling over into English. Both are good, but Huxley's was the latter.

open paw prints

it's morning and i'm still waking up .. i've read the recent posts by armin and celcrabeels, and noticed there are some new peeps in TNL hood ...

maybe open source methodologies as being explored at TNL .. especially with regards to the circulation of our ideas-in-the-making, and apprehending that we have an audience, even if its just one other sentient being .. could include an open way of sharing that we have read/viewed ppl's contributions, even if we do not wish to/have no head space to ..comment on them via the comments option

in my early morning haze i'm imagining a little semi-transparent stamp, like either an imprint from a ye olde seal ring, or one of those japanese stamps of the characters of someone's name, or the self-stamping cute animal pix that primary school teachers use (ok, i was one in another lifetime)

and these stamps could form into a little visual cloud hovering next to the text/photo/etc that someone has posted...

such clouds could build their own momentum, sticky swarms of digi-paw prints...pleasantly, pleasurefully disrupting the loneliness of the long-distance runners through the nets


Doll, firstly I have to say that I love the idea of footprint clouds/clusters and a system that allows us to visualise categories ( I would love to discuss that with you in the future) but I felt that I had to respond to Armin's comments on methodologies because infact, he has not described a methodology atall.

Armin, what you are describing are a list of methods, the methodology of open source has still to be worked out? I keep hearing this word ‘methodology’ in respect of open-source, and I still don’t know what it means. Do other people know what it means? If you do please tell me!

In my mind methodology is a frame work, an management system (not an application) so to speak, a meta-narrative not a monologue. To quote Wikipedia:
Methodology includes the following concepts as they relate to a particular discipline or field of inquiry:
1) a collection of theories, concepts or ideas;
2) comparative study of different approaches;
3) and critique of the individual methods.

The nearest I can describe a methodology for OS, is as a ‘collaboration’. That seems to have the overall framework that ‘Open Source Methodology’ suggests.
So, if an open-source methodology is a Collaboration, the methods can be described by various categorisations such as
* preserve an open working space which implies a certain ethical behaviour in relation to the tools that you use and the ways that you communicate what you do;
*choose tools which allow your work to be accessed by as many people as possible
* publish your work in such a way that it does not get locked into some proprietary structure which takes it away from public scrutiny

(I have ignored the first section as they are human attributes and ways of being rather than methods, sorry to sprinkle paprika. Of course that could also be up for discussion!)

So how do we compare the study of different approaches? Seminars, discussions, deconstruction of other methodologies? This must also hold fast for the critique... this is where perhaps the human attributes come in? Does then an open source methodology have a certain psyche? Nature or nurture? Background or circumstance? Class? Sorry, but in developing a methodology of collaboration, do these factors not have to be taken into consideration?

Where is this methodology positing itself? In arts, science, industry, socially? If it has to cross all these unique boundaries, which in my opinion it does, it has to encompass a deep understanding of all these things! This IS where the collaboration occurs, in the development of a theory. We are at the beginning of a really exciting thing. MORE PAPRIKA Please!

*just opened a text and this nugget popped out at me, 'Sandra harding defines the word 'method' as a pre-determined technique for the gathering of evidence, but she defines the word 'methodology' as a theory and evaluation of choices about how research does or should proceed'
Artists in Labs, Processes of Enquiry, Scott, J, SpringerWein NewYork, 2006

I think the quote is from the book The Science Question in Feminism, Harding S, Cornell University Press, 1986


open sores and bleeding expectations

ok, this is not really about methodologies...but perhaps related

(or maybe not)

..it's about expectations, *great expectations* of how smart is a phd thesis supposed to be?

after 2 years of stumbling about i have more of a clue about what my research is about (sort of), and this long stumble has involved a lot of reading and some periods of enchantment with writers new to me (like federici for example, and david harvey on neoliberalism, and paolo virno on multitude, and now, walter benjamin)

the books which compel me set the bar of writing/research/poetics/ very high .. and i can't jump so well yet

so....my question is ... just how smart does a phd thesis have to be? a friend said last night, in an effort to console me, that a phd is about 3 books away from a first book ... he said it wasn't meant to be coherent necessarily, that it was expected to be a messy tangle of chaotic thoughts

that pretty much describes where i/m at ... and with 12 months to go i am wondering what is possible to make with this dog's breakfast

it's not something that my supervisors talk about with me, the level of sophistication expected

if anyone has any insights ,,,,, ?!

bring moll back

hi doll

i had my phd ordinance meeting yesterday... and yes i got ordained, uplifted to the higher height of the rocky downward slide to the 'real' thesis. yes likewise it has taken me nearly two years to work things out, but one of the really nice things that one of the panel members said to me was

'i really enjoyed your paper, it had a real honest quality about it'

i suppose that meant more to me at this stage (and probably at the next level too) than trying to uplift my way of writing to some sort of elusive academic ideal. i think the answer to your question is in the very manner that you write yourself... slightly chaotic and very poetic, you situate your methodology in your life and thus your thesis will probably reflect this.... what beauty and individuality!

The situating of research within the particularity of a life… in the most rigorous sense of the term, improvised around an experientially-rooted set of themes that are intensified over time through a combination of affirmation, concentration and repetition. This, in turn, leads to a mode of research that is radically unmethodological while, at the same time, being almost obsessively methodical... (Blanchot)


i seem to remember another comment regarding your moll flanders post and the leeway that you are 'allowed' to take with your thesis... remember if categorised properly, your experiences can be counted as a methodology also. for example the london artist haley newman's whole thesis was a narrative with herself. one of the other students at Dundee, who trained as a psychologist but is doing her doctorate within fine art, is working (i feel) quite ingeniously with accepted social science methodology. her subject is community memory after the 'industrial clearances' in a new post-industrial landscape(a term coined from the original 'clearances' of scotland when crofters were forced out and shipped off to northern america). she is looking at this both from an objective researchers point of view, but also from a personal point of view as she grew up in the area she is studying.

to get to the point, her ingenious method is to transcribe interviews she makes with local folk then re-translates them back to a narrative as a monologue in film. if you look at this from her personal point of view, then she is the storyteller, the oral historian, the bard who keeps alive the narratives and social fabric of the past by telling it her way. if you look at this from the point of the researcher, she is simply translating her data according to the framework and theories she is already working with, just like any scientist would do... the two headed coin, the dual purpose, the poetic option.

perhaps you should bring moll back for an in-depth discussion... maybe caliban would like to join too?