Krystian Woznicki on 13 Jul 2001 16:48:15 -0000

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Re: Fwd: [rohrpost] Open Source Novel by Douglas Rushkoff


nachfolgend die vollstaendige Version des Guardian-Artikels,
um DRs Sicht der Dinge vielleicht etwas besser
herauszuarbeiten. Voranzustellen waere noch,
dass es ja tatsaechlich nur um einen kleinen
Teil geht, der modifizierbar ist (Fussnoten) -
der Begriff OS-Novel demnach auch in diesem
Sinne missverstaendlich ist.




 >Amateurs Once More< by Douglas Rushkoff

The internet is for amateurs. No ­ that¹s not an insult, but high praise.
ŒAmateurs,¹ by definition, do what they do for the love of it. Because it¹s
fun, social, enriching, transformational, evolutionary, or even just
beautiful. Now that the investment community sees the net is seen as more of
a lame duck than a cash cow, the only ones left out here (or the only ones
that should be) are us amateurs.

How dare I raise myself to the same level as amateurs? I get paid for most
of what I do online. Doesn¹t this make me a lowly professional? I say Œno.¹
The point is to do what we do online because we love it ­ whether or not
someone agrees to pay us. Anything done in this very transparent medium for
any other reason gets exposed. It¹s as if the more active mindset we use to
navigate internet allows us to detect the intentions of its many posters and
publishers. If there¹s no real passion for anything but revenue, we know it.
We can smell it.

But maybe some of us have our BS detectors on too high. So much of the
online space is basically a business plan of one kind or another, that we
don¹t expect any Œprofessional¹ effort to have amateur roots. This is a
shame. And I¹ve gotten a taste of it, first-hand.
I¹m in the process of releasing my book, ŒExit Strategy,¹ online as an open
source novel. (It¹s already been published as printed novel, ŒBull,¹ in the
UK.) It¹s going up on Yahoo Internet Life¹s web site
( in 14 weekly installments. The story I wrote is
merely the starting place for what I hope will be a lively interaction
between everyone.

The premise is that the entire text was written in present day, but then
hidden online and only discovered 200 years from now. Because society has
changed so much, an anthropologist has annotated the text for his 23rd
Century contemporaries. They are no longer familiar with notions such as
venture capital or advertising, much less Microsoft or NASDAQ.

The project is Œopen source¹ in that all the online participants get to add
their own footnotes to anything in the book ­ even footnotes to the
footnotes. It¹s a way to pretend how people from the future will relate to
our current obsessions. Instead of describing that future, though, we get to
suggest what it will be like by highlighting the facts and ideas that future
readers *won¹t* understand. We¹ll all be part of the annotation process, and
comment on one another¹s work. Then next year, I¹ll release an open source
edition of the text ­ an e-book and print-on-demand - with 100 of the most
compelling footnotes added by readers. I¹ll buy the authors copies of the
book, and throw them a party in New York.

But how do you feel right now reading about this? Are you thinking,
ŒRushkoff¹s got a good idea, there,¹ or are you thinking Œhow dare Rushkoff
promote his online scam in his column!¹ And there¹s the problem. It¹s why I
wrote the book, actually, and it¹s the challenge I¹m facing in talking about
it with the press.

The journalists who have interviewed me about the open source project, with
very few exceptions, can¹t see it as anything but a covert business plan.
They find it hard to believe that no one is paying me for the web project,
or that people will really be able to read the entire book, online, for
free. They think there must be a catch. Why would a successful author bother
to distribute his work online for free when he could get real money for it
in print? Even Stephen King charged money for his online works (and then
quit before he was done).

It¹s precisely because I¹m a successful author that I can release a book for
free. I¹ve got a roof over my head and another proposal under my arm. I can
make a living even if I give away a book or two along the way. And, if we
really want to play Œname my business plan,¹ my guess is that the final
print-on-demand version of the open source book will do just fine, thank you
(even though, so far, no traditional US publisher has dared to make an offer
on a book that will be released, for free, online before it is released in

So, if you need a market justification for what I¹m doing ­ with my book or
with this column ­ use that one. But you¹ll be missing the point of both.
The interactive mediaspace is offering us something so much more precious
than profit, and more authentic than authorship. It¹s an opportunity to play
and collaborate. That¹s the theme of my book, the reason it¹s going online,
and the reason I¹m telling you about it here: because people are so trained
to associate the internet with business plans that they can¹t think of the
internet any other way, even though the speculators have all set sail. Alas,
it¹s a troubling legacy they¹ve left in their wake.

We¹ve forgotten what made this medium so truly sexy to begin with. But don¹t
worry, we still have it in our power to be reborn as unqualified amateurs.
Then we can fall in love all over again.

At 12:30 13.07.01 +0200, you wrote:
>Am Fri, 13.Jul.2001 um 11:12:08 +0200 schrieb Krystian Woznicki:
> > Hallo,
> >
> > hier der Link zu meiner just erschienenen Diskussion dieses Projekts
> >
> >
>Du schreibst es im letzten Absatz des Artikels, aber man könnte die Kritik
>noch härter formulieren: Rushkoffs Buch hat mit "Open Source" nichts,
>aber auch gar nichts zu tun außer der Buzzword-Kompatibilität. Rushkoff
>scheint "Open Source" gründlich mißverstanden zu haben.
>"Open Source" ist keine Entwicklungsmethode und sagt daher nichts
>darüber aus, ob Software offen oder geschlossen - von Individuen
>oder exklusiven Zirkeln - geschrieben wird. Neben solcher Software,
>die relativ offen entwickelt wird wie z.B. der Linux-Kernel oder die
>Debian-Distribution, gibt es auch "Open Source"/Freie Software von
>geschlossenen Entwicklerteams, so z.B. XFree86, Free/NetBSD und die
>meisten GNU-Programme.
>"Open Source" bzw. "Freie Software" ist de jure ein Überbegriff für
>Software-Lizenzen, die den Nutzern weitgehende Freiheiten einräumen:
>1. Die Freiheit, eine Software beliebig und kostenfrei zu kopieren;
>2. Die Freiheit, den Quellcode der Software einzusehen, zu kopieren
>    und zu modifizieren;
>3. Die Freiheit der kommerziellen und nichtkommerziellen Distribution,
>    verbunden mit der Pflicht, keine Nutzergruppen (z.B. Firmen,
>    aber auch z.B. das Militär) auszuschließen.
>Formal sind diese Freiheiten in der "Open Source
>Definition" der Open Source Initiative festgeschrieben
><>. Rushkoff erwähnt an
>keiner Stelle, unter welcher Lizenz die kollektiven Fußnoten seines
>Romans gestellt werden sollen. Die Open Source Initiative sollte
>handeln und Rushkoff dazu auffordern, dies entweder im Sinne der Open
>Source Definition zu präzisieren oder aber das Attribut "Open Source"
>zu streichen.
>Der Name "Open Source" ist, wie ich finde, schon unpräzise genug und
>birgt zahlreiche Verwechselungspotentiale: mit offenen Standards, mit
>frei einsehbaren, aber proprietär lizenziertem Quellcode und nun auch
>mit offenen Entwicklungsprozessen. Gedankenlose Appropriationen à la
>Rushkoff verwässern ihn völlig und tragen damit dazu bei, daß pseudofreie
>Lizenzierungsmodelle wie Microsofts "Shared Source" oder Suns "Community
>Source" künftig unwidersprochen auch als "Open Source" firmieren.
>GnuPG/PGP public key ID 3D0DACA2

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