Do you know what is meant when someone calls a piece of software “open source”? Because I think the metaphor of open source is exactly what I’m trying to do on this blog with anthropological research.
“Open source” describes software which is both free and for which the source code is freely available.
If that’s goobledegook — imagine software is a cake. Traditionally, you’ve gone to the shops and bought a cake. You’ve been able to use it for the purpose it was made (eating). Now imagine you can go to the shop and they give you a cake for free! That’s what we call freeware – software that’s given away for free. Open source, then, is like going to the shop getting a free cake and being given the recipe. It gives you the opportunity to make and modify the cake for yourself. In fact, lots of open source projects could be described as inviting you into the kitchen and allowing you to comment publicly on ways you’d make the recipe better. It’s about honesty, dialogue, and iterative improvement.
I’m using a blog in an attempt to honestly reveal my anthropological process and working. This is my anthropological source-code.
I talked about this the other week at the University of Melbourne Ethnography Forum. Over the course of this week, I’ll share with you why I think working collaboratively is worthwhile and how I hope to mimic the ethical movements in the Information Technology world toward open-source, collaborative creativity in my anthropological research. You can read the whole transcript HERE, or stay just stay tuned to the blog to get bite-sized portions.