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The Moral Economy of Digital Gifts

Dave Elder-Vass

The significance of giving as a contemporary socio-economic practice has been obscured both by mainstream economics and by the influence of the anthropological tradition. Andrew Sayer’s concept of moral economy offers a more fruitful framework for an economic sociology of contemporary giving, and one that appears to be largely consistent with social quality approaches. This article analyzes giving from the perspective of moral economy, questioning the view that giving is a form of exchange, and opening up the prospect of seeing it as the outcome of a more complex constellation of causal factors. It uses examples from the digital economy, in particular the phenomenon of open-source software, which nicely illustrates both the progressive potential of digital gifts and the ways in which they can be absorbed into the commercial economy.

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Editorial

Patrick Lenta

All but one of the five papers in the present volume of Theoria deal with aspects of one of the central thematic concerns of contemporary political theory: the deliberative and participatory arrangements optimal for democratic flourishing. The first three essays are critical responses to Cass Sunstein’s treatment of democracy and deliberation in his timely and important book, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge (2006). Infotopia enquires as to how, in the information age, we may arrive at the best, most accurate information. Sunstein assesses arrangements by which dispersed information is pooled in order to improve collective decision-making. He evaluates competing methods for aggregating information, including surveys, deliberation, markets, blogs, open source software and wikis.

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Hardscrabble Academies

Dorothy Noyes

Current intergovernmental initiatives to protect traditional culture rely on a problematic conception of “community” as its creator/owner. Accounts of distributed invention in open-source software suggest that the network model provides a better description of folk process. But the celebrated “flexible network” of contemporary collective creativity is historically specific. Using the example of festival in Catalonia, I show that those forms we call traditional emerge from inflexible networks shaped by economic scarcity, political constraint, and an abundance of time: “hardscrabble academies.” As traditions move into liberal capitalist settings, they undergo certain characteristic transformations, experiencing contradictory pressures towards dispersal and proliferation, onthe one hand, and codification under particular regimes of circulation, on the other.

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The Gift and Open Science

Henrik Egbert

). Making a similar argument, Zeitlyn (2003) refers to Mauss and reciprocal gift exchange to explain the production of open source software. Zeitlyn stresses that every gift bears a meaning and that a giver remains connected to the object provided as a

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Conceptualizing an Outside World

The Case of “Foreign” in Dutch Newspapers 1815–1914

Ruben Ros

similarity is higher than 0.4, the compared words are labeled as related. This results in a list of word pairs. Once we convert this list into an “adjacency matrix,” a network visualization can be generated in the open-source software Gephi . 32 The

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Steamships to Suffragettes

A Case Study of Interpretative Museology, Public Engagement, and Digital Development

Nicolas Bigourdan, Kevin Edwards, and Michael McCarthy

site as a whole. Initially, this has involved the development of a simple GIS ( Mather and Watts 2002 ). Built around open source software, the GIS will enable researchers to interrogate existing datasets (such as artifact distributions) in new and

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Technologies of Nonviolence

Ethical Participatory Visual Research with Girls

Astrid Treffry-Goatley, Lisa Wiebesiek, Naydene de Lange, and Relebohile Moletsane

networks. Had we chosen to use an iPad, for example, we would have been faced with a significantly more expensive technology, as well as limited open-source software options. Using equipment that is more accessible, we believe, is likely to enable

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Quantities Over Qualities

Metric and Narrative Identities in Dataveillant Art Practice

Amy Christmas

biohackers she “learned how to extract DNA, how to amplify it, and how to analyze it to learn about our own ancestry.” During her undertaking of Stranger Visions , Dewey-Hagborg made available the genetic profiling code on GitHub, an open-source software

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Common Democracy

Political Representation beyond Representative Democracy

Alexandros Kioupkiolis

common-pool resources (fishing grounds, irrigation canals, etc.; Ostrom 1990: 30 ) to common productive assets such as workers’ cooperatives to digital goods such as open-source software ( Benkler and Nissenbaum 2006 ; Dyer-Witherford 2012: 2). What is

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The South African music landscape and the Copyright Amendment Bill

Malebakeng Forere

are stakeholders that are generally supportive of the CAB. These stakeholders are often dependent on free uses of works like those done through entities that are part of the Open-Source Software Movement as well as through libraries and universities