I read Wired.com a lot.
I read an article yesterday or the day before or whenever at Wired.com, an interview with the writer Clay Shirky. He was talking about an interesting concept dubbed “open-source environmentalism”. He was basically talking about Wikipedia as an example of open-source action and how it’s fascinating to see the possiblity of applying that sort of organizational power to something like SAVING THE FUCKING PLANET.
What’s open-source? Well, now see, that depends. From what I understand, the application of the term “open source” to something implies a lack of conventional organizational/governing structure within some sort of grouping, allowing for the resources and materials that make up the group (or the group’s resources) being free for anyone and everyone to use. Open-source software applies this in being free (the sort of stuff that gets legitimately released online for free to be shared and used by all, that sort of thing). So how’d this apply to Wikipedia and environmentalism and, of all things, Facebook?
He basically says that Facebook is the perfect sort of open-source platform for mass action like organizing environmentalism and stuff like that, and that Wikipedia proves that such actions work because after all, Wiki is contributor-controlled to a large. And despite the fact that people will never get anything done just being behind computer screens, that we definitely have the tools for this sort of thing at our disposal. We’re just stupid for a second.
There’s a big hooplah going on over Fox’s dispute with the Watchmen movie and their claim that they own the rights and that Warner Bros. have no right to go forth with the movie. What’s REALLY interesting is that despite Fox being really serious about this, online buzz is growing with fans, and a serious boycott of Fox movies if this goes through is in works.
Could you imagine if the nerds stayed away from the The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, Max Payne (a fucking video game movie that needs all the support it can muster from fans to go see it) or that Vin Diesel movie where he plays Riddick but not Riddick but still some sort of fighting badass in the future? Movies that are heavily leaning on needing geek dollahs to stay afloat, a trend that these days seems to be dying down (the oversaturation of insanity that overtook San Diego Comic-Con, anyone?), with their core expected audience staying away in droves to protest the shutting down of Watchmen…
Maybe I’m just being naive and misunderstanding the proper applications here, but this just seems to me to be entirely what Shirky’s talking about. An actual real-world application of open-source action, with collective organization helping to make it happen and it’s desired effect having a major real-world implication against others. I know it’s not as awesome as saving the ozone, but still, I’d like to think that if we could organize a mass protest against movies by a particular studio (and I saw “we” in the sense of defining myself as a total fucking nerd), then how much harder could it be to find out how to apply those tools to other “grandiose” things? Could we defend Net Neutrality? Keep Roe v. Wade alive despite the efforts of the conservative Right in the US? Or even, dare I say it…get widespread support and usage of alternative energy sources in use in the world to save the environment?
I wonder what I should get for lunch.