Anthropologist Christopher Kelty on programmers, networks and information technology
Kelty has studied the political economy of information; Free Software; cultural aspects of intellectual property law; reputation, trust and exchange in communities of software programmers; and the history of medicine in America. Kelty teaches classes in science and technology studies, the mechanization of thought processes, the history of memory systems, ...
Not all people involved with "hacking" are self-identified hackers. ... Entrepreneurs, visionaries, activists and lawyers are engaged in some of the same social worlds but may not call themselves hackers. In the end, the goal is to investigate the nature of social relations and shared attitudes toward the worlds we live in ... to find what ties people together in a given social world.
... information is not necessarily something that circulates on the Internet. It is something that can be understood socially as existing in a particular time and place through repeated interactions between people.
I also talk about the differences between communication networks and social networks and try to give the students a way of thinking about how one might have both a communication network and a social network at the same time.
... areas like this are quite hard for students to get their head around ...
I like to focus on banal, boring issues like standards, protocols, and IPR because I delight in showing how supposedly arcane technical problems actually turn out to be political.
... IP rights hand a kind of police power over to private bodies. ... The economic justification for the existence of IP is different from the actual uses to which people put it.
Scientists and engineers like to think that the technical and scientific issues can be separated out from the social, sort of fuzzy issues. My claim is that they're heavily tied together.