Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Free like speech"

The idea of "Free like speech" as opposed to "Free like beer" references Agre's theories of Grammars of Action in two ways. First, open source software, and for that matter all software and all code-based material exist within protocol: users can customize, manipulate, optimize, and utilize software programs, but only to a certain extent - only as much as the code will allow. Second, though the original intent of "free like speech" probably wasn't to directly reference Agre, this phrase brings to mind the freedom of speech that exists within a grammatical system. We are able to express thought, emotion, create near infinite combinations of articulation - but only within a grammatic protocol. Some structuralists may say that a thought does not exist until it can be articulated: we are therefore imprisoned in the system of grammar (and language) - we are unable even to think without the lens of protocol.

Emily for Matt's section

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