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ERIC Number: EJ767144
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 25
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0033-5630
Socio-Technical Deliberation about Free and Open Source Software: Accounting for the Status of Artifacts in Public Life
Benoit-Barne, Chantal
Quarterly Journal of Speech, v93 n2 p211-235 May 2007
This essay investigates the rhetorical practices of socio-technical deliberation about free and open source (F/OS) software, providing support for the idea that a public sphere is a socio-technical ensemble that is discursive and fluid, yet tangible and organized because it is enacted by both humans and non-humans. In keeping with the empirical shift manifest in recent public sphere scholarship and Bruno Latour's idea that socio-technical deliberation is characterized by the inscription of non-humans, I describe the rhetorical manners in which volunteer citizens define and mobilize a mundane artifact--a web site--in a deliberation over the value of F/OS technologies for their government-funded project. Through inscription of the web site as a rhetorical resource and as the embodiment of their disposition toward computer technologies, the volunteers formed and expressed competing understandings of the role of F/OS technologies in sustaining a public sphere. I argue that these competing views are consequential, for they link technical artifacts and political agents in practice, by way of aspirations, obligations, and forms of authority. Furthermore, by claiming a form of agency for technologies in the public sphere, the proponents of F/OS technologies are inviting scholars of the public sphere to question the status assigned to technical artifacts in their investigations and theories of the public sphere. (Contains 1 figure, 1 table, and 65 notes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada