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<nettime> FLOSS Redux: Notes on African Software Politics
Soenke Zehle [c] on Tue, 20 Dec 2005 05:51:09 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> FLOSS Redux: Notes on African Software Politics

A very short piece I wrote this summer to follow up on some of my
incommunicado05 (a conference on ICT and development issues we did at De 
Balie) conversations with Bill Kagai, Guido Sohne, and Joris
Komen; instead of adding gender-and-FLOSS to an already crowded (and by
no means comprehensive) sketch, I suggested they (Mute) also include sth
more comprehensive by Yuwei Lin (which they did). This field is evolving
so rapidly, the notes below might strike some of you as dated already,
but here they are anyway, feedback welcome,


FLOSS Redux: Notes on African Software Politics
M30:: 14.12.05
by Soenke Zehle

The info-technological development of Africa is providing a critical
laboratory for testing the utilitarian and egalitarian claims of the
FLOSS community. The question of whether to adopt a free or proprietary
route quickly expands beyond the immediate consideration of set up
costs. Soenke Zehle considers how FLOSS fares in the competition to be
the fittest 'tropical' technology, assesses different visions of
continent-wide development, and examines FLOSS's own ambiguous economics

The info-technological development of Africa is providing a critical
laboratory for testing the utilitarian and egalitarian claims of the
FLOSS community. The question of whether to adopt a free or proprietary
route quickly expands beyond the immediate consideration of set up
costs. Soenke Zehle considers how FLOSS fares in the competition to be
the fittest 'tropical' technology, assesses different visions of
continent-wide development, and examines FLOSS's own ambiguous economics

With a host of corporations, foundations, and organisations active in
the fields of advocacy and assistance, free and open source software
(FLOSS) has become a dynamic area of info-developmental cooperation. In
the eminently pragmatic approach adopted by many of these efforts, the
intense controversy over free vs. open source software and the extent to
which advocacy should stress freedom over commercial applicability
somehow seems a thing of the past. At the same time, the focus on FLOSS
as an economic strategy of autonomous development within a global
network capitalism rather than a post-capitalist practice of
collaborative creation recalls some of the general ambivalences at the
heart of software-political struggles.1


In many African countries where computer users are not necessarily
owners, important choices are often made by those in charge of
establishing public ICT infrastructures. While many companies and
organisations have chosen to adopt FLOSS on their own, the status of
governments as the largest procurers of Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) means that government action is bound to stimulate
industry in various ways, including the provision of FLOSS training and
support. The recently founded Free Software and Open Source Foundation
for Africa (FOSSFA), currently headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, has
therefore identified national ICT policy and procurement procedures as
major advocacy targets.2 For Bildad Kagai, co-founder and one of its
secretaries, the licensing, localisation, and local skill building
advantages of FLOSS, coupled with 'leapfrogging' technologies like
wireless that help skip an entire generation of expensive
infrastructural investments, offer an alternative to the technological
dependency and resource drain associated with an exclusive reliance on
mainstream proprietary software.

Given the many problems that beset the ICT sector in Africa, FLOSS
advocacy is inevitably tied to political reforms in contracting, public
services, and competition policy, as well as the creation of FLOSS
related employment and business opportunities. Taking advantage of the
organisational dynamic of WSIS and working closely with civil society
organisations, corporations, and international donors, FOSSFA has
created an effective advocacy coalition: Kenya's ICT policy now gives
preference to open source (and open standards) over proprietary
solutions, and FOSSFA also convinced the Committee on Development
Information of the Economic Commission for Africa (CODI) to adopt a
policy that prioritises FLOSS.

This is no small feat, given that many African states have yet to
articulate any ICT policy whatsoever, and FOSSFA is also educating
policy makers across the continent about FLOSS.3 The 2004 Idlelo meeting
in Capetown, co-organised by FOSSFA and the African Virtual Open
Initiatives and Resources Project (AVOIR) at Western Cape University,
was the 'First African Conference on the Digital Commons'.4 Bringing
some 200 FLOSS activists and developers from across the continent
together with international researchers, Idlelo emphasised the need to
shift from the mere adoption of FLOSS to the local development of FLOSS
applications, the use of FLOSS in education, and the development of
non-proprietary open content alternatives. Hoping to be able to recruit
government representatives from all 53 African states, Idlelo 2 has
already been scheduled for 2006.5

South Africa Goes Open Source

The breakdown of Idlelo participants by country reveals the uneven
geography of IT development in Africa: by far the largest contingent
came from South Africa, followed by Nigeria and Kenya.6 South Africa's
influence in the African FLOSS movement is related to its dominance of
the African IT sector at large. But there are other reasons, one of
which is the impact of projects sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth.7
Shuttleworth, a South African celebrity entrepreneur known for his space
travel -- Shuttleworth was the first 'afronaut' -- as well as his
philanthropic ambition, has overseen the development of Ubuntu (an
already-popular Debian-and-GNOME based linux distribution updated in
regular release cycles) and his Shuttleworth Foundation has co-launched
a nation wide 'Go Open Source' campaign.8

Supported by the Meraka Intitute of the South African Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as well as HP and Canonical,
the campaign has included the production of the first ever television
series on open source -- broadcast on public television and available for
download -- and the installation of 'Freedom Toasters', stand alone
CD/DVD burners loaded with the latest FLOSS operating systems and
applications, across South Africa.9 In addition to working on an
'edubuntu' classroom version of its linux distribution, the Shuttleworth
Foundation also works with South African schools to set up FLOSS-based
thin client networks through its 'tuXlabs' initiative.10 And following
the 2005 'Go Open Source Task Team' conference, South Africa's national
policy on free/open source software and open content is now being turned
into an ambitious action plan.11

But is South Africa 'really' Africa? FOSSFA's Kagai notes that ICT
developments in South Africa are not representative of Africa at large,
and some see in the ideas of an 'African Renaissance' less a new
Pan-Africanism than a mere culturalisation of South Africa's own
economic and geopolitical ambition.12 Yet it would be a mistake to
associate less well off areas of the continent with a lack of interest
in digital and network technologies -- a point made years ago by none
other than John Perry Barlow (ex-Grateful Dead and Electronic Frontier
co-founder).13 Barlow had concluded from his own experience of country
life that Africans might have preserved a pre-industrial sense of
connectedness and would want to bypass the crippling effects of an
individualist industrialism to embrace the digital technologies of the
network society. Even after the dotcom crash, his occasionally, albeit
ironically, exoticist travelogue is still worth a read, in part because
much of his 'let's wire Africa' enthusiasm was shared by the initial
wave of international ICT task forces that were to turn the new economy
experience into a fully fledged paradigm of info-development. And it
encouraged Russell Southwood, a former UK management consultant, to
start Balancing Act Africa, already one of the most important
information services on ICT related developments across Africa,
including the failures and successes of FLOSS advocacy.14

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, FLOSS has not been an easy sell. One
reason, suggests Ethan Zukerman, might be the overemphasis on free beer
at the expense of free speech; a reference to Richard Stallmann's famous
definition of free software.15 Zukerman, a co-founder of GeekCorps -- 'an
international non-profit organisation that transfers tech skills from
geeks in developed nations to geeks in emerging nations' -- and initiator
of 'BlogAfrica', believes that many African users continue to associate
'inexpensive' with 'inferior', a legacy of technology transfer and
appropriate technology projects that sometimes amounted to little more
than the dumping of obsolete technology.16 And in areas where
non-licensed copies of proprietary software are widely available as well
as a great deal of corresponding 'street' expertise, comparatively
expensive manuals and a lack of bandwidth for accessing online support
can easily increase the total cost of ownership of non-proprietary
alternatives generally assumed to be 'free'. FLOSS advocates should
stress the expandability, transparency and resulting high performance of
their software instead.

While a growing number of studies make an empirically based case for
FLOSS in general, less is known about the experiences of FLOSS adoption
across Africa.17 One such report has been published by Bridges.org, an
international NGO with offices in South Africa and the US.18 According
to Bridges.org, the availability of the source code is an advantage
actually rarely exploited at the computer lab level, whereas the cost of
software licenses -- the 'free beer' argument -- remains a key concern,
especially evident when these costs are expressed in terms of GDP share.
Among the factors that lower software costs, piracy is the most
important, followed by donations and so called thin-client
configurations that bring back to life hardware generally considered
obsolete. FLOSS, concludes the report, has become a mainstream
alternative. Yet because of the level of expertise required to establish
and maintain a FLOSS based computer lab, it tends to work better in
large projects that have the resources to address the practical problems
of migration, training, and support, in contrast to individual labs that
can simply take advantage of proprietary solutions that are already in

Info-Political Visions

Beyond the issue of appropriate means, how do the local politics of
software relate to competing visions of what 'info-development' is and
should be about? In the larger info-political vision that frames local
decisions over software and standards, questions of autonomy are
central, frequently articulated in response to the hegemonic presence of
corporate software and IT giants. FLOSS advocates have criticised the
most recent wave of international public private partnerships in this
area, for example, because they involve only the usual transnational
suspects. Microsoft, HP, and Cisco are all well represented in the
activities of major development agencies, advertising themselves as
'partners in development' to promote ICTs as the vehicles for 'good
governance' and 'effective service delivery', but also to stake out
their own commercial claims, crowd out grassroots or public sector
alternatives, and subvert South-South cooperation.

Take SchoolNet Namibia.19 Having to work with substantially fewer
resources than the Shuttleworth Foundation, SchoolNet has nevertheless
set up FLOSS-based thin client networks in over a hundred schools,
launched an ISP to offer subsidised internet service, and is exploring
the set up of wireless access in rural areas. Once they had found that
students were a lot more likely to embrace FLOSS than their teachers,
and standard advocacy tools were not doing much to change that,
SchoolNet launched Hai Ti ('Listen Up!'), a comic strip that features
real life FLOSS users.20 Its contractual agreement with schools
specifies that the teams who manage the local computer lab include
students as well as teachers. Yet occasionally, SchoolNet finds that
their FLOSS-LANs remain unmaintained while students use equipment
donated by Microsoft and administered with support from MS certified
engineers. Executive director Joris Komen is convinced that Microsoft
has targeted Namibian schools specifically because SchoolNet Namibia has
become an outspoken critic of the company and its philosophy.21

Commenting on recent agreements between Microsoft and the New
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), Bildad Kaigai of FOSSFA agrees that such deals
work to confine the software choices these agencies can make and
effectively transfer wealth away from an emergent local software
industry. Kagai calls on African leaders to emulate the successful
development strategies of Asian countries instead.22

Other ICT analysts note, however, that African countries will have to do
so under dramatically different circumstances. Yash Tandon of SEATINI
stresses that 'most of the so-called ?technology transfers? ... are
essentially excuses for transnational corporations (TNCs) to take over
local companies, or to carve out a share of the domestic markets.'23
Rather than 'stripping naked' to attract foreign direct investment (FDI)
from the North, Tandon also makes the case for the 'creation of a home
based Domestic Scientific and Technology Capacity (DSTC), including
capacity to undertake relevant research and development, the actual
purchase (as opposed to transfer) of appropriate technology from the
open market, and a transfer of technology, preferably between
South-South, only under certain conditions.' But Tandon also notes that
options exploited by the 'Asian Tigers' are no longer available to
Africa: 'Countries such as Korea and Taiwan, as all other now advanced
economies in history, were able to do it because they disembedded the
technology from its capital base (by, for example, copying intellectual
property, and through reverse engineering), and by creating a 'national'
base for capital. Some countries were able to do this during the cold
war years when the West needed them to fight against the Communist
threat coming from China and Vietnam. ... Since the end of the cold war,
this option is no longer available. ... Now, with intellectual property
rights embedded in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under the Trade
Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), scientific
knowledge has become monopolised in the hands of a few thousand
multinational corporations that use this knowledge to control the
economies of the third world.' For Tandon, Africa has only so many
options: 'It is in this context that Africa must develop its own DSTC,
including a policy on relevant research and development. The R&D policy
must be based on the production conditions in the region, the need first
to produce for the domestic/regional market (only secondarily for the
export market), and Africa's location within the global value chain.'

It seems that third worldist strategies sustained by a generalised
critique of neocolonialism have been replaced by the exhausting creation
of advocacy networks that hold local governments just as accountable as
transnational corporations.24 Yet while visions of Africa's future have
sobered significantly, the emergent dynamic of South-South cooperation
still echoes a tricontinentalist spirit. Brazil's official commitment to
what its minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, has refererred to as a
'tropicalisation' of open source has been a major push for FLOSS
advocacy in Africa. One such example of a South-South technology
transfer was Brazil's support for the adoption and implementation of
open source software for the management of Top Level Domain (TLD)
registries in a number of African countries, a process that will
eventually automate TLD registries.25

An increasing 'post-third worldist' cooperation is visible in other
international info-political fora as well. One example is the campaign
for a 'WIPO Development Agenda' and a Treaty for Access to Knowledge,
supported by a broad coalition of southern governments as well as
grassroots organisations.26 The World Intellectual Property Organisation
is a UN agency whose current mandate is 'the maintenance and further
development of the respect for intellectual property throughout the
world.' In the eyes of its critics, this mandate limits WIPO to the role
of an enforcer of Euro-American positions on intellectual property,
supporting the WTO's Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS) as well as at least condoning the aggressive
'TRIPS-Plus' bilateralism both the US and the EU have engaged in to
effectively bypass the ongoing review process of key TRIPS provisions.27
The access-to-knowledge campaign puts the question of FLOSS and the
struggle over open standards in a much broader context. WIPO defines
creativity in relation to the prospect of proprietisation, as culture is
defined as the creation of private property. The FLOSS controversy, on
the other hand, is not just about reducing the cost of running a
computer lab, but over the implications of its approach to
'commons-based peer production' (Yochai Benkler): i.e. processes of
collaborative creation and an information and knowledge commons actively
enlarged in opposition to the 'second enclosure' (James Boyle)
associated with an ever expanding IPR regime.28

Take the role of FLOSS developers. Rishab Ghosh, FLOSS Program Leader at
the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology
(MERIT), stresses that licensing costs do matter, especially when GDP is
taken into account.29 But another key emphasis in his studies on FLOSS
in developing countries is on the skills-building in FLOSS networks. In
addition to standard developer skills, open source communities address,
almost by default, questions of copyright law and licensing, and
introduce users to new forms of collaborative creation. Ghosh calls
these 'informal apprenticeships' whose social cost is, of course, borne
by individual users, but it is done so voluntarily, and he even
considers the free sharing of developer expertise (often based on
expensive degrees) a form of technology transfer. Most definitely
exploited by employers who often encourage their employees to
participate in FLOSS fora on the job, this voluntarist dynamic is also
the basis of networks of 'roving technology consultants' like GeekCorps
or E-Riders, as well as the collaborative practices of the FLOSS
community at large.30

Info-Political Pragmatism

Ghosh has been a major global FLOSS advocate, and his projects
specifically address the use of FLOSS outside Europe. Yet some of his
economic arguments are based on the assumption that proprietary
alternatives are not locally produced. What Ghosh describes as the
benefits of 'deep access' offered by locally developed FLOSS
applications -- customisation, quick bug fixing, as well as the re-use of
code in other applications -- is exactly how Herman Chinery-Hesse, CEO of
Ghana's successful Soft Tribe, describes his own approach.31 All of
Soft's software is based on 'tropically relevant' code, Chinery-Hesse's
reference to the full spectrum of constraints he associates with local
computer use: frequent savings to disk help deal with power failures and
work offline lowers costs for online access. In the case of Soft's
document management software for the Ghana Human Rights Commission,
storage on remote servers addresses possible interruptions caused by a
change in government. And unlike Ubuntu, Soft's applications are
optimised for the low-end hardware that dominates Ghana's offices and

Soft trains the majority of Ghana's programmers, often left to their own
devices in poorly equipped computer science departments. Yet
Chinery-Hesse thinks that FLOSS would impede the development of a local
software industry, as developers would, he worries, be reduced to
installers of pre-existing applications. His main concern, however,
seems to be possible tampering with the code both by users and
competitors -- Chinery-Hesse fears internal mismanagement and has no
interest in interoperability that could threaten Soft's pole position in
the local software market. Soft rarely releases beta versions, software
does not have an autoinstall function, and bug fixes are not generally
released. Evidence of Chinery-Hesse's entrepreurial pragmatism, he has
also entered into a cooperation agreement with Microsoft, hoping to take
advantage of its global distribution channels to bring an add on from
Ghana to desktops around the world.

For Guido Sohne, a former Soft employee and vocal FLOSS advocate, Soft's
deal with Microsoft is a form of technology transfer rather than a
simple sell-out, prompted by the departure of some of its key developers
without whom their previous portfolio of applications could no longer be
maintained.32 Sohne left in part because Soft did not want to explore
FLOSS-based alternatives to address this development impasse. Microsoft
is there to stay (the new Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre
in Ghana also entered into a deal with Microsoft), but it looks like
Soft's emergent competitors are already relying on FLOSS. So while
Ghana's developer community as a whole has not yet embraced FLOSS, this
is likely to change.

In the current 'Africanisation' of the politics of software, the
proprietary/non-proprietary divide is but one of several vectors.
Perhaps this should not come as a surprise, given the hybrid dynamic of
FLOSS itself. In her analyses of the cooperation between corporations
and the FLOSS community, techno-feminist Yuwei Lin describes this
process as 'hybrid innovation', marked as much by a sense of
interdependence and mutuality as by unease over the irresolvable tension
between commercial and community-oriented practices.33

The dependence on corporate support illustrates the paradoxes of
immaterial labour and suggests that common assumptions regarding the
relationship between FLOSS and visions of a post-capitalist future be
revisited. Often understood in terms of an anti-monopolistic practice,
FLOSS is not, as such, anti-capitalist (GPL-founder Richard Stallman
describes himself as anti-fascist instead). One of the reasons for the
popularity of the FLOSS paradigm is that it appears to be able to
accommodate a wide range of visions of cultural, economic, and social
transformation, from cyberlibertarian views of natural capitalism to the
post-autonomist vision of a coming communism, actively anticipated by
way of multitudinal self-organisation. Countercultural cachet
notwithstanding, the high visibility of FLOSS as a mainstream
alternative to proprietary software is due in large part to the support
from corporations like IBM or Sun Microsystems, and the commitment to
openness reverberates with an info-capitalism attempting to reinvent
itself around concepts of trust and transparency.

And while the controversies over software licenses are so intense
because their clauses redefine what property means in the network
society, not all of FLOSS is geared toward an enlargement of the
information commons. Following the popularity of user-defined license
provisions like Creative Commons, Sun Microsystems has announced its own
'Open Media Commons' initiative to develop FLOSS based digital rights
management tools.34 FLOSS, already adopted by cost cutting governments
across the world, is also easily aligned with state power -- South
Africa's FLOSS and open content strategy includes, after all, the
migration to FLOSS of its prison management systems.35 This makes
one-size-fits-all approaches to the politics of software almost
impossible, even more so in the context of African ICT controversies.

Yet what is certain is that an African info-politics is already emerging
along key faultlines of network-economical conflict, challenging images
of an Africa forever mired in 'tribal rampages' and natural disasters.
And while it is too soon to say what transformative impact FLOSS efforts
may already have had, examples like FOSSFA or SchoolNet show that FLOSS
is not reducible to an imperial voluntarism out of sync with the 'real'
Africa. FLOSS's collaborative ethic is not a post-materialist luxury
limited to those on the sunny side of the digital divide. Instead, the
Africanisation of FLOSS in terms of an 'ubuntu' philosophy of sharing
may soon connect to other collective efforts in a larger Pan-African
vision of renewal. This project driven mainly from below is rarely
included in the sovereign perspective of afro-pessimist prophecies
accompanying the current wave of imperial nostalgia.36 In his
documentary afro {AT} digital, Congolese director Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda
retrieves the story of the Ishango Bone, the oldest known table of prime
numbers, to suggest that mathematics, and by implication the network
society as a whole, needs to be given a new, Afrocentric genealogy.
FLOSS advocacy may not have to go that far. Yet perhaps a discussion of
software politics in Africa should not begin with the question of
software, but with the contradictory images of Africa that linger in the
collective post-colonial imagination.


1 For an account of free software vs open source software in terms of a
struggle over discursive hegemony, see David Berry, 'The Contestation of
Code: A preliminary investigation into the discourse of the free/libre
and open source movements', Critical Discourse Studies 1.1 (April 2004),
65--89, http://opensource.mit.edu/papers/berry1.pdf

2 http://FOSSFA.net

3 Bildad Kagai and Nicolas Kimolo, 'FOSSFA in Africa: Opening the Door
to State ICT Development Agendas -- A Kenya Case Study', SSRC The
Politics of Open Source Adoption (2005), http://www.ssrc.org/wiki/POSA;
CODI, 'Resolutions of the Fourth Meeting of the Committee on Development
Information (CODI-IV)', UNECA Commission on Development Information
(23-28 April 2005), http://www.uneca.org/codi/codi4/codi_iv_report.pdf.
See the country policy tables at: http://www.bridges.org/FLOSS/index.html

4 http://avoir.uwc.ac.za/

5 http://www.FOSSFA.net/idlelo2

6 Derek Keats, 'Idlelo: First African Conference on the Digital
Commons', Final Report to Department of Science & Technology South
Africa (2004), http://www.catia.ws/Documents/Indexpage/IdleloFinalReport.pdf

7 http://www.markshuttleworth.com

8 http://www.ubuntulinux.org, http://www.go-opensource.org/

9 http://www.freedomtoaster.org/, http://www.go-opensource.org/go_open

10 http://www.edubuntu.org/, http://www.tuxlab.org.za/
A thin client is a computer (client) in client-server architecture
networks which have very few resources, so it has to depend primarily on
the central server for processing activities. A thin client network
centralises maintenance tasks on a (remote) server

11 http://wiki.go-opensource.org/taskforce

12 For a middle of the road assessment of the African Renaissance, see
Elias K. Bongmba, 'Reflections on Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance',
Journal of Southern African Studies 30.2 (June 2004). For more critical
views, see Neil Lazarus, 'The South African Ideology: The Myth of
Exceptionalism, the Idea of Renaissance,' South Atlantic Quarterly 103.4
(Fall 2004), 607-28, and Neville Alexander, 'South Africa -- Example or
Illusion?' An Ordinary Country: Issues in the Transition from Apartheid
to Democracy in South Africa, New York: Berghahn Books, 2003, 137-73, 188-90

13 John Perry Barlow, 'Africa Rising,' Wired 6.01 (1998)

14 http://www.balancingact-africa.com/

15 Ethan Zukerman, 'Free Beer Doesn't Sell', Linux Journal 111 (July
2003) http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/6785

16 http://www.geekcorps.org/, http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/

17 David Wheeler, 'Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS,
FLOSS, or FLOSS)? Look at the Numbers!', (May 2005)

18 Bridges.org, 'Comparison study of Free/Open Source and Proprietary
Software in an African context: implementation and policy-making to
optimise community access to ICT' (May 2005)

19 http://www.schoolnet.na/

20 http://www.schoolnet.na/haiti

21 http://tatejoris.blogspot.com

22 Bildad Kagai, 'FOSSFA responds to Microsoft-UNDP Deal' (Feb 2004),

23 Yash Tandon, 'An Alternative View on Technology', SEATINI (Sept
2004), http://www.seatini.org/publications/factsheets/technology.htm

24 Thandika Mkandawire, 'Good Governance: The Itinerary of an Idea', D C
Development and Cooperation 31.10 (01 Oct 2004) http://www.inwent.org/E

25 Rebecca Wanjiku, 'Brazil opens its arms to Africa', Highway Africa
News Agency (05 April 2005)

26 http://www.cptech.org/a2k/, http://www.eff.org/IP/WIPO/dev_agenda/,

27 Peter Drahos and John Brathwaite, 'Who Owns the Knowledge Economy?
Political Organising Behind TRIPS', Corner House Briefings (Sept 2004),
http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/pdf/briefing/32trips.pdf, also see

28 Yochai Benkler, 'Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the
Firm' (2002) http://www.benkler.org/CoasesPenguin.html; James Boyle, 'A
Politics of Intellectual Property: Environmentalism For the Net?' (1997)

29 Rishab Ghosh, 'Free/Libre/Open Source Software for developing
countries: skills, employment and costs', 2nd National Congress on
Software Libre, Buenos Aires, Argentina (07 June 2005),

30 http://www.eriders.net

31 G. Pascal Zachary, 'The African Hacker,' IEEE Spectrum Online (Aug

32 My assessment of Soft is based on an email exchange with Guido Sohne
(Sept 2005). Also see http://sohne.net.

33 Yuwei Lin, 'Hybrid Innovation: How Does the Collaboration Between the
FLOSS Community and Corporations Happen?' Knowledge, Technology and
Policy 18.2 (Summer 2005), http://opensource.mit.edu/papers/lin4_hybrid.pdf

34 http://www.openmediacommons.org/. As the history of commons-based
resource management systems shows, 'commons' doesn't necessarily imply
the free-for-all often associated with it, and it is not necessarily
obvious -- a point made frequently by advocates of indigenous and
traditional knowledge databases, for example -- that 'commons' and
'access restrictions' are mutually exclusive; what emerges instead are
'hybridised' commons that take the information needs of specific
communities into account.

35 http://wiki.go-opensource.org/taskforce/CorrectProj

36 Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of
Independence, London: Free Press, 2005; Seumas Milne, 'Britain: imperial
nostalgia', Le Monde Diplomatique (May 2005). Also see Chris Landsberg
and Shaun Mckay, 'Engaging the new Pan-Africanism', Centre for Policy
Studies (Sept 2005)

Soenke Zehle <s.zehle AT kein.org> teaches transcultural media studies
at Saarland University, Germany

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