In Graham Meikle’s chapter “Open Publishing, Open Technologies” from Future Active: Media Activism and the Internet, he claims that technology cannot be neutral because it is made by individuals who are (by nature) subjective and possesses certain “in-built politics. (103)” Technology can give us insight into society because it is made by people who infuse the technology they create with their own “values, assumptions, or agendas (103).” Although certain technologies may present themselves as objective entities, Meikle argues, they really must be used with discretion. Further, users should examine the “genesis” of technology rather than solely its effects on users (102).
When Meikle examines “free software,” in which programming codes are available to users for their own use, he presents a more open and honest type of media. Free software threatens the mass media and others who want to “privatize the internet” by allowing users to “adapt” and “adopt” technology (107, 105). Users can adapt the free software in whatever ways they want, so long as they keep the software open to use by other people who want to do the same. Meikle also states that users who do use free software must “be trusted to be both creative and responsible (108).” I like that this media model depends on trusting users to respect the rules of open sharing, but at the same time the cynical part of me thinks this could be unrealistic in certain cases. This chapter raises questions about ownership, and the ways in which internet users and media creators can form the internet into a freer, more accessible realm.
Do you guys think that certain websites should be restricted from offering up free software? Why?