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open_source, 2000

Vivian Selbo


Open_Source is the second installment of Selbo's Web project partsofspeech. While partsofspeech addresses issues of digital communication and identity, Open_Source toys with the psychological dynamic of "investment" in the worlds of open-source software development and chat. The contrasting forums of open-source software and chat reveal different manners of engagement. On one hand, open-source software development has been called a high-tech gift economy. It has dedicated participants and well-defined parameters of valuation, including reliability, robustness, scalability, and forgiveness. Chat, on the other hand, is largely a token economy, often transient and noncommittal. Open_Source investigates these two arenas and their intersections within a metagame labyrinth, including live chat, real-time graphical analysis of "progress," and other signposts of gaming. Selbo's work invites the user to question how societal norms govern and inform open-source software and chat structures, how software design caricatures social forms and, in the end, what is at stake in different economies of interaction.

Walker Art Center Calendar, Open_Source, February 2000.

G9 launch: April , 2000
credit line: Commissioned by Gallery 9/Walker Art Center through a grant from the Jerome Foundation. The Fog chat was originally created by Hannes Wallnöfer who generously offered the source code.
  status: host