Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The last fades of snow are melting in the garden and something approaching a British springtime feels as though it could be around the corner. I have heard Berlin endures nice spring months, which is just as well. Nowhere have I heard as many people claiming to be profoundly affected by a climate as I have in Berlin. There appears to be something about the endless dreariness of it all that seems to truly grind people down, to wear them into the pavements and slush and carry them into the stern winds. Perhaps I am too excited by the sight of snow each time that it falls, that I am regularly purged of my negative weather angst.

So, that's the weather dealt with. Cara visited this weekend, ostensibly travelling over to write a manual on FLOSS. The other Adam (as he is known, this is not an obscure reference to my own alterity) galvanised a little book-sprinting troupe of post-transmediale remnants and flickers. We new friends occupied a table in a busy café in Mitte and drunk endless amounts of thick, strong coffee whilst working on writing a 'how to' guide for streaming an event with free software.

The collaborative move towards knowledge sharing would have seemed peculiar to me some years ago – the idea of sharing 'trade secrets' was frowned upon. Of course, there are no secrets and none of this knowledge is my own. Impossible too to hold this point of view whilst using free software. The overwhelmingly positive aspect of the free, open and libre software movements are their efforts towards a shared knowledge, the core understanding that co-operation and diversification heralds innovation. This keyboard relays information through Open Office to Ubuntu, my open source desktop, not because it is necessarily swifter or more attractive, but because using these programs is putting into practice decades of cumulative, collaborative thought. In some way, I would like to be able to express the notion of this computer and its applications as a novel of sorts, but one that can shape the world that attempts to read it.

Without meaning to sound too eulogistic - even though that is my default - the migration, osmosis and sharing at the heart of FLOSS creates a genuine third way in which the rewards for co-operative work reap personal and social dividends.

There could be a feasible departure in my reading towards this. Systemic reform is proposed daily in newspapers following the economic collapse; this is surely a model that has scope. One can contest that the internet is built on free software, some of the most popular applications are now open source and that websites are becoming increasingly dependant on free CMS. There is a real philosophical argument present within these daily exchanges that can be applied to the markets, to social justice and to governance. Can it be that a system rewards the individual for socially beneficial collaborative activities? Does it hold real weight in these times? Can everyone win?

And, of course, the blindingly obvious fact is that people live in this way already, quietly existing in both worlds, making use of the benefits of both. In fact they'd suppose that there are not in fact two worlds. To state such a thing sets up an opposition where there is nothing to oppose – indeed, where are your markets now? Opposition in this sense is political and therefore (by association) negative, reductionist, reactionary, divisive and tiring. There is no need or room for techno-fascism or postmodern Luddites here; people are simply, silently getting on with the business of engagement and development. The word sustainability was lost some time ago, but holds echoes here. A new lexicon needs to be used - what may we call a balance achieved between personal gain and communal progression? The word invokes symbiosis, ecology, a set of equal scales where giving and taking are equal and yet we still move forward. The word is not there yet, not in my mind.

For today, there is little left to say and the energy that I have to say it has gone. This week I will continue preparations towards moving to the new house, lining up some professional work, and I should, should, begin novel edits after some fine criticism from my oldest friend.

Tonight I play with Wieland and Klaas, in our tapes, oscillators and manic drum filters outfit. We play only for beer money and adoration, and only the first of these will actually materialise.

Tomorrow, the weather will no doubt continue to be the weather, and of the utmost interest to me. This is the four-hundredth post to be archived on this particular blog (some two years are lost to other blogsites, hopefully soon to be retrieved in xml). Feel free to browse the archives at the bottom and investigate over four hundred days of inane commentary on weather, rain, wind, hail, snow and Blanchot.

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