As a vehicle for passionate participation and, transparent management, free and open source software (FOSS) has become an icon of our time: a synonym for a happier, more productive and democratic way of producing things. But sometimes the progressive image of open source may skate past some of the messier realities. Developing software code is, after all, a different challenge than journalism or music. And hackers are a different kind of social cohort than writers and musicians, let alone the general public.
At a time when our national (and global) predicaments are seen mostly as a matter for economists and policy wonks to solve, historian Roger Kennedy comes forward to remind us of the critical role of art. Art is not just an aesthetic pleasure or indulgence, he insists; it is a way in which people makes sense of their problems. It is a way of re-imagining the common good.