Christopher M. Kelty, “The Fog of Freedom”

Why are new information technologies so frequently associated with freedom? Which cultural and philosophical concepts of freedom are central to technology design, use and critique? Why freedom instead of justice, equality or well-being? How was the link forged and why? This presentation will explore the fog of freedom in episodes from the last 40 years of the development of information technology: the development or UNIX, the rise of free software, the appearance of “social media”, cloud computing, and crowdsourcing, and the eternal return of the monopoly tech company.

Christopher M. Kelty is an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a joint appointment in the Center for Society and Genetics and in the department of Information Studies. His research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering. He is the author most recently of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities.

Presented by the Office for History of Science and Technology. Co-sponsored by Berkeley Center for New Media.