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Creating democratic technology for societal change: How Open Source practices can influence the negotiation of technology among activists.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

As the digital transformation and the technological development progresses, the tools, methods and practices of activistsare changing and a unification of engineers and social reformers can be witnessed in contemporary forms of activism.This thesis presents a case study research that explores how practices from the Free and Open Source softwaremovement can lead to a democratisation of technology in the environmental activism project Precious Plastic.Furthermore it analysis the broader societal implications of this democratisation with a focus on human well-being andthe natural environment. By discussing Kelty’s (2008) concept of recursive publics and Haff’s (2018) work on OpenSource as a development model in the context of Feenberg’s (1992) critical theory of technology, central Open Sourcepractices were identified that have the potential to foster a democratisation of technology. This guided a qualitative textanalysis of the development discussions of two phases of Precious Plastic. Two major factors could be identified thatdetermine the extent to which the democratisation of technology through Open Source practices is possible. Theopportunity to contribute to a project and the power of a central gatekeeper. Other aspects, like an increased sense ofbelonging, the discussion of the own infrastructure and the projects future, or the efforts to involve as many actors as pos-sible in the technology, were found to have fostered a deeper and broader discussion among the participants. This studysuggests to extend the term Open Source activism (Aitchison and Peters, 2011), to describe a form of activismthat has the creation of technology at its core and brings together a variety of actors with similar practices who negotiateand shape the aim and the purpose of technology, leading to an increased compatibility of the technology with ournatural and human limits. However, this concept needs to be refined and improved with further studies before it can begenerally applicable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 83
Series
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 2019/46
Keywords [en]
Sustainable Development, Activism, Democratisation of Technology, Critical Theory of Technology, Open Source, Free Software Movement
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-391510OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-391510DiVA, id: diva2:1345275
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
Presentation
2019-05-23, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 13:28 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-08-29 Created: 2019-08-23 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved

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