Collective Terms for Learning

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These Collective Terms for Learning apply to the autumn/winter semester seminar Open(?) Source(?), that will run between October 2020 and February 2021.

These collective terms sketch an outline for the seminar. If you are curious to work with the conditions below, you are warmly invited to join the seminar.

  • The seminar will take place every other Wednesday (one session every two weeks) and will happen in various online forms.
  • The seminar will introduce you to open source culture, open licenses and sharing systems. It will introduce you to different artistic and political technological practices working with open source and free software in a transversal way: by not working only on or around technology, but through technology.
  • In this document, we will refer to "open source" or "free software" culture as Free / Libre and Open Source Software (or F/LOSS in short).
  • The seminar is developed in the close proximity of Varia (
    • As part of the seminar, there will be three guest sessions hosted by Varia members: Cristina Cochior, Lídia Pereira, Angeliki Diakrousi and Artemis Gryllaki.
    • Varia is a collective initiative around everyday technology located in Rotterdam. Varia favours, without idealising, Free / Libre and Open Source Software, free culture, open standards, lowtech and DIY/DIWO culture, because they offer the opportunity to shape a different present and leave the door open for desirable futures. Currently Varia is operated by 16 members: designers, researchers, artists, activists and programmers. The group runs a collective-space in the city of Rotterdam, where public events and moments for collective learning take place. Next to that, the group works on collective infrastructures that are available for members, such as a collective server that we run from the space, various digital services such as chat and code repositories, different printing facilities and a set of tools to work with electronics.
  • The seminar departs from the understanding that the world of F/LOSS is messy and comes with different smells and in multiple flavours, such as:
    • Open Source Software (OSS)
    • Free Software (FS)
    • Free/Libre and Open Source Software (F/LOSS)
    • Ethical Source
    • Free Culture
    • Open Access Publishing (OA)
  • [WARNING] This seminar will introduce you to a specific F/LOSS jargon.
  • [EXCITING] During this seminar we will stretch this vocabulary up by reading technofeminism writing, collective documents such as code of conducts, and different conditional licenses.
  • Throughout the seminar, you will bump into:
    • Copyright
    • Copyleft
    • Open Licenses
    • Conditional Licenses
    • F/LOSS tools
    • the organisational modes of operation of Wikipedia (and specifically what role bots play in it)
    • Feminist servers
    • the Fediverse
    • and a few more collective agreement documents like this one [EXCITING(?)]
  • [WARNING] The seminar will both embrace Free / Libre and Open Source Software ánd formulate critical questions.
  • The struggles that this seminar will wrestle with include:
    • the observation that free software currently powers a huge part of:
      • the Internet (such as Apache/Nginx webserver software)
      • network infrastructures such as datacenters (which often run on Linux)
      • 50% of the smartphones in our pockets (those who run Android, which is based on Linux)
      • many algorithmic systems (which use Numpy, Scikit-Learn, Pandas, and many more)
    • the concern that an universal claim of openness does not match the nitty gritty ways in which collectives and communities operate
  • The seminar invites you to:
    • explore F/LOSS culture, tools and open licenses
    • study examples of sharing systems, such as:
      • counter-archives / self-organised archives
      • peer-to-peer networks (p2p) / friend-to-friend networks (f2f)
      • pirate libraries
      • link sharing tools
      • code sharing tools
      • hosting initiatives
    • formulate questions together, such as:
      • How can we escape from the illusion that openness automatically leads to equality?
      • Isn’t open access intertwined with positions of priviledge?
      • If something is open for use by anyone, how can I stop "evil people" from using it?
    • imagine and work towards making Systems for Situated Sharing towards the end of the seminar
      • for which we will be working with Donna Haraway's formulation of Situated Knowledges
  • The Seminar will use this wiki as a online collective writing space, to store the research, work-in-progress and materials that will emerge in the coming months.

Version 0.1, 20th of October 2020