Grump grump grump. I’m stuck at about the halfway point through the first draft of the final chapter — trying really hard to integrate open source practices with the rhetoric of the affective, trying really hard to figure out how to synthesize Benkler’s and Lindquist’s ideas of the personal dimensions of economic self-selection in the context of writing projects, and I know I need to write my way through it but right now it’s really huge and abstract and vague — so I’m switching gears and going back to previous chapters in heavy-duty revise revise revise revise revise revise revise revise revise mode (which I need to do anyway) in order to use that conceptual backtracking to shake loose the specifics of how I want to conclude.
I think one way I’m getting sidetracked is in wanting to explicitly contrast market-based economic approaches to open-source practices, and they’re not necessarily opposites or even all that opposed. My frustration, I think, comes from the ways in which laissez-faire free marketeers rhetorically construct markets as highly efficient self-organizing systems and then make the specious argumentative extension that all highly efficient self-organizing systems must be some species of market.
Nope. Doesn’t work that way, and folks who think it does clearly failed Logic 101 (and, yes, I’m aiming at a specific rhetorical target here, but I’m not willing to be much more specific until something I’ve got in the works sees publication): arguing that all schoolbuses are yellow is fine and good, but it does not mean that every yellow thing can be called a schoolbus. Open-source practices, as the work of Yochai Benkler indicates, can constitute highly efficient self-organizing systems, but that hardly means that they’re market-based systems — and the rhetorical invocation of the “marketplace of ideas” in economic argument is nothing more than the intellectually sloppy application of a bad metaphor: do you buy ideas like you buy artichokes?