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Individual Paper: From Linux to Loomio

Towards convivial software commons

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This presentation will discuss potential ways to produce convivial software technologies for the needs of degrowth societies. Development of software and other digital technologies has been strongly linked to neoliberal or ‘green growth’ agendas (Heikkurinen 2016) and, thus, introducing software into degrowth discourse is not easy.

In degrowth debates, there is typically a tension between more techno-optimistic and more techno-pessimistic perspectives (Kerschner & Ehlers 2016; Hankammer& Kleer 2016). However, even some techno-pessimists regard engagement with software technologies unavoidable. Software is embedded in many devices such as basic medical appliances (e.g. EKG heart monitors) and renewable energy solutions (e.g. modern wind turbines), whose abandonment is hard to justify. In addition, more techno-optimistic voices have advocated the potential of digital technologies in achieving degrowth goals, e.g. in implementing participatory democracy, localizing production and decentralizing energy generation (Giotitsas 2015, Kostakis et al. 2016) .

This presentation does not enter into debate on how much or what kind of software is needed by degrowth societies. Based on the premise that some software is needed, the presentation will discuss how to produce software that can be considered convivial. Herein, my conceptualization of conviviality is based on the matrix of convivial technology proposed by Vetter (2016) and the criteria for convivial software proposed by Mitcham (2009). From the perspective of encouraging conviviality, the dominant software production model is compared with commons-based peer production (Benkler & Nissenbaum 2006) models. I will particularly focus on “traditional” open source development model (e.g. Raymond 1999; May 2009) and open cooperativism model (Bauwens and Kostakis 2014), looking for similarities and differences. Linux operating systems and Loomio decisions making software are used as illustrative examples.


Bauwens, M. & Kostakis, V., 2014. From the communism of capital to capital for the commons: Towards an open co-operativism. TripleC, 12(1), pp.356–361.
Benkler, Y. & Nissenbaum, H., 2006. Commons-based Peer Production and Virtue. Journal of Political Philosophy, 14(4), pp.394–419.
Giotitsas, C., Pazaitis, A. & Kostakis, V., 2015. A peer-to-peer approach to energy production. Technology in Society, 42, pp.28–38.
Hankammer, S. & Kleer, R., 2016. Degrowth and collaborative value creation: Reflections on concepts and technologies. Journal of Cleaner Production.
Heikkurinen, P., 2016. Degrowth by means of technology? A treatise for an ethos of releasement. Journal of Cleaner Production.
Kerschner, C. & Ehlers, M.H., 2016. A framework of attitudes towards technology in theory and practice. Ecological Economics, 126, pp.139–151.
Kostakis, V., Roos, A. & Bauwens, M., 2016. Towards a political ecology of the digital economy: Socio-environmental implications of two competing value models. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 18, pp.82–100. Available at:
May, C., 2008. Opening other windows: A political economy of “openness” in a global information society. Review of International Studies, 34, pp.69–92.
Mitcham, C., 2009. Convivial software: An end-user perspective on free and open source software. Ethics and Information Technology, 11(4), pp.299–310.
Raymond, 1999. The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond. Knowledge, Technology & Policy, 12(3), pp.23–49.
Vetter, A., 2016. The Matrix of Convivial Technology - Assessing technologies for degrowth. Journal of Cleaner Production.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Theater)
Track: Technology in a Degrowth Society



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