Open Source Intelligence

Felix Stalder, Jesse Hirsh
2002 First Monday  
The Open Source movement has established over the last decade a new collaborative approach, uniquely adapted to the Internet, to developing high-quality informational products. Initially, its exclusive application was the development of software (GNU/Linux and Apache are among the most prominent projects), but increasingly we can observe this collaborative approach being applied to areas beyond the coding of software. One such area is the collaborative gathering and analysis of information, a
more » ... actice we term "Open Source Intelligence". In this article, we use three case studies -the nettime mailing list, the Wikipedia project and the NoLogo Web site -to show some the breadth of contexts and analyze the variety of socio-technical approaches that make up this emerging phenomenon. In the world of secret services, Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT) means useful information gleaned from public sources, such as scientific articles, newspapers, phone books and price lists. We use the term differently. In the followings OS-INT means the application of collaborative principles developed by the Open Source Software movement [1] to the gathering and analysis of information. These principles include: peer review, reputation-rather than sanctions-based authority, the free sharing of products, and flexible levels of involvement and responsibility. Like much on the Internet in general, including the Open Source Software movement, practice preceded theory also in the case of OS-INT. Many of the Internet's core technologies were created to facilitate free and easy information sharing among peers. This always included two-way and multicast communication so that information could not only be distributed efficiently, but also evaluated collaboratively. E-mail lists -the most simple of all OS-INT platforms -have been around since the mid 1970s [2]. In the 1980s, bulletin boards, FidoNet and Usenet provided user-driven OS-INT platforms with more sophisticated and specialized functionality.
doi:10.5210/fm.v7i6.961 fatcat:zcpcp3c6uzb7rn2sgknje7ocjy