Freenode #live





  • Lancaster University,
    Centre for Science Studies, Department of Sociology
  • Open University of Catalunya,
    Internet Interdisciplinary Institute
  • Guillaume Latzko-Toth,
    Laval University, Quebec
  • Calafou,
    Post-Capitalist, Eco-Industrial Colony


  • Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • History of Technology
  • Media Ecology / Media Archaeology

Technological Sovereignty

“Consumption cooperatives organise themselves in order to establish direct contact with providers, but then, why don’t people self-organise their technological providers, buying the technological support they need directly from them, like carrots?” — Margarita Padilla

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of the market and corporations.”
— Via Campesina


→ Post-FLOSS political horizon for free society


What is IRC?

  • Protocol, software, infrastructure, community, user base…
  • By the users, for the users…
  • Unfinished artefact: open, simple, flexible…


  • 1988: BBS scene
  • 1990: Internet users
  • 2010s: Peer production communities (“peer directed projects”)

Early days

  • Open source, federated, functional
  • Social conflicts around responsibilities
  • Forks all the way down!

Mainstream 1990s

  • Internet users’ default chat device
  • Functionality:
    • Following friends
    • Flirting and dating
    • Filesharing
  • Then:
    • Market differentiation
    • Commercialisation
    • Institutionalisation

Peer production communities

  • Decline in quality or quantity?
  • Since forever:
    • FLOSS devs (OFTC, Freenode, etc.)
    • Gamers (Quakenet, etc.)
    • Blackhats (private networks)
  • Since 2005:
    • Hackerspace members
    • Wikipedia editors
    • Anonymous hacktivists



  • Policing: traffic shaping initiatives…
  • Profiting: datamining business models…
  • “Politics”: internal conflicts and balkanisation…
  • Recuperation: Free Software → Open Source…


The bulk of data being transferred over TP [twisted pair] lines becomes a hackers CB world. High school students and college undergraduates discuss everything from dirty jokes to sex to crashing the VM system. (Nussbacher, reproduced in Condon, non dated).

→ Justifying resources between repression and desire…


Microsoft Comic Chat, Microsoft IRC network

→ MS Messenger


Flexibility → choices → conflicts.
EF Net story ad nauseam.

→ Forks all the way down…


FLOSS ecosystem today: Free licence vs. peer directed project

→ Political clarification?


  • Sponsorship
  • Servers in corners
  • Repurposing



Technical feature with changing affordances:

  • 1988: makes it simple
  • 1990: scales like hell
  • 2010s: keeps masses out

→ BUT resists recuperation!

Current threats

  • Corporate clones
    Slack, Mattermost, etc.
  • “Decentralisation”
    Retroshare, Deltachat, Echo, etc.
  • IRC business models?
    Private Internet Access, etc.

Time machine!

  • Changing technological landscape
  • Challenges of development, maintenance and repair
  • Increasing recuperative attempts


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