[iDC] recursive publics and forking

Samuel Rose samuel.rose at gmail.com
Sun Jul 12 15:13:30 UTC 2009

Nate, thanks for your reply, you write:

>There is obviously a whole spectrum of reasons for forking,
> but in this discussion we were focusing specifically on those oppositional
> instances.

Sure, and there were some great points made by you within this scope.


"While forking is "legally and technically" possible, it is often highly
unrealistic and I think this complicates the notion of consensus. Part of
Spehr's idea in Free Cooperation is that not only must contributors be free
to quit the collaboration, but importantly the cost of leaving for all
members must *similar and bearable*. This is clearly not the case with the
projects CK describes as recursive publics. There is always more at stake
for some members than others; more important contributors and less important
ones. Further, the modular or 'granular' structure of many of these projects
means that the people who want to fork will not be able to continue alone
(as they do not have the diverse set of knowledges and skills required).
This would leave the option to exit, but not of forking, or the option of
remaining, but not of consensus. A possible third option might be to leave
and seek new allies (in the Latourian sense, of gaining allies - new
members, converts, new software etc. - to increase the 'reality' or in this
case feasibility of the fork). Once again though, the position of the
fork-initiator in the original project would, I imagine, greatly impact the
chances of success here. (That is, the asymmetries in the original project
would carry over. For example, Larry Sanger might be able to fork Wikipedia,
but the chances that I would be able to do it are much smaller. I would say
zero! The chances of Jim Wales starting a fork might be greater again. The
point however, is that each person is in a different position in relation to
the project.) I should also note that this is as much a critique of Spehr's
thought here, as I'm yet to find a situation where his  "similar and
bearable cost" have been satisfied or could even be worked out. (Admittedly,
Free Cooperation is more a manifesto than a mapping of the present.)"

Sam continues :

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