Presented by:


Benjamin Mako Hill

from University of Washington

Benjamin Mako Hill is a social scientist, technologist, and activist. In all three roles, he works to understand why some attempts at peer production — like Wikipedia and Linux — build large volunteer communities while the vast majority never attract even a second contributor. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and an affiliate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science — both at Harvard University. He has also been a leader, developer, and contributor to the free and open source software community for more than a decade as part of the Debian and Ubuntu projects. He is the author of several best-selling technical books, a member of the Free Software Foundation board of directors and an advisor to the Wikimedia Foundation.

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The free software movement has twin goals: promoting access to software through users' freedom to share, and empowering users by giving them control over their technology. For all our movement's success, we have been much more successful at the former. I will use data from free software and from several related movements to explain why promoting empowerment is systematically more difficult than promoting access and I will explore how our movement might address the second challenge in the future.

50 min
SeaGL 2015