knowledge commons in Bodo 2016


nk that despite being copyrighted and locked behind paywalls, scholarly
texts belong to humanity as a whole, and seek to ensure that every single one
of us has unlimited and unrestricted access to them.

The support for a freely accessible scholarly knowledge commons takes many
different forms. A growing number of academics publish in open access
journals, and offer their own scholarship via self-archiving. But as the data
suggest (Bodó 2014a), there are also hundreds of thousands of people who use
pirate librar


knowledge commons in Custodians 2015


ve scale, that the system is broken. We
share our writing secretly behind the backs of our publishers, circumvent
paywalls to access articles and publications, digitize and upload books to
libraries. This is the other side of 37% profit margins: our knowledge commons
grows in the fault lines of a broken system. We are all custodians of
knowledge, custodians of the same infrastructures that we depend on for
producing knowledge, custodians of our fertile but fragile commons. To be a
custodian is, de facto, to downl


ld, we'll
not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we'll
make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?"9

We find ourselves at a decisive moment. This is the time to recognize that the
very existence of our massive knowledge commons is an act of collective civil
disobedience. It is the time to emerge from hiding and put our names behind
this act of resistance. You may feel isolated, but there are many of us. The
anger, desperation and fear of losing our library infrastructures,


knowledge commons in Mars & Medak 2019


esearchers who don’t have institutional access to scholarly writing and yet need
that access for their education and research, their work and their livelihood in
conditions of heightened precarity:
This is the other side of 37% profit margins: our knowledge commons grows in
the fault lines of a broken system. We are all custodians of knowledge, custodians
of the same infrastructures that we depend on for producing knowledge,
custodians of our fertile but fragile commons. To be a custodian is, de facto, to
download, to share, to read, to write, to review, to edit, to digitize, to archive, to
maintain libraries, to make them accessible. It is to be of use to, not to make
property of, our knowledge commons.) (Custodians.online, 2015)

Shadow libraries thus perform an inversion that replaces the ability of ownership
to exclude, with the practice of custodianship (notion implying both the labor of
preservation of cultural artifacts and the most menial an


2016). On the twentieth anniversary of UbuWeb, ‘the single-most important
archive of avant-garde and outsider art’ on the Internet, the drafters of the letter
followed up on their initial call to acts of care for the infrastructure of our shared
knowledge commons that the first letter ended with. The second letter was a gift
card to Ubu, announcing that it had received two mirrors, i.e. exact copies of the
Ubu website accessible from servers in two different locations – one in Iceland,
supported by a cultur


knowledge commons in Mars & Medak 2017


continuing inspiration Aaron Swartz: “With
enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the
privatization of knowledge – we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?”
(Swartz, 2008).



icy issues.
As a community center, MaMa is a Zagreb’s alternative ‘living room’ and
a venue free of charge for various initiatives and associations, whether they
are promoting minority identities (ecological, LBGTQ, ethnic, feminist and

244

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

others) or critically questioning established social norms. (Net.culture club
MaMa, 2016a)
Please describe the main challenges and opportunities from the dawn of Croatian
civil society. Why did you decide to establish the Mul


usician friends
into opening the free culture label EGOBOO.bits and publishing their music,
together with films, videos and literary texts of other artists, under the GNU
General Public License. The EGOBOO.bits project had soon become uniquely
246

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

successful: producers such as Zvuk broda, Blashko, Plazmatick, Aesqe, No Name
No Fame, and Ghetto Booties were storming the charts, the label gradually grew to
fifty producers and formations, and we had the artists give regul



funding. All the while, that organizational work has been implicitly situated in an
understanding of commons that draws on two sources – the social contract of the
free software community, and the legacy of social ownership under socialism.
248

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

Later on, this line of work has been developed towards intersectional struggles
around spatial justice and against privatisation of public services that coalesced
around the Right to the City movement (2007 till present) (Pra


ltural
policy, technological development, and political activism. Memory of the
World/Public Library project will continue to develop alternative infrastructures
for access, and develop new and existing networks of solidarity and public
advocacy for knowledge commons.
LOCAL HISTORIES AND GLOBAL REALITIES

PJ & AK: Your interests and activities are predominantly centred around
information and communication technologies. Yet, a big part of your social
engagement takes place in Eastern Europe, which is not exactly o


itical
art scene played an important role in that landscape. A wide range of initiatives,
medialabs, mailing lists, festivals and projects like Next5minutes (Amsterdam/
Rotterdam), Nettime & Syndicate (mailing lists), Backspace & Irational.org
250

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

(London), Ljudmila (Ljubljana), Rixc (Riga), C3 (Budapest) and others constituted
a loose network of researchers, theorists, artists, activists and other cultural
workers.
This network was far from exclusively European. It wa


hat start-ups
with no business models whatsoever (e.g. De.lic.io.us (bookmarks), Flickr
(photos), Youtube (videos), Google Reader (RSS aggregator), Blogspot, and
others) were happy to give their services for free, let contributors use Creative
252

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

Commons licences (mostly on the side of licenses limiting commercial use and
adaptations), let news curators share and aggregate relevant content, and let Time
magazine claim that “You” (meaning “All of us”) are The P


d, how digital
communication has coalesced into a global public sphere, and how digital
communication has catalysed the power of collective mobilization. Information
technologies have done all that – but the framework of communicative action
254

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

describes only a part of the picture. Firstly, as Jodi Dean warns us in her critique of
communicative capitalism (Dean, 2005; see also Dean, 2009), the self-referential
intensity of communication frequently ends up as a subst


ed,
challenged and negotiated. This is especially the case in the face of artificial
scarcity (such as lack of access to knowledge caused by intellectual property in
context of digital networks) or selfish speculations over scarce basic human

256

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

resources (such as problems related to housing, water or waterfront development)
(Mars, Medak, & Sekulić, 2016).
The struggle to challenge the property regime used to be at the forefront of the
Free Software Movement. In the


d
we feel that it requires a complementary strategy that challenges the property
regime as a whole. As our letter at Custodians.online says:
We find ourselves at a decisive moment. This is the time to recognize that the
very existence of our massive knowledge commons is an act of collective
civil disobedience. It is the time to emerge from hiding and put our names
behind this act of resistance. You may feel isolated, but there are many of us.
The anger, desperation and fear of losing our library infrastructures,


egardless of their social status or geographic location brought about by the
digital technologies, public libraries have been radically limited in pursuing their
mission. This results in side-lining of public libraries in enormous expansion of
258

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

commodification of knowledge in the digital realm, and brings huge profits to
academic publishers. In response to these limitations, a number of projects have
sprung up in order to maintain public interest by illegal means.
P


, to own something is to be
useful to that which you own (Saint-Exupéry, 1945). Custodians are the political
subjectivity of that disobedient work of care.
Practices of sharing, downloading, and uploading, are massive. So, if we want to
prevent our knowledge commons from being taken away over and over again, we
need to publicly and collectively stand behind our disobedient behaviour. We
should not fall into the trap of the debate about legality or illegality of our
practices. Instead, we should acknowledge that


that, socially reflexive, situated and critical art cannot remain detached
from the present conjuncture and cannot exist outside the political space. Within
the world of arts, alternatives to existing social sensibilities and realities can be
260

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

articulated and tested without paying a lot of attention to consistency and
plausibility. Whereas activism generally leaves less room for unrestricted
articulation, because it needs to produce real and plausible effects.
With


emonic discourse of the post-historical age of liberal capitalism. In this
way, the essential building blocks of the hacker culture – relations of production,
relations of property, and issues of redistribution – are being drowned out, and
262

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

collective and massive endeavour of commonizing is being eclipsed by the
capacity of the few crypto-savvy tricksters to avoid government control.
Obviously, we strongly disagree with the individualist, privative and 1337 (eli


these
projects try and align with the mainstream, or act as subversions of the mainstream,
or both? Why?
MM & TM: We are currently developing a more fine-tuned approach to
educational aspects of amateur librarianship. The forms of custodianship over
knowledge commons that underpin the practices behind Monoskop, Public Library,
Aaaaarg, Ubu, Library Genesis, and Science Hub are part and parcel of our
contemporary world – whether you are a non-academic with no access to scholarly
libraries, or student/faculty out


ave
become the exclusive instances where emerging disciplines had now to seek
recognition and acceptance. The new disciplines (and their respective professions),
in order to become acknowledged by the scientific community as legitimate, had to
264

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

repeat the same boundary-work as the science in general once had to go through
before.
The moral of this story is that the best way for a new scientific discipline to
claim its territory was to articulate the specificity and


software Calibre (2016),
written by Kovid Goyal, as a software tool which has benefited from the
knowledge produced, passed on and accumulated by librarians for centuries.
Calibre has made the task of creating and maintaining the catalog easy.
266

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

Our vision is to make sharing, aggregating and accessing catalogs easy and
playful. We like the idea that every rendered catalog is stored on a local hard disk,
that an amateur librarian can choose when to share, and that whe


e injunction that allows Elsevier to shut down two most important repositories
providing access to scholarly writing: Science Hub and Library Genesis. The letter
is clearly a product of our specific collective work and dynamic. Yet, it clearly
268

KNOWLEDGE COMMONS AND ACTIVIST PEDAGOGIES

articulates various aspects of discontent around this impasse in access to
knowledge, so it resonates with a huge number of people around the world and
gives them a clear indication that there are many who disobey the global


knowledge commons in Sollfrank 2018


cognized.
While their particular projects may be of a more or less temporary nature, the
discursive value of the work of the “amateur librarians” and their projects
will have a lasting impact on the development of access politics.

_Cultural and Knowledge Commons_

The above discussion illustrates that the phenomenon of shadow libraries
cannot be reduced to its copyright infringing aspects. It needs to be
contextualized within a larger sociopolitical debate that situates the demand
for free and unrestricted a

 

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