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Greg McVerry

Culture and Priviledge in Open Source Blogging

3 min read

Having a straight white male explain a utopian vision of blogging and open source is not new.

While I believe in the values of open pedagogy as much as I do in open source I recognize that I come from blogging from a place of priviledge and open source communities needs to recognize similar barriers people may face when calling everyone to blog

Who is Everyone?

Creative Commons likes to point out that over 1.4 billion peince of content get shared on 9 million websites but Maha Bali remids us that

  • From which countries?
  • In which languages?
  • On which topics?
  • By which authors (e.g. more privileged, male, etc?)
  • How often is CC licensed work remixed, translated, reused? Is tracking this something we care about?

Creative Commons Then & Now: Egypt Perspective

Maha then goes on to describe how people whose work has been misappropriated, either literally or culturally may not want to work openly.

It is important for open source communites that encorage blogging to stres that while open source contributions maintain community licenses no one tells you how to license your own work.

Who's Utopia?

Not everone will agree that they should adopt your version of open. Audrey Watters writes:

As a woman who writes online about technology, I have grown far too tired of “permission-less-ness.” Because “open” doesn’t just mean using my work for free without asking. It actually often means demanding I do more work – justify my decisions, respond to accusations, and constantly rethink how and where I want to be and am able to be and work on the Internet.

So I’ve been thinking a lot, as I said, about “permissions” and “openness.” I have increasingly come to wonder if “permission-less-ness” as many in “open” movements have theorized this, is built on some unexamined exploitation and extraction of labor – on invisible work, on unvalued work. Whose digital utopia does “openness” represent?

Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias

Cultural differences also influence your views of a digital open utopia. How we view ownership and learning is not uniform around the world.

Open Source communities need to plan for these cultural differences and encourage multilingual blogging. An English only web is not an open web.

Historical Inequity

We also need to recognize that beyond the literacy gaps caused by centuries of racism and hate other systemic forms of inequity may influence the attitudes people take up towards blogging. Take imposter syndrome (which research shows actually effects men more but they suffer silently...beasuse you know..toxic masculinity) which society assigns more to women. Decades and centures in the work place of being castigated as "not smart enough" or "too emotional" can lead to not believing in yourself as a blogger.

The same can happen with a need for perfection. Those who identiofy as male get socialized into risk taking and competetion and young girls engineered more for perfection. If you wait for every word of perfection on a blog you will never hit publish.

Open Source communites need to provide scaffold for bloggers from underrepresented people and cultures. Blogging begets blogging and not only will this strategy support your mmebers but you will attract others as well.

Happy blogging.



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