Mundane Work for Utopian Ends: Freeing Digital Materials in Peer Production.
Pentzold, C. (2021). Mundane Work for Utopian Ends: Freeing Digital Materials in Peer Production. New Media & Society, 23(4), 861-833.
This article studies the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as a core example of the storage and sharing of commons-based digital materials. It focuses on the voluntary, day-to-day activities of its editors as they gather and transform digital information goods that are made available free of charge. Using the notion of articulation work, I stress the effort that goes into accommodating the engagement with the encyclopedia within the contributors’ media-suffused daily routines. Then, the article discusses the typical practices of transcribing, republishing, and relicensing through which the transition from non-free ownership to freely shared property is brought about. Finally, the freedom that is inherent in the modification of the legal status of ideas and artifacts and their public circulation requires us to interrogate the ethical implications of the digital commons collected and spread by Wikipedians.