Below you'll find a link to a manuscript I'm working on. While it isn't necessary to read the manuscript, it offers further contextualization in terms of where I am coming from and why I will be addressing the Free Software Movement as a model of service. The manuscript outlines popular models for service-learning in Rhetoric and Composition (what I refer to as the charity model, the social change model, and the outcomes model). It also demonstrates how the good citizen forms the ideological base for each of these models and how the goal of transforming students into good citizens results in what Lynn Worsham calls "pedagogical violence" on students who are disinterested, unwilling, or unable to become this ideal. While the manuscript stops short of offering up a specific alternative, it does address at least one alternative: what Troy Murphy dubs the "ordinary hero." The "ordinary hero" is often aggressively disinterested in traditional electoral politics; he/she/ze is cynical or maybe Cynical. Instead, he/she/ze lives his/her/hir political beliefs, and these beliefs are often guided by particular attachments and not-strictly-rational responses to society. I'm curious how the cynicism/Cynicism of the "ordinary hero" raises questions about how we need more contemporary models for service in general, and service-learning in Rhetoric and Composition in particular.
My talk at WIDE-EMU 2013 represents part of the research I'm developing in an attempt to answer, or maybe more accurately illustrate this question. As I see it, a dedication to and the implementation of service form the ideological core of the Free Software Movement (FSM). In using service to define this core, I move from service-learning traditions and create an operational definition of service based on peer-to-peer network topologies. At present, my operational definition:
Service engages with, influences and gets influenced by the circulation of emotional, intellectual, and material flows. An ethic of service affords, constrains, and complicates cooperation among heterogeneous actors in the complex systems surrounding these flows.
My argument, or the point of my talk, is that the FSM exhibits an ethic of service that has more in common with the "ordinary hero" than the "good citizen" (though both models are problematic to be sure). This ethic offers self-care alongside the ethic of contributing to a network of producers and users. And, these ethics were derived from hacker culture (particularly residue of 60s and 70s counterculture and appropriation of pre-capitalist, particularly Native American, gift culture). For the FSM, free is not only a political principle. It is a day-to-day practice emblematic of this ethic.
This talk connects to a larger project as well. I'm examining network topologies (p2p, client/server, and cloud server models) in an attempt to bring the discourse of networking into discussions of what service means. Because this overarching goal guides my talk, I'm going to take one more moment of your time to list a few of the assumptions I'm working from:
1. In academic institutions, service is devalued to the point of hyperexploitation.
2. There is no institution, nor institutional network, without service.
3. Network conceptions of service differ from academic conceptions of service.
4. Network conceptions of service can provide more rhetorical power and flexibility for academics engaged in service and service-learning.