Review of Decoding Liberation in
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

Chopra and Dexter (both, City Univ. of New York) compare the value of the "bazaar-like" qualities of free and open source software (FOSS) with the "rigid cathedrals" of that of proprietary software houses. Major themes emerge: FOSS's effect on economic concepts of property, work, and production; ethical importance for communities and individuals ("technological idealism"); the aesthetics of code and its facilitation of creativity; objectivity of computing as a scientific field; and the facilitation of a heavily technologized "cyborg" world. The historical overview examines Richard Stallman's pioneering work, the hacker ethic, and FOSS's role in the enrichment and development of the Internet. Free software allows changing, reading, and altering source code. The work is technically detailed and carefully analyzed, clarifying the stakes involved in choosing a particular rights regime over others, from licensing schemes to copyleft to non-copyleft (a newly articulated concept). The section on code aesthetics explores the effect of collaboration and "beautiful" code in fascinating ways. They explain the "failure" of academic computer science that is infused with strong commercial interests and based on the lack of publishing code for open criticism when "science is truth-tropic because of open criticism." An exceptionally well-written and conceptualized work on an underexplored area of computer science. Summing Up: Highly recommended.