Marcell Mars: Climbing mainframe
Libraries are institutional, social, technological, epistemic and ethical infrastructures of access to knowledge. Historically, together with universities, libraries are the institutions able and responsible to negotiate exemptions from (total) commodification and privatization of education and knowledge production. A public library is a part of these invisible infrastructures that we start to notice only once they begin to disappear. A utopian dream about the place from which every human being will have access to every piece of available knowledge that can be collected looked impossible for a long time, until the egalitarian impetus of social revolutions, the Enlightenment idea of universality of knowledge, and the exceptional suspension of the commercial barriers to access to knowledge made it possible.
The rise of digital networks, over the last few decades, challenged its coeval legal protection of intellectual property through two significant phenomena:
- commonsbased peer(2peer) production (of software infrastructures) and its consecutive
- (approaching) zero marginal cost of information production and distribution (in digital networks).
Internet corporate giants, such as Google and Amazon.com, were able to appropriate social production of Free/Libre Open Source Software and build their own distributed computer infrastructures/monopolies on top of that. Their internal distributed computing topologies through the means of administrative, legal and organizational lenses still appear to the rest of the world as central and not much different than the good old (sic!) mainframe paradigm. The network infrastructures they build are offered to the world as “public services” governed by their “citizens”, a promise typically enacted by governments. Their huge growth has demonstrated the strength of the network paradigm. Still, a different world is possible. The one where virtualization and distributed network topology underlie, strengthen and improve the existing public infrastructures/institutions, where rough consensus and running code could inspire us to courageously demand the universal access to knowledge for every member of society.
Marcell Mars (born Nenad Romić, 1972) is a free software advocate, cultural explorer, and social instigator. Marcell is one of the founders of Multimedial Institute – mi2 and net.culture club mama in Zagreb. He initiated GNU GPL publishing label ‘ EGOBOO.bits, TamTam platform for on-line collaboration, Ngode software for NGOs financial management. He initiated skill sharing regular informal meetings of enthusiasts in mama + started skill sharing’s satellites g33koskop and ‘The Fair of Mean Equipment’. Marcell participated in collaborative artistic projects like NRD Kit of NRD Van group of artists, gifoskop (interactive animation) together with Nikolina Pristas & Maja Marjancic + was a tech developer for projects EditThisBanner (by Lina Kovacevic) and Flying Carpet (by Lala Rascic). He was one of the organizers of summer camps “Otokultivator” on island Vis (together with URK Močvara & EASA Croatia) and SummerSource (together with TacticalTech). Marcell participated in curating or producing mi2 yearly exhibitions I Am Still Alive (2001) and re:Con (2002), free culture, science and technology festival Freedom to creativity! (2005) and in conceptual exhibition System.hack() (2006). He is a member of Creative Commons Team Croatia. Regularly runs workshops like ‘Programming for non-programmers’, ‘Social software and semantic web in practice’, ‘Command line audio on GNU/Linux’… Gives talks on topics like hacking, free software philosophy, gathering communities around good causes, slacking, doing nothing, stupid/smart business models of music industries, social software & semantic web… While in Zagreb Marcell hangs out in Hacklab in mama, in Belgrade runs Wonder of technology/Čudo tehnike, Hackers lenses/Hakerska optika and Programming for non-programmers at Faculty of Media and Communication, from 2011-2012 worked on research Ruling Class Studies at Jan Van Eyck in Maastricht, a research continued in 2015 as PhD at Digital Cultures Research Lab. In 2013 did fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. These days advocates for and works on Public library. He sings, dances, tells the stories and makes music as Nenad Romic za Novyi Byte.