How Does Your Garden Grow?

There are two types of people in the world: Those who modify, individualise and tamper with generative technology, and those who seek the consistency, security and reliability of locked appliances (Moore, 2014). This classification depends largely on one’s personal ideologies, that being, are you DIY tech-head with a burning desire to experiment, or do prefer the stability of a uniform user experience that comes with preprogrammed functionality?

Free-flowing digital content on an open platform

Free-flowing digital content on an open platform

At its core, the tension between free-flowing digital content and a media ecology consisting of locked appliances is a paradox of convergence: to expand choices and empower users, or to concentrate ownership at the expense of competition and stifling innovation.

Certainly for users, enclosing oneself in a permission culture such as Facebook or Apple, who tightly control what software can be released on their platforms (Daily Mail Reporter, 2012), can be restrictive, particularly in cases of forced obsolescence. Yet nor do they incur the viruses or crashes which are consequential of the open and free philosophy underpinning generative platforms such as Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows (Zittrain, 2008) . In this way, the tradeoff of open platforms is greater flexibility with an increased risk of downloading poor-quality or malicious apps (Moody, 2012).

For web-based industries, on the other hand, fears surrounding “walled gardens” are still pervasive given their impact on business models. For example, Facebook does not allow Google, who relies on the web remaining open, to index its content (Guardian News & Media, 2012).

Aleph Objects has a “Respects Your Freedom” hardware product certification

An ecology of open platforms, also referred to as “public squares“, is also integral to the success of other industries, particularly that of 3D printing. Through open hardware models, such as Aleph Objects, where all internal files relating to the development of 3D printers are published immediately to the public (Skalski, 2014), users are free to modify and redistribute the designs in accordance to their own needs, thus, enabling anybody to build a 3D printer.

In this way, it is increasingly important to stop the rise of restrictive, locked appliances as such closed ecosystems restrict the growth of a participatory culture and the networks of collective intelligence that is fuelling the process of convergence.


Reference List

Moore, C., 2014, ‘Platforms, Permissions and Ideologies’, notes from Lecture 4 of Convergent Media Practices at The University of Wollongong.

Daily Mail Reporter, 2012, ‘Rise of Apple and Facebook is putting Internet freedom at risk, says Google co-founder’, Mail Online, retrieved 28 March 2014, <>.

Zittrain, J., 2008, ‘Introduction’ in J. Zittrain ‘The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It’ (p. 1-5), New Haven: Yale University Press, retrieved 24 March 2014, <>.

Moody, B., 2012, ‘The 25 best Android tablet apps’, The Sydney Morning Herald – Digital Life, retrieved 28 March 2014, <>.

Guardian News & Media, 2012, ‘Too quiet in the walled garden’, The Sydney Morning Herald – Federal Politics, retrieved 28 March 2014, <>.

Skalski, G., 2014, ‘Going to the extreme to make 3D printers open source’,, retrieved 30 March 2014, <>.


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