Hello and welcome! Here’s a page dedicated to giving our decentralized network some detailed information about the current and past evolution of The Operating System’s operating system.


The OS is alive and well!

However, it could be said that the simulation of the operation of the System in which the public was invited into a cooperative model for publication, production, and other projects, with a centralized administrative core is concluding its beta test. Ultimately, this is the result of the cooperative central thesis on which this model was proposed never really finding its footing – not because of lack of desire or enthusiasm on the part of OS community members, but because of the punishing circumstances of late capitalism, leaving so many in a situation wherein the consistent volunteer labor this concretely requires is untenable.

But really this is not news: these last years have seen this evolution being openly considered and addressed, with public reflections on our community’s capacities to uphold the collective model as designed. Our public, widely circulated newsletters and editorials have continuously spoken to the prioritization of system infrastructure, resources and tools, in an attempt to reorient any misperception of this endeavor as one wherein the print book object has primacy. By orienting the system towards the decentralized open source wireframing of the original model, it can be infinitely autonomously implemented and scaled by any operators into the future, simultaneously having a much greater impact and demanding less time-sensitive labor, which the majority of our resource-strapped community (and especially core volunteers) cannot continue to provide. 

Throughout the OS’s evolution there has been commitment to the concretizing and building of open tools and resources out of OS operations and strategies (both internal and outward facing), which has been transparently shared during this process on the OS resource hub. Elæ is currently editing and compiling these guidelines and the blueprint of the model itself into an Operating System Manual, which will be available as a free download as well as a print publication. The library itself will continue to grow with tools, projects, and resources.

Not only that, but the website, the resource hub, our medium site and online publications, Liminal Lab, events and workshops, projects and programs will continue to evolve as part of this System. See more on how this will work in the topic areas below.

All OS projects and publications to date (as well as our tools and resources) have been produced on CC BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Licenses, in part to ensure their plasticity through the inevitable shifts of this Operating System, our embattled planetary ecosystem, and all the socio-cultural infrastructures with which we interface. The last three years have seen the iterative design and build out of the Open Access Library, on which all projects produced to date using the OS model are now available and on which projects and all associated media will remain in digital form perpetuity, with links to support their creators and access versions of these works.

Built into the use of the CC license structure is a desire to support the continued evolution of any of the projects the OS has produced and/or supported — and to anticipate their shifting value as archival objects, both in digital and physical form. All OS project ISBNs and other metadata will remain active in perpetuity, and any and all of these projects can remain in print circulation in their current edition / iteration as Operating System projects, in one of two ways. Detailed instructions / outlines for these options (and publishing agreement riders for each) have been provided to OS community members and are available in our Open Project Resources, here

If you so choose and you wish to seek a more traditional service model for your project moving ahead, you are also welcome to seek a new publisher to support your project’s distribution and sale, as a new edition, and/or to choose to entirely shift to digital access to your project. You are also always welcome to include download of your project, with a fee-based structure, on your own website (as some OS community members already do!).

Should you choose to do so, any and all creative folks within the OS network are invited to continue to register under The Operating System umbrella for bookfairs and events to sell your publications and support your own and each others’ projects. However, there will no longer be centralized administration or coordination for events, so from this point forward it will be up to those who wish to be present at these events to collectively fund attendance and provide inventory. This is already in keeping with the cooperatively managed / funded bookfair policy developed by the community in January of 2019, available here for adoption and adaptation as useful. The OS collaborator facebook group will remain active so that you are able to be in touch with each other moving ahead, but will need other administrators to step up to monitor content and activity.

After reaching out this fall to all recent OS volunteers (for book fairs and beyond), it was clear that no one could take on the labor of managing a booth or table for AWP Seattle 2023, which means that at current the OS as an entity is not planning to table at AWP (or other upcoming conferences and/or events). 

Liminal Lab, as a project dedicated to peer-to-peer skillsharing and open access learning, is currently between seasons of offerings, but exists as an infrastructure. It is being reconsidered as an independent entity which implements the System and feeds into its resources.  Among other nascent projects and programs, the development of curriculum, guidebooks, and other tools from past and future Liminal Lab workshops is in process. More announcements will follow as they evolve.

The 2022 Autonomous Mechanics Year-Book Cohort (which explicitly transitioned the previously project-oriented operating system into a decentralized consideration of the ways in which this system and / or similar conceptual infrastructures might support creative practice across disciplines) completed a year of support monthly peer-led conversations, publication of Field Notes, and is in conversation about collective projects and publications now that the year has drawn to a close. Look for announcements about this and future Autonomous Mechanics projects.

The Operating System Manual, once fully live, will offer updated Open Source protocol for the continued use (as well as application / adoption / teaching) of the OS’s strategies and systems. Built into this is an open invitation to carry on the OS’s mission through the use of these tools, which leaves individuals and organizations capacitous to produce projects, programs, and publications using The Operating System. The current cohort, future cohorts, as well as independent agents within the OS organism will continue to publish Field Notes on the Medium site. All OS members, as always, are invited to use our Medium infrastructure for self-managed online publication projects in future.

As community members use and circulate the tools allowing independent / community use of the publication model and other system strategies, and autonomous OS publications and projects emerge, a decentralized administration strategy and/or wiki for circulating and aggregating information about these projects and/or potentially adding these to the OS Open Access Library may emerge. However, neither this nor any future strategy will be implemented which requires unsustainable, urgent, unpaid labor from any community member.

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