ENTANGLED AUTONOMY ON AUTOMATED AIRWAVES: THE CASE OF RIVENDELL
Keywords:automation, radio, autonomy, cultural politics, media activism
AbstractRivendell, a free and open source software suite for automated radio broadcasting, has brought several groups with clashing stances on technology, communication, and cultural politics into cooperation. This paper treats Rivendell as an opening onto the politics at play when the liberal ethos propelling free and open source software (Coleman, 2013) meets the autonomy-prizing traditions of independent broadcasting within an automation system. Complicating this already tense juncture, Rivendell has drawn users and code contributors from drastically opposed political groups within American broadcastings—right-wing Christian talk radio networks and progressive community stations—and has sustained a difficult terrain of working compromise that the activist push for low-power FM broadcasting inaugurated (Dunbar-Hester, 2014). In this paper, analysis of Rivendell's open source code base sheds light on its development and helps connect it to longer histories of media automation and its attendant social frictions. Interviews with lead Rivendell developers complete the picture of the project's trajectory, of its relation to the religious right context where the project began, and of the negotiations that have played out among its developers and its community of users in terrestrial and internet radio. The ongoing compromises and tensions threaded through Rivendell can offer insight into an issue that becomes larger and more pressing as media become increasingly complex and networked: how artists, activists, and media technologists who prioritize independence have reckoned with their reliance on socio-technical infrastructures whose connections may strike them as far less than savory.
How to Cite
Stuhl, A. K. (2021). ENTANGLED AUTONOMY ON AUTOMATED AIRWAVES: THE CASE OF RIVENDELL. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12052