Christopher Kelty


Christopher Kelty


Office: 3318 Life Sciences Bldg (LSB)


Phone: 310-267-4775

Personal Website

Curriculum Vitae

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Christopher M. Kelty is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a joint appointment in the Institute for Society and Genetics, the department of Information Studies and the Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering. He is the author most recently of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities.

He is trained in science studies (history and anthropology) and has also written about methodological issues facing anthropology today.

Current projects include:

  • An NSF-funded research project on Participation. We compare cases of mediated participation in multiple domains (from free software to citizen journalism to science and engineering to culture and art). We are working on a “Bird Guide” to the organization and governance of participation today.
  • Ongoing research on aspects of “openness” in science, ranging from issues of open access to scholarly publications to openness and closure in scientific research both today, and in the past (in particular newsletters and forms of cooperation/coordination around model organisms like the Drosophila Information Service) and in the present in things like DIY Biology, Synthetic biology and open source science
  • ongoing historical/media theoretical investigation of the development of computer science, and in particular the development of “logical instruments” such as regular expressions, l-systems, formal languages, and other ways of making theories come alive in the study of life.
  • a new scholarly magazine called Limn.



Christopher M. Kelty Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software and the Internet Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.


Kelty, C. (2014). The fog of freedom. In Gillespie, T., Foot, K., and Boczkowski, P., editors, Media
Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society
. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Currie, M., Kelty, C., and Murillo, L. F. R. (2013). “Free software trajectories: From organized publics to
formal social enterprises?
” Journal of Peer Production, 1(3).

Kelty, C. M. (2013b). “There is no free software.” Journal of Peer Production, 1(3).

Kelty, C. (2012b). From participation to power. In Delwiche, A. and Henderson, J., editors, The Participatory
Cultures Handbook. Routledge, New York and London.

Kelty, Christopher M. (2012). “This is not an article: Model organism newsletters and the question of ‘open science.‘” Biosocieties 7(2):140-168. (pdf)

Fish, A., Murillo, L. F. R., Nguyen, L., Panofsky, A. & Kelty, C. M. (2011). Birds of the Internet: Towards a field guide to the organization and governance of participation. Journal of Cultural Economy, 4(2), 157-187. doi:10.1080/17530350.2011.563069. [PDF]

Christopher M. Kelty “Afterword:: Recompiling,” Criticism 53(3):471-480, Summer 2011 (Edited by Antonio Cerasa and Jeff Pruchnic).

Christopher M. Kelty “Logical Instruments: Regular Expressions, Artificial Intelligence, and Thinking about thinking,” in The Search for a Theory of Cognition: Early Mechanisms and New Ideas, ed. Stefano Franchi and Francesco Bianchini, Amsterdam, New York:Rodopi Publishers, (2011).

Christopher M. Kelty “Introduction: Culture In, Culture Out,” Anthropological Quarterly 83, no. 1 (2010): 7-16.

Christopher M. Kelty “Geeks, Internets, and Recursive Publics,” Cultural Anthropology 20, no. 2 (Summer 2005). DOI 10.1525/can.2005.20.2.185

Christopher M. Kelty “Inventing Copyleft,” in Contexts of Invention, ed. Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2010.

Cafer Yavuz et al., “Pollution magnet: nano-magnetite for arsenic removal from drinking water,” Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 32(4):327-334, Auguest, 2010.

Elise McCarthy and Christopher M. Kelty, “Responsibility and nanotechnology,” Social Studies of Science 40, no. 3 (June 1, 2010): 405-432. DOI: 10.1177/0306312709351762

Kelty, Christopher M. “Responsibility: McKeon and Ricoeur,” ARC Working Paper #12, May 2008.

M. Lounsbury et al., “Towards Open Source Nano: Arsenic Removal and Alternative Models of Technology Transfer,” JAI Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Growth 19 (2009): 51-78. DOI: 10.1108/S1048-4736(2009)0000019003

Christopher M. Kelty “Beyond Implications and Applications: the Story of ‘Safety by Design’,” NanoEthics 3, no. 2 (2009): 79-96. DOI 10.1007/s11569-009-0066-y

Hannah Landecker and Christopher M. Kelty “Ten Thousand Journal Articles Later: Ethnography of “The Literature” in Science,” Empira: Revista de Metodologia de Ciencias Sociales, no. 18 (December 2009): 173-191.

Christopher M. Kelty “Conceiving Open Systems,” Journal of Law & Policy 30 (2009): 139.

Christopher M. Kelty Allotropes of Fieldwork in Nanotechnology (2008). In Emerging Conceptual, Ethical and Policy Issues in Bionanotechnology, p. 157-180. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-8649-6_10.

C. M. Kelty, C. S Burrus, and R. G Baraniuk, “Peer Review Anew: Three Principles and a Case Study in Postpublication Quality Assurance,” Proceedings of the IEEE 96 (2008): 1000-1011. DOI 10.1109/JPROC.2008.921613

Christopher M. Kelty “Anthropology in/of Circulation: a discussion,” Cultural Anthropology 23, no. 3 (2008). 10.1111/j.1548-1360.2008.00018.x

Christopher M. Kelty “Collaboration, Coordination and Composition: Fieldwork after the Internet,” in Fieldwork isn’t what it used to be, ed. James Faubion and George Marcus (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).

Christopher M. Kelty The Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology (Paris: UNESCO, 2006).

Christopher M. Kelty “Free Science” in Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software ed. Feller MIT Press 2005.

Christopher M. Kelty “Trust Among the Algorithms” in CODE: Collaborative Ownership in the Digital Economy ed. Rishab Ayer Ghosh MIT Press 2005.

Christopher M. Kelty “Culture’s Open Sources” and “Punt to Culture” in Anthropological Quarterly 77(3) Summer 2004. (licensed under a Creative Commons License by AQ)

Hannah Landecker and Christopher M. Kelty “A Theory of Animation: Cells, Film and L-Systems” Grey Room Vol. 17 Fall 2004.

Christopher M. Kelty Free Software/Free ScienceFirst Monday,December 2001


Ph.D. Program in Science, Technology and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2000)