Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Comrades, Let Us Seize the Time

It is worth noting that this analysis is completely out of date:

This... brings into sharp focus a scary reality that often gets overlooked (or is it intentionally downplayed?) in educational technology, namely that the Utopian, blue sky ideas of technology as a singular harbinger of possibility and liberation ignores the cold and all-consuming role that capital plays in the shaping of technology as means of control. Now I understand that this struggle is by no means unilateral, and that for every instance of technology as a means to consolidate power for capital, there is another instance in which that same technology can be used to undermine the fallacious logic of capital’s vision of progress.

Capital does not shape software anymore, period. If you or your institution is using proprietary software it is solely due to choice. Hardware and network architecture are a battleground, but one that has no means been lost. This critique has not only been made by organizations like the Free Software Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but very effective countermeasures have been designed, created and deployed to ensure freedom and a truer, more humane vision of technological progress. But in particular, in software, the power of capital has been decisively undermined.


Bill Fitzgerald said...

Hello, Tom,

RE: "If you or your institution is using proprietary software it is solely due to choice."

Very true, but these choices are made within a context, and this context (and subsequently, these choices) are rarely made on the merits of the software alone.

Or am I missing what you are saying? I think I am...

Tom Hoffman said...

Well, maybe I snipped too much of the context. It is easy to lose sight of how different software really is now compared to other industries.

Food analogies are good here. Let's say that, in addition to our current system of industrial food production, everyone's phone created an unlimited volume of organic produce for free. You could still go see Super Size Me, but if your friend was like "This is a horrible scandal, let's start a movement," wouldn't you be like, "Or we could just eat the stuff coming out of the phone?"

Bill Kerr said...

many who make free software need "day jobs" to survive, without that necessity, we would be much further down the track

i'm sure there are other issues (without being expert) eg. something really needs to be done but it's not an itch that anyone really wants to scratch

my own context is that my school is locked into a statewide microsoft agreement, which generates enormous pressure for individual schools not to move decisively to free software

btw the quote from the glass bees said "technology" not software

bruce sterling intro to the glass bees here