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Television is melting

Eben Moglen’s speech – innovation under austerity – is a stern warning to remain vigilant in the face of centralized control over technology, education, and the internet.  He suggests a roadmap for intellectual and financial indepence through disintermediation of technology and education.  Said briefly, Eben is pro wikipedia, pro maker geekery, pro hacking, pro privacy, pro edX and anti Facebook (created by “a little thug in a hooded sweatshirt”), anti surveillance, anti middle man, anti stifling IP laws.
His argument stems from a desire to see a robust, creative and innovative society capable of facing down the challenges looming ahead.  Totalitarianism and social control are his boogeymen – but the argument extends easily to environmental calamities.  A society of mindless consumers won’t have the capcity to innovate and will acquiesce too easily to groups bent on control for the purpose of accumulating personal power.
While the internet is an incredibly open and democratic tool, Eben warns that the technology that have made the internet so powerful can also be used to control it and the individuals that use it.  He is a strong proponent of anonymity and decentralization.
Eben states, “innovation comes from the simple process of letting the kids play and getting out of the way”.  We are in this scene at a critical moment in the history of technological development and there are titanic battles to wage and a world to save.  We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.


10 comments to Television is melting

  • Nancy

    Do you agree with him? 100% 50% 23% not at all? Why?

  • Andres

    I agree with the author, although everything he wishes for seems too unrealizable. Does he suggest a way of accomplish his goals? It sounds too much like a rant “why aren’t we living in a perfect society?”.

    Wikipedia has lots of people that work fulltime, and also has to spend money on technology. It depends on contributors and grants, so it’s not like completely ‘out of the system’.

  • zq263

    I went to the modern museum of art recently and there is an awesome exhibition on the sixth floor called – Centry of the Child – growing by design. It arguing that by allowing children to start exploring freely in the sea of information, design and technology, children’s ability to learn and to create will grow exponentially.

    There is a quote from one of the artists whose name I don’t remember. It goes something similar to the following:

    Playing to the 21st century is what manufacturing was to the industrial age.

  • Nancy

    that sounds like an ITP mission statement!

  • Karl Ward

    Regarding the question Andres posed, “does [Eben Moglen] suggest a way to accomplish his goals?” the answer is yes, he certainly does. Moglen has been instrumental in cultivating, maintaining, enforcing, and defending the rights of people who create and use Free Software. His most high-profile work has been on the latest version of the GNU General Public License, which is arguably the most important software license in use today. For example, without the GNU GPL, Linux and many, many other important tools would not exist. If you are interested in digging further, I suggest reading two things. First, read this interview with Moglen: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/mar/30/guardianweeklytechnologysection.law . Second, read the preamble of the GNU General Public License: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0-standalone.html . This is the software license version of “you had me at hello”: “The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change all versions of a program–to make sure it remains free software for all its users.”

  • sjg447

    This is slightly off topic, but it got me thinking about an article I read once about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding news reports on stories in the developing world. One this surface, this seems like a great thing, of course, because these are issues that might otherwise gain no interest or support in the west. The scary take, though, is that if you have enough money, you can decide what appears on the news. I couldn’t find the article I original read, but here’s a Seattle Times article on the subject entitled Does Gates funding of media taint objectivity?

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2014280379_gatesmedia.html

  • Andres

    When has media not been ‘tainted’? When money could not buy news? Do you think news from a newspaper, tv channel or radio are purer? There is no history, only accounts.

  • Sonia "Li"

    I saw the Century of the Child exhibition as well. My favorite was the last interactive piece by the exit. It was very much an ITP art project; when you enter the screen you see the silhouette of yourself, followed by random monster silhouettes and sounds “growing” from your silhouette as you move around. A mind blowing toy I saw was a board game from the Nazi era; I don’t read German but it was a board game composed of grids and soldier figures with Nazi symbols. It’s crazy to think about how many children they wanted to brainwash with the game, and the militant quality of a board game sends shivers down my spine.

  • Esteban

    I still believe in the collective power of the interent. See how we organized and gave power to the people when protesting SOPA. Now we just need to get people elected that share in this vision instead of the typical plutocrat that we usually get.