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John Borthwick's Instapaper highlights


“ Society is always in flux, and the designer can’t predict how various political, social, and economic systems will come to blunt, augment, or redirect the power of the tool that is being designed. Instead of deinstitutionalizing society, the radicals would have done better to advocate reinstitutionalizing it: pushing for political and legal reforms to secure the transparency and decentralization of power they associated with their favorite technology. ”

“ Felsenstein got his inspiration from reading Ivan Illich’s “Tools for Conviviality,” which called for devices and machines that would be easy to understand, learn, and repair, thus making experts and institutions unnecessary. “Convivial tools rule out certain levels of power, compulsion, and programming, which are precisely those features that now tend to make all governments look more or less alike,” Illich wrote. He had little faith in traditional politics. Whereas Stewart Brand wanted citizens to replace politics with savvy shopping, Illich wanted to “retool” society so that traditional politics, with its penchant for endless talk, becomes unnecessary. ”

The difference in payout between iOS and Android is telling in a whole different way too. We used to think that Android engagement averages were much lower because there were so many more Android users. It was assumed that high-end Android users were worth as much to Android as high-end iOS users were worth to Apple. The numbers tell us that this is not so.

There are roughly the same number of high-end Android and iOS users. Yet the total payout over the past 12 months was 5 billion for Android and 10 billion for iOS. This means that Android engagement numbers are not lower because of all the low-end users. It means, instead, that high-end Android users act very differently than high-end iOS users.

“ While there will always be market-oriented boosters like Chris Anderson and Kevin Kelly, they are easy foils for Morozov….even straw men. The hackerspace world has its own voice, apart from such celebrity commentators. Why not give a platform to these on-the-ground, politically committed activists, hackers, academics and project participants?  I find that there is a lot of talk in these circles about policy and institutions – and about taking pro-active steps to protect the hacker ethic ”

“ Counterculture giants of the time, like Stewart Brand, Buckminster Fuller and Ivan Illich, championed vernacular tools as a way to give people the personal autonomy and choices they craved.  But the consumerist version of this ultimately vision prevailed, such that the decentralized empowerment that networked computers provided has been a mixed bag. ”