Tuesday, November 14, 2006

yes yes yes!

Finally an intellectual that I'm 99% keen on their view of technology. His name is Ivan Illich, maybe I mentioned him before. Thanks J Man for introducing me. I'm reading this essay that's really doing it for me. http://todd.cleverchimp.com/tools_for_conviviality/#biol Let's see the technophiles attack him! yeah right.

Here are a few paragraphs that really struck the cord.

"Commercial monopoly is broken at the cost of the few who profit from it. Usually, these few manage to evade controls. The cost of radical monopoly is already borne by the public and will be broken only if the public realizes that it would be better off paying the costs of ending the monopoly than by continuing to pay for its maintenance. But the price will not be paid unless the public learns to value the potential of a convivial society over the illusion of progress. It will not be paid voluntarily by those who confuse conviviality with intolerable poverty.

Some of the symptoms of radical monopoly are reaching public awareness, above all the degree to which frustration grows faster than output in even the most highly developed countries and under whatever political regime. Policies aimed to ease this frustration may easily distract attention from the general nature of the monopoly at its roots, however. The more these reforms succeed in correcting superficial abuses, the better they serve to bolster the monopoly I am trying to describe."

He's talking about technology being developed and used to deny people the freedom to relate to other people outside of monetary transactions. In this case he uses the examples of health care, which he calls sick care, making it illegal and difficult to provide care for one another without tributing the "experts". He's not really touting bunches of alternative therapies, he's just saying we can take care of ourselves and each other to a much greater degree than we do and should. He has similar notions about cars.

"Crucial to how much anyone can learn on his own is the structure of his tools: the less they are convivial, the more they foster teaching. In limited and well-integrated tribes, knowledge is shared quite equally among most members. All people know most of what everybody knows. On a higher level of civilization, new tools are introduced; more people know more things, but not all know how to execute them equally well. Mastery of skill does not yet imply a monopoly of understanding. One can understand fully what a goldsmith does without being one oneself. Men do not have to be cooks to know how to prepare food. This combination of widely shared information and competence for using it is characteristic of a society in which convivial tools prevail. The techniques used are easily understood by observing the artisan at work, but the skills employed are complex and usually can be acquired only through lengthy and programmed apprenticeship. Total learning expands when the range of spontaneous learning widens along with access to an increasing number of taught skills and both liberty and discipline flower. This expansion of the balance of learning cannot go on forever; it is self-limiting. It can be optimized, but it cannot be forcibly extended. One reason is that man’s life span is limited. Another-just as inexorable-is that the specialization of tools and the division of labor reinforce each other. When centralization and specialization grow beyond a certain point, they require highly programmed operators and clients. More of what each man must know is due to what another man has designed and has the power to force on him.

The city child is born into an environment made up of systems that have a different meaning for their designers than for their clients. The inhabitant of the city is in touch with thousands of systems, but only peripherally with each. He knows how to operate the TV or the telephone, but their workings are hidden from him. Learning by primary experience is restricted to self-adjustment in the midst of packaged commodities. He feels less and less secure in doing his own thing. Cooking, courtesy, and sex become subject matters in which instruction is required. The balance of learning deteriorates: it is skewed in favor of “education.” People know what they have been taught, but learn little from their own doing. People come to feel that they need “’education."

Here we get into the discussion about how division of labor, particularly longer term, is abusive to the participants. And also why so many people are deplorably ignorant about the technology and circumstances they are immersed in.

This guy makes me want to learn how to build a strawbale house. I think I'll go do that. Peace out

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