Archives for posts with tag: rhetoric

Defining “work” has been tough lately. Being “productive” requires a new definition. Is it work when a music student plays an instrument? When is it fun? When is it not?

Of course it’s up to the person, but the music example makes me think about my own work/fun distinctions. What is work if learning and teaching are fun? What is work if reading about and using new web technology is fun? What is work if the result demonstrates some quality about you that later fulfills some necessary requirement or constitutes some value?

Clay Shirky and Yochai Benkler make arguments about work, but I’m thinking about experience, affects. It is not enough to have new theories about work/fun, we must also have ways to think, feel, and be.

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I am a firm believer in the notion of public knowledge, which is fundamental to just and democratic societies. This is why I am such a staunch open access and free software advocate. In order for societies to thrive, it is imperative to facilitate a commons, a shared resource of knowledge from which many can equitably benefit.

I am wary, however, of the modernist perspective (which is articulated frequently today through futurist and objectivist rhetoric) that ideas, especially those technological, are centrally useful for improving, progressing, or pursuing some other form of linear (often material) growth. I think there are clear logical and measurable limits to that ideology and so I seek to up-end its grip at every possible turn.

I am concerned, rather, with the notion that ideas (scientific and otherwise) should be shared and developed with the interest of people and environment in mind—justice and sustainability.