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Contra* podcast — Mapping Access
"a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or play from our website."

[See also:

"In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Show notes and transcription



Critical Design

Theory of critical design revised by disability

Writing as/part of critical design

Disability politics in relation to design

Translational work and science communication; critical design as a “friendly Trojan horse”

Things as an index of ideas

STEAM, knowledge, and power


Sara Hendren (

Abler blog (

Adaptation and Ability Lab (

Wendy Jacob and Temple Grandin, Squeeze Chair (

Sketch Model project at Olin College (

Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (

Aimi Hamraie, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (


Introduction Description:

The podcast introductory segment is composed to evoke friction. It begins with sounds of a wheelchair rhythmically banging down metal steps, the putter of an elevator arriving at a person’s level, and an elevator voice saying “Floor two, Floor three.” Voices begin to define Contra*. Layered voices say “Contra is friction…Contra is…Contra is nuanced…Contra is transgressive…Contra is good trouble…Contra is collaborative…Contra is a podcast!…Contra is a space for thinking about design critically…Contra is subversive…Contra is texture…”

An electric guitar plays a single note to blend out the sound.

The rhythmic beat of an electronic drum begins and fades into the podcast introduction.


Episode Introduction:

Welcome to Contra*: the podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.

I’m your host, Aimi Hamraie .  I am a professor at Vanderbilt University, a designer and design researcher, and the director of the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution collaborative focused on disability, technology, and critical theory.  Members of the lab collaborate on a number of projects focused on hacking ableism, speaking back to inaccessible public infrastructures, and redesigning the methods of participatory design—all using a disability culture framework. This podcast provides a window into the kinds of discussions we have within the lab, as well as the conversations we are hoping to put into motion. So in coming episodes, you’ll also hear from myself and the other designers and researchers in the lab, and we encourage you to get in touch with us via our website, or on Twitter at @criticaldesignl

In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Sara and I talk about her work in the fields of critical design and assistive technology, including how she came to this work, how she is thinking about strategy and practice, and also her current work on bridging the humanities with STEM education."]
accessibility  disability  aimihamraie  ableism  podcasts  disabilitystudies  criticaldesign  olincollege  assistivetechnology  technology  poeticcreation  creativity  sarahendren  ivanillich  toolsforconviviality  wendyjacob  templegrandin  stem  knowledge  power  karenbarad  adaptation  materialculture  socialimagination  art  design  thinking  inclusivity  capitalism  howwewrite  howwethink  making  communication  academia  scholarship  ethics  politics  difference  jargon  language 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Plastic Words —
"In his book Deschooling Society (1971), Ivan Illich briefly alluded to a class of words "so flexible that they cease to be useful." "Like an amoeba," he said, "they fit into almost any interstice of the language." Two years later, in Tools for Conviviality, Illich wrote that language had come to "reflect the monopoly of the industrial mode of production over perception and motivation." He urged " rediscovery of language" as a personal and poetic medium. But Illich made no detailed analysis of how language had been industrialized. Then, in 1981, he became one of the first group of fellows at the new Wissenschaftkolleg, or Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin. Among his colleagues was Uwe Pörksen, a professor of German literature from the University of Freiburg. The two became friends, and one of the things they discussed was the empty word husks that Illich had first called amoebas. Pörksen renamed them plastic words and undertook a detailed study of the phenomenon, Seven years later in 1988, he published Plastikwörter: Die Sprache einer Internationalen Diktatur (The Language of an International Dictatorship.)

Pörksen argued that plastic words are not merely the clichés, slogans and hackneyed expressions against which commentators like George Orwell ("Politics and the English Language") or James Thurber ("The Psychosemanticist Will See You Now, Mr. Thurber") had railed. They form a distinct class, numbering not many more than thirty or forty. The list includes obviously puffed up words like communication, sexuality, and information, but also less obtrusive terms like problem, factor, and role. Together, Pörksen says, they compose a Lego-like, modular lingo which bulldozes all the merely local and historical features of language and paves the way to the shining city of universal development.

I learned of Pörksen's work from Illich, when I went to State College, Pennsylvania to record interviews with Illich in 1988. At the time, it had briefly become the playful custom in his household to ostentatiously clear one's throat whenever one found it necessary to pronounce a plastic word. I was intrigued and eager to present Pörksen's research to my Canadian radio audience, but there were several problems: his book wasn't translated, I didn't speak German, and Pörksen had only limited English. My German-born wife, Jutta Mason, solved the first problem by making a rough translation of the German text, and, in time, as we got to know each other, Uwe agreed to attempt the interview. It was recorded in Barbara Duden's house in Bremen in 1992. Jutta joined us, to boost Uwe's confidence and help with translation as needed, but, in the event, the occasion seemed to inspire a rudimentary but powerful eloquence in Uwe, and no translation was needed.

The edited interview, which follows, was broadcast on Ideas early in 1993. Jutta's translation also became the basis for an English edition, pictured above, of Plastic Words. Uwe came and stayed with us for a week in Toronto, and he and Jutta and I together worked over the English text, until it was ready for publication by the Penn State Press in 1995. Good reviews never led to much of a readership for a book that I think deserves to be better known, but it remains available."
davidcayley  deschooling  ivanillich  2017  toolsforconviviality  unschooling  jargon  meaning  language  uwepörksen  1993  1988  georgeorwell  jamesthurber  communication  clarity  conviviality 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"

"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."

"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."

"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."

"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."

"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Sarah Hendren on Vimeo
"Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers – Translators, impresarios, believers, and the heartbroken—this is a talk about design outside of authorship and ownership, IP or copyright, and even outside of research and collaboration. When and where do ideas come to life? What counts as design? Sara talks about some of her own "not a real designer" work, but mostly she talks about the creative work of others: in marine biology, architecture, politics, education. Lots of nerdy history, folks."
sarahendren  eyeo2016  2016  eyeo  dilettantes  interlopers  translation  ownership  copyright  collaboration  education  marinebiology  architecture  design  research  learning  howwelearn  authorship  socialengagement  criticaldesign  thehow  thewhy  traction  meaning  place  placefulness  interconnectedness  cause  purpose  jacquescousteau  invention  dabbling  amateurs  amateurism  exploration  thinking  filmmaking  toolmaking  conviviality  convivialtools  ivanillich  impresarios  titles  names  naming  language  edges  liminalspaces  outsiders  insiders  dabblers  janeaddams  technology  interdependence  community  hullhouse  generalists  radicalgeneralists  audrelorde  vaclavhavel  expertise  pointofview  disability  adaptability  caseygollan  caitrinlynch  ingenuity  hacks  alinceshepherd  inclinedplanes  dance  pedagogy  liminality  toolsforconviviality  disabilities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Intervention – “Vernacular Values: Remembering Ivan Illich” by Andy Merrifield |
"Illich had it in for professional institutions of every kind, for what he called “disabling professions”; this is what interests me most in his work, this is what I’ve been trying to revisit, trying to recalibrate and reload, in our own professionalised times. I’ve been trying to affirm the nemesis of professionalism: amateurs. Illich said professionals incapacitate ordinary peoples’ ability to fend for themselves, to invent things, to lead innovative lives beyond the thrall of corporations and institutions. Yet Illich’s war against professionalism isn’t so much a celebration of self-survival (letting free market ideology rip) as genuine self-empowerment, a weaning people off their market-dependence. We’ve lost our ability to develop “convivial tools”, he says, been deprived of our use-value capacities, of values systems outside the production and consumption of commodities. We’ve gotten accustomed to living in a supermarket.

Illich’s thinking about professionalisation was partly inspired by Karl Polanyi’s magisterial analysis on the “political and economic origins of our time”, The Great Transformation (Beacon Press, 1944). Since the Stone Age, Polanyi says, markets followed society, developed organically as social relations developed organically, from barter and truck systems, to simple economies in which money was a means of exchange, a mere token of equivalent worth. Markets were always “embedded” (a key Polanyi word) in social relations, always located somewhere within the very fabric of society, whose institutional and political structure “regulated” what markets could and couldn’t do. Regulation and markets thus grew up together, came of age together. So “the emergence of the idea of self-regulation”, says Polanyi, “was a complete reversal of this trend of development … the change from regulated to self-regulated markets at the end of the 18th century represented a complete transformation in the structure of society.”

We’re still coming to terms with this complete transformation, a transformation that, towards the end of the 20th century, has made the “disembedded” economy seem perfectly natural, perfectly normal, something transhistorical, something that always was, right? It’s also a perfectly functioning economy, as economic pundits now like to insist. Entering the 1990s, this disembedded market system bore a new tagline, one that persists: “neoliberalism”. Polanyi’s logic is impeccable: a “market economy can exist only in a market society.”

Inherent vices nonetheless embed themselves in this disembedded economy. Land, labour and money become vital parts of our economic system, of our speculative hunger games. But, says Polanyi, land, labour and money “are obviously not commodities” (his emphasis). “Land is only another name for nature, which is not produced by man”, he says; “labour is only another name for human activity which goes with life itself”; “actual money … is merely a token of purchasing power which, as a rule, is not produced at all, but comes into being through the mechanism of banking or state finance”. Thus “the commodity description of labour, land and money is entirely fictitious”, a commodity fiction, the fiction of commodities.

Still, we live in fictitious times (as filmmaker Michael Moore was wont to say): land, labour and money as commodities provide us with the vital organising principle of our whole society. So fiction remains the truth, and fictitious truth needs defending, needs perpetuating; the postulate must be forcibly yet legitimately kept in place. But kept in place how, and by whom? By, we might say, a whole professional administration, by a whole professional cadre, by a whole professional apparatus that both props up and prospers from these fictitious times. Professionalism is the new regulation of deregulation, the new management of mismanagement, an induced and imputed incapacitation."

"Vernacular values are intuitive knowledges and practical know-how that structure everyday culture; they pivot not so much—as Gramsci says—on common sense as on “good sense”. They’re reasonable intuitions and intuitive reason: words, habits and understandings that inform real social life—the real social life of a non-expert population. Illich reminds us that “vernacular” stems from the Latin vernaculam, meaning “homebred” or “homegrown”, something “homemade”. (We’re not far from the notion of amateur here.) Vernacular is a mode of life and language below the radar of exchange-value; vernacular language is language acquired without a paid teacher; loose, unruly language, heard as opposed to written down. (“Eartalk”, Joyce called it in Finnegans Wake, a language for the “earsighted”.) To assert vernacular values is, accordingly, to assert democratic values, to assert its means through popular participation."

"Illich chips in to add how professionals peddle the privileges and status of the job: they adjudicate its worthiness and rank, while forever tut-tutting those without work. Unemployment “means sad idleness, rather than the freedom to do things that are useful for oneself or for one’s neighbour”. “What counts”, Illich says, “isn’t the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort but the coupling of the labour force with capital. What counts isn’t the achievement of satisfaction that flows from action but the status of the social relationship that commands production—that is, the job, situation, post, or appointment”.

Effort isn’t productive unless it’s done at the behest of some boss; economists can’t deal with a usefulness of people outside of the corporation, outside of stock value, of shareholder dividend, of cost-benefit. Work is only ever productive when its process is controlled, when it is planned and monitored by professional agents, by managers and the managers of managers. Can we ever imagine unemployment as useful, as the basis for autonomous activity, as meaningful social or even political activity?"

"Perhaps, during crises, we can hatch alternative programmes for survival, other methods through which we can not so much “earn a living” as live a living. Perhaps we can self-downsize, as Illich suggests, and address the paradox of work that goes back at least to Max Weber: work is revered in our culture, yet at the same time workers are becoming superfluous; you hate your job, your boss, hate the servility of what you do, and how you do it, the pettiness of the tasks involved, yet want to keep your job at all costs. You see no other way of defining yourself other than through work, other than what you do for a living. Perhaps there’s a point at which we can all be pushed over the edge, voluntarily take the jump ourselves, only to discover other aspects of ourselves, other ways to fill in the hole, to make a little money, to maintain our dignity and pride, and to survive off what Gorz calls a “frugal abundance”.

Perhaps it’s time to get politicised around non-work and undercut the professionalisation of work and life. In opting out, or at least contesting from within, perhaps we can create a bit of havoc, refuse to work as we’re told, and turn confrontation into a more positive device, a will to struggle for another kind of work, where use-value outbids exchange-value, where amateurs prevail over professionals. If, in times of austerity, capitalists can do without workers, then it’s high time workers (and ex-workers) realise that we can do without capitalists, without their professional hacks, and their professional institutions, that we can devise work without them, a work for ourselves. Illich throws down the gauntlet here, challenges us to conceive another de-professionalised, vernacular non-working future. He certainly gets you thinking, has had me thinking, and rethinking, more than a decade after I’ve had any kind of job."
via:javierarbona  ivanillich  professionals  experts  amateurs  economics  conviviality  karlpolanyi  politics  capitalism  neoliberalism  empowerment  self-empowerment  unschooling  deschooling  production  consumption  corporatism  corporations  institutions  self-survival  invention  innovation  markets  society  labor  land  commodities  nature  money  michaelmoore  andymerrifield  bureaucracy  control  systems  systemsthinking  deregulation  regulation  management  incapacitation  work  vernacula  vernacularvalues  values  knowledge  everyday  culture  informal  bullshitjobs  andrégorz  antoniogramsci  marxism  ideleness  freedom  capital  effort  productivity  socialactivism  maxweber  time  toolsforconviviality 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Why the Landline Telephone Was the Perfect Tool - Suzanne Fischer - The Atlantic
"Illich's achievement was a reframing of human relationships to systems and society, in everyday, accessible language. He advocated for the reintegration of community decisionmaking and personal autonomy into all the systems that had become oppressive: school, work, law, religion, technology, medicine, economics. His ideas were influential for 1970s technologists and the appropriate technology movement -- can they be useful today?

In 1971, Illich published what is still his most famous book, Deschooling Society. He argued that the commodification and specialization of learning had created a harmful education system that had become an end in itself. In other words, "the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school." For Illich, language often pointed to how toxic ideas had poisoned the ways we relate to each other. "I want to learn," he said, had been transmuted by industrial capitalism into "I want to get an education," transforming a basic human need for learning into something transactional and coercive. He proposed a restructuring of schooling, replacing the manipulative system of qualifications with self-determined, community-supported, hands-on learning. One of his suggestions was for "learning webs," where a computer could help match up learners and those who had knowledge to share. This skillshare model was popular in many radical communities.

With Tools for Conviviality (1973), Illich extended his analysis of education to a broader critique of the technologies of Western capitalism. The major inflection point in the history of technology, he asserts, is when, in the life of each tool or system, the means overtake the ends. "Tools can rule men sooner than they expect; the plow makes man the lord of the garden but also the refugee from the dust bowl." Often this effect is accompanied by the rise in power of a managerial class of experts; Illich saw technocracy as a step toward fascism. Tools for Conviviality points out the ways in which a helpful tool can evolve into a destructive one, and offers suggestions for how communities can escape the trap.

So what makes a tool "convivial?" For Illich, "tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used, by anybody, as often or as seldom as desired, for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user." That is, convivial technologies are accessible, flexible, and noncoercive. Many tools are neutral, but some promote conviviality and some choke it off. Hand tools, for Illich, are neutral. Illich offers the telephone as an example of a tool that is "structurally convivial" (remember, this is in the days of the ubiquitous public pay phone): anyone who can afford a coin can use it to say whatever they want. "The telephone lets anybody say what he wants to the person of his choice; he can conduct business, express love, or pick a quarrel. It is impossible for bureaucrats to define what people say to each other on the phone, even though they can interfere with -- or protect -- the privacy of their exchange."

A "manipulatory" tool, on the other hand, blocks off other choices. The automobile and the highway system it spawned are, for Illich, prime examples of this process. Licensure systems that devalue people who have not received them, such as compulsory schooling, are another example. But these kinds of tools, that is, large-scale industrial production, would not be prohibited in a convivial society. "What is fundamental to a convivial society is not the total absence of manipulative institutions and addictive goods and services, but the balance between those tools which create the specific demands they are specialized to satisfy and those complementary, enabling tools which foster self-realization."

To foster convivial tools, Illich proposes a program of research with "two major tasks: to provide guidelines for detecting the incipient stages of murderous logic in a tool; and to devise tools and tool systems that optimize the balance of life, thereby maximizing liberty for all." He also suggests that pioneers of a convivial society work through the legal and political systems and reclaim them for justice. Change is possible, Illich argues. There are decision points. We cannot abdicate our right to self-determination, and to decide how far is far enough. "The crisis I have described," says Illich, "confronts people with a choice between convivial tools and being crushed by machines."

Illich's ideas on technology, like his ideas on schooling, were influential among those who spent the 1970s thinking that we might be on the cusp of another world. Some of those utopians included early computer innovators, who saw the culture of sharing, self-determination, and DIY that they lived as something that should be baked into tools.

Computing pioneer Lee Felsenstein has spoken about the direct influence Tools for Conviviality on his work. For him, Illich's description of radio as a convivial tool in Central America was a model for computer development: "The technology itself was sufficiently inviting and accessible to them that it catalyzed their inherent tendencies to learn. In other words, if you tried to mess around with it, it didn't just burn out right away. The tube might overheat, but it would survive and give you some warning that you had done something wrong. The possible set of interactions, between the person who was trying to discover the secrets of the technology and the technology itself, was quite different from the standard industrial interactive model, which could be summed up as 'If you do the wrong thing, this will break, and God help you.' ... And this showed me the direction to go in. You could do the same thing with computers as far as I was concerned." Felsenstein described the first meeting of the legendary Homebrew Computer Club, where 30 or so people tried to understand the Altair together, as "the moment at which the personal computer became a convivial technology."

In 1978, Valentina Borremans of CIDOC prepared a Reference Guide to Convivial Tools. This guide to resources listed many of the new ideas in 1970s appropriate technology -- food self-sufficiency, earth-friendly home construction, new energy sources. But our contemporary convivial tools are mostly in the realm of communications. At their best, personal computers, the web, mobile technology, the open source movement, and the maker movement are contemporary convivial tools. What other convivial technologies do we use today? What tools do we need to make more convivial? Ivan Illich would exhort us to think carefully about the tools we use and what kind of world they are making."
ivanillich  2012  suzannefischer  technology  technogracy  conviviality  unschooling  deschoooling  education  philosophy  history  society  valentinaborremans  leefelsenstein  telephone  landlines  radio  self-determination  diy  grassroots  democracy  computing  computers  internet  web  tools  justice  flexibility  coercion  schools  schooling  openstudioproject  lcproject  learningwebs  credentials  credentialism  learning  howwelearn  commodification  business  capitalism  toolsforconviviality 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Evgeny Morozov: Hackers, Makers, and the Next Industrial Revolution
"The kind of Internet metaphysics that informs Anderson’s account sees ingrained traits of technology where others might see a cascade of decisions made by businessmen and policymakers. This is why Anderson starts by confusing the history of the Web with the history of capitalism and ends by speculating about the future of the maker movement, which, on closer examination, is actually speculation on the future of capitalism. What Anderson envisages—more of the same but with greater diversity and competition—may come to pass. But to set the threshold for the third industrial revolution so low just because someone somewhere forgot to regulate A.T. & T. (or Google) seems rather unambitious [...]

[Homebrew Computer Club leader] Felsenstein took [Ivan] Illich’s advice to heart, not least because it resembled his own experience with ham radios, which were easy to understand and fiddle with. If the computer were to assist ordinary folks in their political struggles, the computer needed a ham-radio-like community of hobbyists. Such a club would help counter the power of I.B.M., then the dominant manufacturer of large and expensive computers, and make computers smaller, cheaper, and more useful in political struggles.

Then Steve Jobs showed up. Felsenstein’s political project, of building computers that would undermine institutions and allow citizens to share information and organize, was recast as an aesthetic project of self-reliance and personal empowerment. For Jobs, who saw computers as “a bicycle for our minds,” it was of only secondary importance whether one could peek inside or program them.

Jobs had his share of sins, but the naïveté of Illich and his followers shouldn’t be underestimated. Seeking salvation through tools alone is no more viable as a political strategy than addressing the ills of capitalism by cultivating a public appreciation of arts and crafts. 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

[...] A reluctance to talk about institutions and political change doomed the Arts and Crafts movement, channelling the spirit of labor reform into consumerism and D.I.Y. tinkering. The same thing is happening to the movement’s successors. Our tech imagination is at its zenith [but our institutional imagination has stalled, and with it the democratizing potential of radical technologies]. We carry personal computers in our pockets—nothing could be more decentralized than this!—but have surrendered control of our data, which is stored on centralized servers, far away from our pockets. The hackers won their fight against I.B.M.—only to lose it to Facebook and Google. And the spooks at the National Security Agency must be surprised to learn that gadgets were supposed to usher in the “de-institutionalization of society.”"
technology  computer  gadget  history  criticism  intellectualproperty  data  labor  remake  regulation  transparency  power  inequality  hierarchy  privacy  politics  diy  consumers  consumerism  apple  ivanillich  google  evgenymorozov  ip  makermovement  making  makers  capitalism  chrisanderson  2014  via:Taryn  toolsforconviviality  leefelsenstein  technosolutionism  stevejobs  stewartbrand  wholeearthcatalog  tools  murraybookchin  society  homebrewers  institutions  change  reforms  conviviality 
january 2014 by robertogreco
"Beta-Local es una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a apoyar y promover la práctica y el pensamiento estético a través de varios programas:

La Práctica, una programa post-académico centrado el pensamiento estético y la producción artística mediante el cual becarios de diversas disciplinas llevan un proyecto desde conceptualización hasta presentación mediante procesos abiertos y frecuentemente colaborativos.

The Harbor, un programa de residencias artísticas, a través del cual artistas, arquitectos y otros hacedores residen en Beta-Loca y desarrollan proyectos o talleres.

La Ivan Illich, una plataforma mediante la cual cualquier persona puede proponer una clase que puede ofrece o que quiere tomar,

y un nutrido programa público de exhibicions, charlas, Pin-ups (críticas abiertas), muestras, exhibiciones y publicaciones.

Nuestra biblioteca de consulta, La Esquina está abierta al público un día a la semana y por cita."

[video (in English): ]

"Beta-Local is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting aesthetic thought and practice through various programs:

La Práctica, a post-academic study and production program, through which Fellows coming from diverse disciplines take a project from concept to production.

The Harbor: a residency program for visiting international artists, architects, designers and other cultural producers. Visitors to Beta-Local, develop projects, workshops and offer lectures on a variety of subjects related to art and other creative disciplines to the general public and to La Práctica Fellows.

La Ivan Illich, an open experimental school through which the participating public suggests, requests and creates courses and workshops.

and a full schedule of public programming which includes exhibitions, lectures, Pin-ups (open critiques), screenings and publications.

We also have a small reference library, La Esquina, focused on art and designopen once a week to the general public."
puertorico  ivanillich  education  art  arts  learning  colearning  via:javierarbona  studios  residencies  lcproject  freeschools  artmaking  materials  society  research  workinginpublic  tonycruz  pabloguardiola  michymaxuach  toolsforconviviality  conviviality  bosqueauxiliar  tooltotool  collaboration  socialpracticeart  walking  politics  beta-local 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Leigh Blackall: A summary of Chet Bowers, The false promises of constructivist theories of learning: a global and ecological critique
"The globalization of West’s view of economic & technological development is now being accompanied by aggressive promotion of Western values & ways of thinking—through TV & Hollywood films, & by Western universities that have established in public’s mind what constitutes high & low-status knowledge. High-status knowledge, which is represented as basis of modernization, includes the assumption that the individual is the basic social unit, the source of intelligence & moral judgment; that literacy & other abstract forms of representation for encoding and communicating knowledge lead to a more rational & progressive mode of being; that change is the expression of progress; that Western science & tech are both culturally neutral & at same time the highest expression of rational thought; that cultural development is governed by laws of natural selection…; & that the major challenge is to bring nature under human control & to exploit it in ways that help to expand economic markets."
pedagogy  constructivism  critique  leighblackall  chetbowers  neo-colonialism  colonialism  johndewey  paulofreire  jeanpiaget  culture  democracy  ecology  ideology  education  teaching  conviviality  ivanillich  commons  culturalimperialism  knowledge  progress  economics  growth  sustainability  literacy  piaget  toolsforconviviality 
may 2011 by robertogreco

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