Thursday, August 29, 2013

Between Empowerment & Patronization: 40 Years IT

… a look back by Matthias Melcher + cautionary tale as subtext
In summer semester 1973, I took my first programming course. This is now forty years ago — time for a retrospect. What were the most impressive steps forward?
....Many of the great novelties ignited hopes that were bigger than the reality emerging later. This was especially the case when the first personal homepages promised a big democratizing effect. I dreamt that these (after being registered in the various decentralized branches of a virtual library) would offer me a direct glimpse onto the book-(mark) shelves of scholars across the globe — without mediators, gatekeepers, or pay walls. Then later, RSS seemed to be another try on this any-to-any topology. I should have known that this was at odds with monopolizing interests whose patronization and stultification goes so far....No doubt, these 40 years were exciting.
Between Empowerment and Patronization: 40 Years IT | x28’s new Blog

Saturday, August 17, 2013

David Graeber, ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’ »

David Graeber, ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’ »:
But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all of the people whose job it is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”
…in Strike! Magazine.
How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way … to ensure that rage is directly precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems to be a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A would without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish…