I like to write things down, especially when I think they’ll be important. A really cool aspect of Actor-Network theory (ANT) is that people respond to and are influenced by artifacts in the world, even if they created them. For example, I write down an idea. The paper with that idea, replicates the echo chamber effect of its importance to me, but if that paper is broadcast to an audience, I can be removed from the venue and still be impactful.
ANT should be popular with artists as often times an artist is trying to communicate a message and leave an impression behind. For example, I can no longer speak to Michelangelo yet I can “hear” his influence echoed throughout history in sculptures and paintings; inspiring for generations beyond the original conception of the idea and the person.
So too can we do this with code that’s been imbued with philosophical principles. Political Artifacts, is a concept that any technology created is done so with a certain set of ideals. This ideals, philosophies, politics all live on and are potentially enforced greater in impact then the person who held them. A powerful (awful) example comes from racist architects in the early 20th century who intentionally made bridges too low for public transportation. These road that buses couldn’t go on would lead to wealthier areas of the city and through this simple (yet intentional) design “flaw”, the “artist” (as terrible as he was) is able to ensure that poor people don’t go into rich neighborhoods.
So why do I lay this backstory and provide an obscure notebook drawing? I am very intentionally trying to structure technology to send a message. If the motive of the developer is important to understanding how and why one should use technology, it is paramount that you understand the motives if you are able to trust; otherwise, what’s to say we’re not just “building the new monster but at least it’s your monster” as someone framed it to me recently.
Because we’re setting things in motion to prevent the emergence of monsters. We’re not building just a platform, we’re building a platform to help you rise up out of the cave and to help bring your coworkers out with you (see Plato’s Allegory of the Cave). We know that you can’t fix government and education by becoming part of the problem, you have to forge a new path. We are trying to eliminate the possibility of such corruption emerging.
And in doing so, we come to our picture in question. “Big Seed Vendor” has proprietary seed technology and seeds intentionally engineered to not reproduce (terminator seeds as they are called). There are conflicting reports as to if this happens but the notion that these proprietary seeds blowing into someone else’s farm really stuck with me (true or not, the concept). IP right would still allow “Big Seed Vendor” to go after the farmer who’s land this has blown on to and started to germinate because, as I said, it is proprietary IP.
The visual is from a bus ride when I was early 20s and I knew it would be important. We don’t want to allow the seeds of elms to blow onto other farms simply to have someone come after another “farmer” for not using their flavor (Jewel2 much, “Open source” masqueraders?). In fact, we actively want nature to take its course and randomly distribute dense forests of innovation across the globe. This is the dribs and drabs I speak of and why I stick to the phrase. We want to be everywhere and in everything (eventually, everyone).
I, will not rest, until these unattainable dream are realized. That’s what dreamers do, they shoot for impossible “knowing” they will fall short. Every day since creating this I’ve felt I would die unhappy, knowing I could have just done more. I could have released more code, I could have solved more problems and made the world an even better place. It was at this time I grew up, and seemingly fell into madness (as I’ve detailed before) or maybe I just realized that the entire focus of my life is to advance the ball as far down the field as I can until I have to lay it down and allow my children to pick it up and run with it. Regardless, I have to tilt the playing field in their favor, in the favor of everyone’s children.
This world can be so much more to so many people, if we speak openly and donate freely. We were made to be so much more. Don’t let anyone limit your potential and ensure you always speak to unlock it in others. The endless (FREE) well of innovation in the educational technology market is not some utopian ideal (and if it were, I’d rather dream of bliss then dwell for despair).
Our children deserve the best educational experiences, avenues, and outlets. Let’s work together to ensure we allow others to germinate and breed new, better forms of pedagogy and technology that connect with students to avoid the emergence and propagation of more terminator seeds.