Collapsing information economies

I used to start my presentations with my kids and say, this is for them. I stopped as it wasn’t really professional and people didn’t really know what to make of what I was saying, cause they didn’t know me. I, didn’t know me. But I think this process that has seen lots of documenting nation building over the last 8 years has finally allowed me to be completely honest.

We’re not building a platform. We’re not building a product. Because to most people, most of society. Technology, doesn’t, matter. What does matter, is changing the way people think. Changing where they view power as stemming from. Who has authority to dictate their existence. These are ideals we can imbue technology with.

So when I get asked what I’m after (because it’s starting to become obvious that I’m not honest) I stop, and am honest. Change. We are building a change agent. Every day, every line, every support request. We are building what ever is necessary to challenge the status quo that would have you go into a vendor room and pick from the trinkets.

And then do it again the next year. and the next. Endless support contracts and nearly worthless code that you don’t own (you just rent silly). It is a platform intended to liberate, to open your eyes to new ways of thinking; to inspire and to enact change. A symbol.

The way to alter the face of markets is not to participate in them and simply lower costs. That works for a time and certainly helps people be able to afford and access technology. I’m not talking about lowering costs though, I’m talking about eliminating costs.

If the educational technology market worked like big Pharma; you’d see (yes I know they fudge things but it’s the idea) forced innovation and force progress through the inability to hold a long term patent. The same should be true of software.

It is morally reprehensible to produce a product, spin it out via Jenkins (free), on to servers running linux (free), with web requests handled by apache (free) or cached in any number of other free code bases / architecture (Pound, Varnish, Memcache…), then have people pay for code you wrote in php/python/go (free) that talks to a database backend (which is free) and then nicely delivers to the end user’s browser (which is free) and does some nice interactive things in Javascript / Jquery (WHICH ARE BOTH FREE).

The entire stack for a developer of the software you use every day is, and will increasingly become, free. How is it justified to copy and paste a command with a different name, hundreds of thousands of times and produce millions upon millions of dollars. For a time, yes, that’s absolutely required to recoup costs.

So how do we end the cycle? Do we join the system of control that others have helped establish a “customer base” for us? No. The information altruist would declare war against the system of control and effectively eliminate the ability for there to be a customer base.

Think I’m crazy? This is ridiculous, no one will ever do it and it’s utopian. Oh, that’s cool, ever hear of Wikipedia or an Encyclopedia? Or perhaps Mozilla vs Internet Explorer? No, no bells. How about David Wiley and Open Educational Resources? What’s the point of OER (if you ask hard liners)? It’s to eliminate a corrupt and dead publishing industry. eliminate. Not “Join the market and make money in a more ethical way” (non hardliner argument). It is to eliminate the ability to make money in the same way ever again (free book, want to print it? Ok, that costs a couple bucks; totally new relationship and information is “free”).

We are capable of amazing things when we join forces and see each other as equal partners, instead of cattle and ranchers. We can build amazing things when we don’t seek simply to join systems of control, but to liberate them.

Who will you liberate in your life time?


One comment

  1. juststormy · September 30, 2015

    I also like that this ends the culture of “no.” “No, we can’t do it – it’s insecure.” “No, it takes too much time.” “No, we don’t want to.” It’s time to say something other than “no.” Nice post.

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