If we choose to pry culture away from capitalism, while the rest of life is still capitalistic, culture will become a slum. In fact, online culture increasingly resembles a slum in disturbing ways. Slums have more advertising than wealthy neighborhoods, for instance. People are meaner in slums; mob rule and vigilantism are commonplace.
What free really means is that artists, musicians, writers, and filmmakers will have to cloak themselves within stodgy institutions. We forget what a wonder, what a breath of fresh air it has been to have creative people make their way in the world of commerce, instead of patronage.
Patrons gave us Bach and Michelangelo, but it's unlikely patrons would have given us Vladimir Nabokov, the Beatles, or Stanley Kubrick.
Information systems need to have information in order to run, but information under-represents reality. Demand more from information than it can give, then you end up with monstrous designs.
...[ about No Child Left Behind ]...
What computerized analysis of all the country's school tests has done to education, is exactly what Facebook has done to friendships. In both cases, life is turned into a database. Both degradations are based on the same philosophical mistake, which is the belief that computers can presently represent human thought or human relationships. These are things that computers cannot currently do.
We technologists are ceaselessly intrigued by rituals in which we attempt to pretend that people are obsolete...When people are told that a computer is intelligent, they become prone to changing themselves in order to make the computer appear to work better, instead of demanding that the computer be changed to become more useful.
People already tend to defer to computers, blaming themselves when the digital gadget or online service is hard to use. Treating computers as intelligent, autonomous entities ends up standing the process of engineering on its head. We can't afford to respect our own designs so much.
...but if you want to make the transition from the old religion -- where you hope God will give you an afterlife, to the new religion -- where you hope to become immortal by getting uploaded into a computer, then you have to believe information is real and alive.
So for you, it will be important to redesign human institutions like art, the economy, and the law, to reinforce the perception that information is alive. You demand that the rest of us live your new conception of a state religion. You need us to deify information to reinforce your faith.
[ Sally - interesting to think about humans' conception of immortality -- not necessarily within the context of the information that we put online, but in every facet of our lives, particularly the creation of any sort of media ]
• Don't post anonymously unless you really might be in danger.
• If you put effort into Wikipedia articles, put even more effort into using your personal voice and expression outside of the wiki to help attract people who don't yet realize that they are interested in the topics that you contributed to.
• Create a web site that expresses something about who you are that won't fit into the template available to you on a social networking site.
• Post a video once in a while that took you 100 times more time to create than it takes to view.
• Write a blog post that took weeks of reflection before you heard the inner voice that needed to come out.
• If you are Twittering, innovate in order to find a way to describe your internal state instead of trivial, external events, to avoid the creeping danger of believing that objectively described events define you, as they would define a machine.
These are some of the things you can do to be a person, instead of a source of fragments to be exploited by others.