Monday, February 28, 2005


Schools, including universities, are a major finger in the hand(s) that control markets. Schools, including universities, are used to sort who goes where and at what pace in our society.
Where the society is comprised of human beings, schools can help recognize and promote talent. Where the society had been body- and mind-snatched, automata replacing humans, other criteria apply. If I were a robot I too would probably prefer C3PO to John Donne or John Milton.

pk has been through all that again and again, but here's a new tack: actually, a side track.

Once upon a time someone cultivated a potato in order to harvest and eat it: or at least to sell it. In modern markets all sorts of other considerations come into play. One may cultivate a million bushels of potatoes, and harvest them, only to dump them off a cliff: keep the price up: maybe to spite somebody ...

Of course Bucky Fuller said that the basic purpose of higher education was to keep young bucks out of circulation, so the old bucks didn't have to fight them.
So I just have to repeat a story told at in a different connection:
The Philadelphia lawyer I first did art tax shelters with in 1978 got antsy about art shelters for 1979. Instead of just financing graphic multiples that few expected to sell or oil wells where no one expected to find oil (neither would they try very hard), or indy movies with budgets that assured the films' non-completion, Mr. Solomon Liberty, Esq. sold time shares in a railroad freight car permanently parked on a rusty side railing not even connected to the system of railroad tracks. A thirty minute share would lose the reluctant tax payer a quick $30,000.
When I went to graduate school, I was using its rusty labyrinth for my own purposes. I was in no great hurry to butt heads with the old stags.
But once I was ready – anxious, had something to say, something important – I couldn't find a single old stag willing to take on a real challenge.

Had the robots been switched in while I wasn't looking? Or had the switch been completed before I arrived? I'm not sure, but 1968 ... early 1970s really was a time when the fed put the screws to the open-beaked begging institutions, processing only establishment orthodoxy. The old stags have no idea how to battle: their puissance has been bestowed on them by magic, by fiat. No fake society can risk injury to its expensive stage properties, its fake faculty.

The labyrinth, despite its low top, was bottomless.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

All Information

The universe contains all the information in the universe, but not by a system conveniently accessible to sentiences. A human information storage system, to hold all the information in the universe, would have to be bigger than the universe, significantly bigger: but we are not competent to perceive, let alone gather, such information.
A sentience's information storage system can only deal with part of the information, and even so it must select.
Yet, have the information storage systems used thus far by civilizations been wise in their selections?
I think not.
What pk opposes is politically determined selections. That is, institutions promote orthodoxy, ignore (or burn) dissent, label it heresy.

In church my attempts to see universality in religion were harshly discouraged by the adults in charge. Was my thesis "true"? I don't think so now. Nevertheless, the church was cutting off inquiry at its roots.
In school my attempts to celebrate jazz were rudely cut off. Without apology, the teacher who'd given me permission to play a recording for the class, scraped the needle across the grooves, ruining my record, in her haste to censor the "jungle music" once it had commenced. My high school agreed to allow a jazz concert for charity, then violated contract after contract with its arbitrary powers. In college I didn't dare say what I thought. Despite these experiences, my desire to be one of those who monopolized the head of the class, that is, a teacher, prompted me to endure graduate school. The graduate school took my money but wouldn't listen if I had anything interesting to say: and by "interesting," I mean non-standard perception. My vision of Shakespeare's sonnets as warring meta-oxymora which recapitulated the dynamic conflict between Christian orthodoxy and the epistemological heresy of nominalism was interrupted and insulted: unheard: undiscussed: still awaiting analysis or legitimate challenge.

But, through Ivan Illich's design for Learning Webs, I'd already found, had already offered, the solution.
Deregulate information. Disestablish the information regulators: the schools, the universities, the media ... Replace them with a free market place for information.

Would all viable information flourish in a free market? I didn't think so. People are seldom ready for innovative perceptions or solutions: we're so used to our problems as they are: and we're addicted to our failed remedies. Still, let the public itself be responsible for its failings: fire the keepers.

Thus, in simple:
List public resources (and by public I mean volunteered)

List volunteered interests (so people can match themselves)
Publish feedback
from the resources
from the consumers

In 1970 when I offered to be the public librarian for all public information, there were no PCs. There was no internet (just my offer of one). But there were mainframes, and time could be rented. For a pittance (compared to managed information budgets, the public could have freed itself, first of the monopoly of schools, then of all restricted markets: Time-Life, the AMA, the fed ...

Monday, February 21, 2005

To School Or Not to School

In 1970 Ivan Illich began publishing his design for Learning Webs: a set of information repositories by which a society could map its resources: bottom-up. A Learning Web was to list the community's tools available for learning: both human and inanimate. The web would also list information volunteered by individuals so that people could know with whom they might form their own learning circles: bull sessions, practice or discussion groups ... see who they might want to see a movie with or join in a walk. The Learning Web must also publish feedback both from the resources and from the users of the Web: "teachers," "experts" ... may evaluate fellow experts; students, consumers ... may evaluate the resources. If you hire a math teacher, and you say she raped you, the community should have an opportunity to know that you say so.
The Learning Web would not endorse its content: merely list it. Users should do their own evaluating via the Feedback option. Thus, incompetence as well as dangerous behavior would be exposed.

In 1970 pk got very excited by Illich's design. Here was the perfect mechanism for the global village I'd by then seen forecast for a decade. I told Illich that I'd actually do it: become the librarian for the bottom-up community. Anyone who would listen, few as they were, I told that the same design naturally extended to all possible kinds of free markets: doctors, farmers, mechanics ...

Three by five cards could begin the record keeping. With increasing traffic, time on a main frame would be necessary. Star IBM programmers were ready for a pittance to write the software.

By 1975 we should have been in Nirvana. The Web of any community should link with the Webs of any other communities.
Instead what we had was the same-old same-old: politics, wars, elections ... top-down, managed markets, no modern possibly able to figure out the real price any anything from food to shelter to medicine to roads and gas.

By 1975 pk was barely able to stay alive, barely able to keep issuing the message. In 1995 my views on many things had changed; but not my view that the public should be told of the window of opportunity that had closed forever by the mid-1970s. PCs are private, not public: and expensive: especially where the industry is coordinated with planned obsolescence. Hardware and software prices may come down but the budget for them goes up and up. Mainframe time would merely have come down and down: and a community could have subsidized the resourceless with little effort (so long as the population doesn't explode out of bounds).

Ten years of such online scribbling have made my directories a mess, and few people seem to understand the message any better in 2005 than did in 1970. Any god at any judgment should have an easy time showing the public that it has never heard key messages in time for salvation of any sort. I'd rather be a fifteen thousand and sixth unpublished Jesus than Pope of any funded church. (The Church had thrown Illich out before he had designed his Web, lending credence to my conviction that the message was indeed divine.)

Anyway, as awful as the internet that the magicians palmed onto us is, blogging may just solve some of my scribbling problems. Launching an module takes minutes; posting a blog entry can be accomplished in seconds. Then, I can worry about better ordering

Illich Learning Webs