Sunday, November 15, 2009

Three Internets

You'll see the world clearest if you realize that there have been at least three internets: different, incompatible. First try to understand the internet of local community human resource data bases that I offered to keep and make cybernetic which I and my Illich-inspired Free Learning Exchange, Inc. offered in 1970. My internet was intended as an alternative information system / market place to the state-dominated schools and heavy industrial heavy capital dominated markets we were already pummeled by. The state compels us to study English for twelve years under some string of state-licensed morons. Left alone we could study English for twenty years, or for none: our choice. The watchword for FLEX's proposed internet was free: as in freedom, as in liberty. In other words, my associates and I were offering a purified version of what the state claimed to give but actually made impossible.

(I admit that there was a first internet before mine: a "zero" internet as it were: the internet I'd imagined, and wasn't alone in imagining, as I read futurists: Arthur C. Clarke, Marshall McLuhan, Bucky Fuller (and talked with in Bucky's case) ... But I was the first dreamer to say aloud and in public that I'd do it. (Denis Detzel had spoken before me, but not publicly the best I can tell. My FLEX was on the street in NYC ahead of his Learning Exchange in Evanston.))

Then by the late 1980s there was the internet that universities and university students talked and joked over. But my internet was for everybody, no matter how poor; the universities' internet was exclusive, privileged almost by definition. But it, like mine, was anarchic in other ways. One got published because one had something to say; not because one had the backing of Alfred A. Knopf & Co.

Now Fourth, meretricious beyond belief, today's familiar internet. Run by robots, for robots. More mindless hysterical consumerism.

My internet would have functioned in the ancient Greek tradition: Socrates, Plato, etc: ideally (if not actually) seeking clarity. This internet I now publish this post on is dominated by banners, intrusive ads, popups ... You ask for one things, but first the robots give you something else.

My ideal was like a dictionary: any word could be there, organized by a simple principle: the alphabet, following a known order: A, B, C ... Look up the word "acrobat": no Coke ad should pop up and smack you in the eye. You shouldn't need to fret while an 800 pixel color picture of Pamela Anderson's ass blocks the word "acrobat."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Universities: Cultural Sales Tool

Churches used to pretend that they were a doorway to truth. Some still pretend that. But more and more of us (few of us any too rational either) see that they're but sales tools for butressing the dominance of some superstitions profitable to the priests; not to the culture. Rational discussion is neigh impossible anywhere near a church: of any denomination. Ah: so those who see the fraud flock to universities.

Universities currently pretend that they are a doorway to truth: they pretend that they're honestly trying even if they don't yet claim infallibility.

Ivan Illich showed that schools weren't what they seemed. A few people, very few, actually got the point. So how come no one has allowed my extension of his points, extending "school" to include universities? I say that universities are for the most part merely secular churches: sales tools for maintaining the epistemological errors of our top-down controlled, big-capital-controlled marketplace culture.

Rational discussion is neigh impossible anywhere near a university.

(Boy! And if you think the university is bad, try dealing with the public! with the media!! with the government!!!