Does technological progress change the human condition? Techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci took the time to speak with Martin Eiermann about the rise of Al Jazeera, accelerating change and the conventions of online interaction.
Zeynep Tufekci is an American sociologist, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina and a fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the intersection of technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter at @techsoc.
Tufekci: The question about causality is not very fruitful when framed as an either/or. First, “online” is part of the real world. What the online does is reconfigure and augment the “offline” to open up new spaces and to allow new forms of connectivity, coordination and collaboration. Second, revolutions are always multi-causal.
Open source hardware could be a revolutionary tool for unlocking our shackles to profit motivated, proprietary innovation. It has a vision to alleviate poverty through empowering decentralized and affordable, small scale production. Participants anywhere in the world can use the internet to access, improve, or adapt designs for local manufacturing and drastically increase the rate of innovation.
Open Tech Forever (OTF) is emerging to become a new force in open source hardware development by building an open source factory where it will produce open technology. OTF recently launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 to build the facility, and they need your support. As a cooperatively-owned social enterprise, all of its innovation will be transparently documented in writing, graphics and video, and released under a Creative Commons license.
OTF’s mission is to “facilitate cooperation among the communities that live on the frontlines of suffering throughout the world, so that we can build enduring solutions to poverty and the destruction of the environment.” OTF co-founder, Aaron Makaruk explains, “An entirely new economic frontier stands before us, a world where innovation and wealth are mass produced as easily as a file is downloaded to a computer. Our goal is to use local, open source factories to outcompete companies that import unsustainable products manufactured in inhuman conditions and put them out of business – one locally-owned, open source company at a time.”
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Relocalizing manufacturing is one of the most significant steps we can take to prepare for the destabilizing effects of climate change and to empower local communities to build resilient, self-sustaining economies. OTF, with its passionate team of skilled engineers and radical mission, will be an exciting project to watch as it grows over the next couple years and a great cause to support through its first phase of development.
Collaboration, Peer production, Peer networks, Crowdsourcing….the more I read about these topics the more I understand the enormous opportunities for social development and governance that are already out there. But at the same time, there are some new challenges to address.
For every new concept introduced in Government 3.0 I have the same reaction. First, I am all confused about it. Second, I start to understand it, but at the same time it always looks kind of utopian or not really applicable in the government field. And finally, I find some practical examples and ideas that allow me to think that these concepts are in fact both interesting and feasible.
We are at this moment in history when we can say with certainty that open source hardware (OSHW) is economically viable. The video below tells the success story of Adafruit Industries. Barely formed, this business model relying on OSHW might already be obsolete. A new model, the open value network, is already threatening to transform the landscape of the open source economy. This article explains why.
Most people find it counter-intuitive that companies can survive in a highly competitive capitalistic environment, designing and distributing high tech products, giving away their recipes, AND allowing (even encouraging) everyone else to copy them, WITH THE RIGHT TO MAKE COMMERCIAL USE.
If you don’t believe it, stop wasting your time arguing against it. It is real, it is here, you better understand it fast before the world changes around you, leaving you an alien in your own surroundings.
The business around open innovation cannot be learned in school. It belongs to a new economic paradigm. Old arguments don’t apply anymore, because the semantics and the logic are not the same. Some time ago, we published the article How to play the open game in the present and future economy, which tries to capture the essence of sustainable open innovation. You should revisit this article from time to time, becausewe’ll continue to improve it.
The most successful ventures build around OSHW, like Arduino, Adafruit, Sparkfun, etc., can only be understood within their larger ecosystem. We can identify two main structures: a commercial entity and a community. The commercial entity is a classical form, usually a corporation or a co-op. It takes care of manufacturing, insures quality, structures and integrates the feedback from the community into new products, nurtures the community, performs legal functions, integrates all the transactional logistics (storage, shipping, payment), and provides services. The community plays different roles: consumers of products, provide feedback on products, provide new designs, spread the buzz, educate new members of the community and provide help, etc.
To answer this question, we need to clarify specifically what is being asked. Almost everywhere you look when searching for the answer to this question, you won’t find the answer to what a Bitcoin is, but rather what it does, or otherwise how bitcoins work in conjunction with one another as a system. What most people are asking however when first introduced to Bitcoin, is really what Bitcoin is at its most granular level. Most often, it is this step of the explanation that is missed resulting in a stumpling block to understand how bitcoins work together as a system. So what is a bitcoin? The answer to this question is that, at its most basic fundamental level, an individual bitcoin is simply a computer record. You can think of a bitcoin as a computer file such as a word document, an email, or a photo image. What makes a bitcoin file special, and makes it different from any other files that you might have on your computer, is that once a bitcoin file is created, the original record can always identified within the bitcoin user community.
So why does everywhere else I look say that Bitcoin is a new kind of money?
When you generally attempt to find the answer to what bitcoin is, you often find answers such as “Bitcoin is a decentralized Crypto-currency”, “It’s a peer-to-peer virtual money”, or “It’s a open-source revolutionary digital comodity.” Rather than identifying what an individual bitcoin is however, such answers are describing how bitcoins are used. These descriptions are not describing what an individual bitcoin is, but rather how the bitcoin network or system is used to create a digital currency. Of course, the purpose for the creation of bitcoins was, in fact, to create such a monetary system, however to properly understand Bitcoin as a system, it is necessary to first understand what bitcoin is at it’s most basic level.