The commercialization of ideological development is perhaps the worst thing to grow out of our current system of capitalism. Patenting and copyrighting at their inception where intended to grow society as a whole by only temporarily protecting inventors and innovators. That protection was intended as a means of encouragement, as only a portion of a puzzle whose whole was societal evolution. Over time though, in the name of the almighty dollar, we have slowly given the reigns of our laws and cultural development over to massive corporations. Such entities have basically become our shared culture. Its rather unfortunate, too. Taken all together, they are pretty terrible at the whole greater good thing.

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Who owns the C major chord? What about the pitch of 440 Hz? Perhaps you can’t own such fundamental properties of the way our universe works (yet), but some artists and licensing corporations are sure trying their hardest. Its reasonable to want a payday for something you’ve made, but the…

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Its been a crazy year. Amidst the diversity of opinion about the various events, I’ve been struck by the incredible impact social media has on not just the methods of political discourse, but on the content too. Questions of censorship today don’t look how they did 20 years ago. Corporate rights vs individual rights aside, the biggest factor is a kind of semi-democratic process: The popularity contest. Individuals silence or support each other by their attention alone. Social media has given the popularity contest power even to sway corporations or to get things “canceled” by the light speed swaying of public opinion. Free speech today lives and dies by hashtags and re-shares.

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Addressing cancel culture is difficult for the same reasons addressing fascism, communism, or anarchy is difficult: Its a power system with multiple layers of complexity and nuance. For a clear example of this unclearness, look no further than this statement from Tammie Teclemariam about getting a CEO fired: “Its unfortunate…

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Open source is a beautiful thing. It is development, not merely by democracy, but by a grassroots “do it yourself” attitude. An open source project represents a collective will to meet some need or scratch some creative itch. Contributors gain valuable experience while giving back to a community or a solution they like or believe in. But all those things are double edged. If the collective will dries up, so does the project. If the features you need don’t coincide with the collective will, don’t count on them maturing at any rate other than uncertain (or get off your butt and do it yourself). Open source takes strong leadership, unrelenting interest, and some amount of active involvement on users’ parts to keep it dependable in the long term. However, when all that happens, such projects are easily some of the most dependable pieces of software around.

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My life is disconnected. I have no idea how the philosophy or morality of my way of life helps shape the world. I’m not so different from my society at large. Somehow, we have bought into the myth that we can consume and grow infinitely. Suggestions otherwise are met with vague notions that, eventually, technology will catch up; assertions that there is no problem, really. Well, there is a problem and its worse than unchecked consumption. It is our collective disconnection from the reality of circumstances and consequences. There is no, and can be no, technological solution for that: It can only be solved behaviorally.

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“Who has the bigger brains in the animal world, the predators, or the prey?” Dr. Seth Nielson asked in a lecture. “Its just not true that ‘well I run faster, so I out run my prey’. Almost never works that way… Predators almost always have the bigger brains.” While Dr…

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Things, Thoughts, and Questionable Conclusions

Things, Thoughts, and Questionable Conclusions

Technology, society, and ethics; a blog from Masson Christofferson, written for a university class.