The Pedagogy of Emancipatory Technology


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A brief informal talk from the Social Technology Conference in Toronto October 23, 2010 ( It jumbles together some thoughts I've been having about the shortcomings of the Free Software framework for dealing with social change. It's also missing some pictures to which I didn't really have the rights -- so you can imagine it in a slightly prettier version...

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  • ** What FS offers us
    *The four freedoms of FS -- to run, change, copy, and redistribute -- are a powerful "social technology" that guarantee important rights to the users of software --
    *that's in a legal sense.
    *In a social sense, they create conditions that encourage certain forms of sociality -- the LUG, the software dev list, the patch system, etc. *Free Software, then, /guarantees/ the 4 freedoms, but/encourages/ social transformations as well.
  • **** for people who already want to hack, FS is fantastic.
  • But for those w/out hacking skills/inclination, it isn't nearly so great.
    **** FS works great /if you're already living with a certian relaiton to software technologies// --
    **** what I call an 'emancipated' relationship.
    So to make FS meaningful, we need to cultivate an /emancipated/ relation to technology
  • *** The whole point of change the way we relate to technology
    Technologies enable us in many ways:
    - extend our capacities to move, sense, think.
    but can limit us as ell:
    - when yr car breaks down & you can't think how to get around
    - new relation that fixes this...
    *** so ET doesn't reference a property of the technology itself, but a mode of relating to the technology, which allows it to open up new possibilities & expand your horizons
  • *** Kantian sense of autonomy, self-governance, giving of the rule to oneself
    - why do we care about freedom?
    - free rational agents who are the source of the authority behind the very moral laws that bind us
    - when you give yourself the law, your ethical status changes, as do your possibioities for action. we become free by being agents of the rules that govern us
  • the formation of the self is the proper aim of education (cf. fr. /formation/). What does it take to put people in charge of their own technological possibilities.
  • b/c what matters most is this /relation/, it's never sufficient to simply give someone a piece of technology.
  • The Pedagogy of Emancipatory Technology

    1. 1. The Pedagogy of Emancipatory Technology Social Tech Conference Toronto, ON 22 Oct 2010
    2. 2. Free Software and Emancipation Four Freedoms ● Run ● Modify ● Copy ● Redistribute
    3. 3. What's Missing? ● Great for Hackers
    4. 4. What's Missing? ● Great for Hackers ● Irrelevant to the rest of us
    5. 5. Emancipatory Technology ● We need to change the way we relate to technology ● So alongside the formal freedoms of Free Software, cultivate substantive freedoms ● Can't create these relations with contracts! ● More than Freedom: Emancipation
    6. 6. Autonomy ● The law we give to ourselves ● How do we create autonomous agents? ● The Bildung tradition
    7. 7. Pedagogy / Bildung ● Education as Cultivation ● Education as Transformation ● Education as Liberation ● The role of Technologies
    8. 8. Some Emancipatory Technologies
    9. 9. The Bicycle ● Intrinsically emancipatory? ● Freedom of Movement ● Sociality ● But it can break
    10. 10. Bikes Not Bombs
    11. 11. Bikes Not Bombs ● Bike skills give to give kids freedom ● Mission of Social Transformation
    12. 12. Bike Pirates ● Autonomously organized collective ● Self-motivated learning
    13. 13. Computer Hardware & Software ● As important as the bicycle? ● And more mystifying to boot
    14. 14. Genderchangers ● Amsterdam-based Women's Self- Education Project ● Explicit focus on self- transformation
    15. 15. Upcycle Schools
    16. 16. Upcycle Schools
    17. 17. Upcycle Schools
    18. 18. Upcycle Schools Social Housing
    19. 19. Upcycle Schools Social Housing Undergraduates
    20. 20. Upcycle Schools Social Housing Undergraduates Next Steps?
    21. 21. Social Change ● It's not about legal structures ● It's not about access ● It's about practices ● What kind of “infrastructure of practice” can we build in Toronto?