[iDC] Can DIY education be crowdsourced?

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 22:48:56 UTC 2011

On 09/07/2011 03:01 PM, Ed Keller wrote:

> We might ask,
> thinking across a 25-75 year timeframe,
> what techniques of information distribution will make us most likely to
> learn rapidly enough to offset the
> massive disruptions and catastrophic risks that climate change alone may
> create.

Of course it's a great question. But it would be unfortunate to assume 
that "technique" can only be technological.

The Fordist pattern of production/consumption gave us climate change. It 
made a neat aesthetic separation between the smoke-belching factory and 
two private bubbles: the suburban home (a consuming platform centered 
around the TV) and the car (an imaginary of boundless liberation buoyed 
by the radio). The car functioned in reality to connect the factory and 
the home with invisible contrails of CO2; but this was not the only 
toxic residue of the system. Under the Fordist pattern, industrial 
development was secured by the control of the individual consumer 
through the seductions of credit and advertising.

Back in the day (20 years ago) there were powerful hopes that 
computer-mediated communications could break this pattern (cf. Felix 
Guattari, "Toward a Post-Media Era"). As the Internet massified, control 
seemed to vacillate. There was a simultaneous boom of direct-democratic 
initiatives and net-business ventures. Then came the 2000s, the dot-com 
crash, the oil wars and the domestication of the new communication tools 
for capitalism as usual. As it shook out, you got two basic platforms, 
the mobile phone and the laptop. One for the car, one for the home. 
Connecting everyone to each other and to the old consumerist pattern was 
a new corporate rhetoric, often called Web 2.0.  Meanwhile, a networked 
and just-in-timed Fordism had gone on to find new homes in India, China, 
etc. The credit boom was on. Climate change got much more serious.

The question I am asking is what kind of self- or collective education 
can best overcome the control of consciousness in its privatized 
bubbles, where immensely powerful corporate and government actors can 
weigh on the individual's psyche and ensure that he or she will continue 
to believe the only solution is more of the same? Namely, more runaway 
"growth" (actually, death) accompanied by fantastic inequality, so that 
it "benefits" less and less people. And always more pollution, both in 
the air and in the "cloud" where the corporate ideologies now come from.

I'm not against the net and I don't assume the old university system was 
the best of all possible worlds. What I am saying is that there are 
problems that industrial design does not solve, but makes worse. The 
same can be said more emphatically of mind design -- the real theme of 
this thread. It seems to me that a population of isolated individuals 
brought together by a computer interface does not make a "crowd" and I 
doubt it can be the "source" for that which capitalist civilization 
lacks most tragically, namely the feeling of solidarity. This too is 
about to get serious. There is some good reason to fear that "the best 
and the brightest" (Europeans and Americans with fancy cars and homes) 
will think only of protecting their own bubbles when really large crowds 
of people start streaming towards the North in order to escape the 
ravages of climate change.

After doing his best to restructure the mental asylum of Blida, Algeria, 
Frantz Fanon woke up one day and said, "What these people need is not a 
psychiatrist, but a revolution." Hopefully some of today's eduweb 
designers are having a similar insight.

best, Brian

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