People in tech repeatedly portray Silicon Valley as places where the smartest, most motivated people from around the globe are changing the world for the better, and this rhetoric has been taken up and repeated often by traditional media outlets. Unlike, say, community activists, public schoolteachers, social workers, or health care providers, technologists are ultimately focused on a small slice of the population, and they are primarily looking for ideas that will prove profitable. These entrepreneurs may have a passion for better audio streaming or e-mail, but to say that such pursuits are world-changing is a bit disingenuous.
Don’t fully agree with Evgeny Morozov’s culture pessimism but he makes some good points in this article:
It might even help bury some of the myths spun by Silicon Valley. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day, told that Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” we would finally read between the lines and discover its true meaning: “to monetize all of the world’s information and make it universally inaccessible and profitable”? With this act of subversive interpretation, we might eventually hit upon the greatest emancipatory insight of all: Letting Google organize all of the world’s information makes as much sense as letting Halliburton organize all of the world’s oil.
Couldn’t agree more:
People. 140-character messages. That’s Twitter.
So simple. So powerful. So fragile.
So leave it alone. We’re talking. Don’t interrupt.
But just rebuilding Twitter before it gets more
richer stories and crammed by ads probably won’t help: We could build an open Twitter, but would anyone use it?
David Willetts, a minister of state for universities and science in the UK, is calling for more open access in academics:
Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration
If you ever worked in an academic environment or just wanted to read some scientific studies, you probably know this is currently an outrageous mess, not only in the UK. Because most research gets published in very expensive journals and magazines, a huge amount of publicly paid academic research and its outcome can’t be accessed by the public.
Moving from an era in which taxpayer-funded academic articles are stuck behind paywalls for much of their life to one in which they are available free of charge will not be easy.
But they basically have Jimmy Wales on board, so it looks like this isn’t just the usual politician jibber-jabber.