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A seminal meditation on the future of digital revolution by Ersin Akinci, a young scholar who bridges the gap between Humanities and Computer Science with ease. The fact that he also happens to be my dear son is really a (pleasant) coincidence. If it were written by someone else I’d still enjoy this article and want to share it with TCC readers.
Here is a quote that sets the tone for this essay: “…in tearing down these roadblocks [to user participation], [companies like Apple and Google] have patented the road and trademarked the road signs.”
“Google’s entire business model depends on retaining and manipulating personal data exclusively through their tools, and in its most extreme, the company aims at a new status quo for data in which information is completely out of a user’s hands. More reactionary than revolutionary, the design of Google’s Chrome OS, announced in November 2009 and due to ship on netbooks later this year, harkens back to the forty-plus year old terminal-mainframe model of computing where users merely access a common central server through a keyboard and a monitor rather than owning and controlling their own computing power. As for Google Books, while it has rendered millions of works accessible over the Internet, the project’s vision is perhaps even more profoundly reactionary as it seeks not only to hold the world’s digital data but to dredge it up from analog formats.”
Even though the author starts with a dark note, he ends his essay with a hopeful possibility:
“[U]nlike the situation in other creative arts, in programming the design of the product is the product itself. A house and its blueprint are distinct, but code written in C is not a design for something else. It is an abstraction of machine code that must be translated, but it is essentially the finished deliverable, and as such it is ideal for tinkering. With poetry or sculpting, one can only hope to tinker with the idea behind the work to create a different work anew, and perhaps a tamper-proof digital future will instill these old ways of creating into young minds. Ultimately, it may prove to be even more potent than the tinkering that has driven digital innovation so far.”
Also by Ersin Akinci:
The author Ersin Akinci holds a B.A. in History and M.A. in Humanities, both from Johns Hopkins University