Thursday, April 02, 2009

Technophobia 2:An iPod for the Queen

What better shows paleocon fear of information technology than the blogflogging of President Barack Obama's gift of the latest video ipod to the queen?

The silly faux outrage could be mocked on mere factual rounds:
  • The gifting also included a vintage book autographed by the queen's favorite american composer
  • The queen's reciprocal gift was equally prosaic: a picture of herself and her husband
  • We men just aren't that good at shopping; anyway, the president has one or two other things to think about right now, like wars and recessions and stuff.
But dwelling on the mere facts is playing defensive ball; iPodGate is really about reichwing fear of ipods and indeed all modern means of freely sharing information.

You see, any information sharing device, be it ipod, blackberry, laptop or 3×5 card, has no value on its own. The value is the information, and the ease with which the device makes it available. When information can be controlled by central authority, that authority can be subverted and We The People kept under control. But when information can be shared freely and easily, it makes people smarter, faster, stronger ... and THAT bothers reichwingers.

They feared Gutenberg's movable type, and they were right to do so, for it enabled the Reformation by freeing information from the tyranny of church scribes.

They fear the teleprompter, and they are right to do so. It lets obama deliver crisp remarks from notes without bobbing his head to look at 3x5 cards or ... as their leader Rush prefers ... simply to add words and whole phrases to our constitution when it suits his purpose.

They fear the ipod, and they are right to do so, for handheld information system empower people to assemble and share information without relying on centraled authority. President Barack Obama's gift ipod included selections personnalized for the queen, such as video of her recent visit to America. In the hands of ordinary citizens, handheld information devices can share almost unlimited amounts of information, much of it embarassing to central authority.

In its information quantity, the video iPod is larger than the gutenberg bible. In its impact on information freedom, and therefore on freedom itself, it embodies something larger than movable type.
Reichwing technophobes are right to fear this.

But let us encourage them to flaunt their technophobia. Our upcoming generation gets it.

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