Friday, February 26, 2010

How comfortable are you with reading ideas you disagree with?

After posting a comment to the CBC Spark blog about an interview with Jaron Lanier, I looked up his book You are not a Gadget, and added it to my future reading list on eMusic.

I can tell from the CBC and other interviews that I'm not going to agree with this person on some pretty key things. Take what I've written publicly and what I think about the following quote:

Collectivists adore a computer operating system called LINUX, for instance, but it is really only one example of a descendant of a 1970s technology called UNIX. If it weren’t produced by a collective, there would be nothing remarkable about it at all.

Meanwhile, the truly remarkable designs that couldn’t have existed 30 years ago, like the iPhone, all come out of "closed" shops where individuals create something and polish it before it is released to the public. Collectivists confuse ideology with achievement.

In my mind, his first comment is like saying that democracy isn't remarkable because it is just a decision making mechanism just like Feudalism and other governance systems. I'm also entirely uninterested in the iPhone because it is closed, just as I wouldn't want to live in certain countries because of differences in political beliefs with the way it is governed. There are aspects of the structure of these societies that may be remarkably designed, and there is beauty everywhere in this world, but that doesn't mean I'm interested in living or even visiting there.

Wars have been fought against technologically superior people/countries that had incompatible ideologies, and I think far too many technologists confuse technology with achievement.

But that isn't the point for me. The point is that I'm curious to hear what this person has to say (hear in someone elses voice with the Audio Book, but close enough ;-) because I think I'm going to learn more from someone I disagree with than someone I agree with. I know I'll have moments where I'll be yelling at my mp3 player, but that is part of the process.