Pool on the Net

Technologies of FreedomOne of my favorites:

If media become “demassified” to serve individual wants, it will not be by throwing on lazy readers the arduous task of searching vast information bases, but by programming computers heuristically to give particular readers more of what they chose last time. Computer-aided instructional programs similarly assess students’ past performance before providing the instruction they need. The lines between publication and conversation vanish in this sort of system. Socrates’ concern that writing would warp the flow of intelligence can at last be set to rest. Writing can become dialogue.

Ithiel de Sola Pool, Technologies of Freedom, Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1983, pp. 230-1.

He goes on to suggest that electronic media tend toward freedom, but we have to craft policy to keep them that way.

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  1. Posted 8/14/2007 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Alex, love the post – and the source’s age – and the Socratic reference. Explains how I stumbled upon it I guess (as a quick scan of my facebook ‘interests’ reveal. I’m fascinated by the two-way flows, the constantly connected power of the network and the community-derived self.
    I’ll add your blog to those I need to keep regular tabs on. Best

  2. Posted 8/14/2007 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    dang, 1983 … impressive.

  3. alex
    Posted 8/14/2007 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, Pool really knew his stuff. I think he’s desperately underappreciated.

  4. Posted 8/14/2007 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    in your opinion, is Technologies of Freedom the best place to start?

  5. alex
    Posted 8/14/2007 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Actually, maybe Technologies Without Boundaries. In both cases, you have to read it in historical context–it’s not all as prophetic as the above quote. But I think the way he thinks about the tech is useful.

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