Reflection: open source, structure, politics

Reading each of these, one after the other, felt like finding a new piece in a puzzle.


Silicon valley tries to sweep politics under the rug in order present itself as a neutral, democratic entity. Fred Turner makes a good case for comparing silicon valley technologists to american puritans. Technologists like to think of ways to make peoples lives easier or better all the while ignoring history, context, and politics. This kind of thinking leads to tools that we never thought we wanted and now we think we need. In many cases because these technologies create massive amounts of power we do need them. Another issue with this way of thinking is that there are people at the top making things for people at the bottom (which is everyone who is not at the top). In other words there are elitists in silicon valley who are building tools that give people the facade of power and are also making decisions without too much regard for consequences and with too much regard for profit. The point is that these decisions, even if they are considerate, should probabnly not be made by the powers that be. The solution then, as Fred Turner points out, might be the institution. The structure that Jo Freeman outlines can be a version of the institution that Fred Turner speaks of.

I’m wondering what is the difference between a structured entity and an institution? Can a group be an institution? Can an insitution be a group? Does an insituition always have to institutionalize or can it be constantly changing?It is easy to dismiss structure but if built with care it can help people, communties, and movements build or create or grow themselves in the way that they want to. I especially like Jo Freeman’s principles for democratic structuring: delegation, responsibility, distribution, rotation, allocation, diffusion of information, and equal access to resources.


What does an ethical engineering education look like? Are there tried-and-true ways of writing ethical code? Or is ethics something that is to be addressed hand in hand with writing code?

Why is creativity inherently associated with Art? I think writing code is creative because it is usually an attempt to solve a pre-exising problem. Do programmers need a reminder that they are creative or do they need a reminder that there are real problems in the world that need creative solutions? Sometimes it seems like Facebook creates more problems than solutions…or that they create solutions to problems that they made up.

Why don’t people deny software?