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Howard Rheingold on software and action

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 23, 2003

Some key points from Howard Rheingold’s keynote on Technology Innovation and Collective Action:

- Developers: create tools that amplify collective action
- Are we going to be consumers (passive) or users (active)?
- We need to fight to remain users.
- Reputation systems are crucial.
- In building software, learn from the past and buildin room for future innovators
- The design of defaults is important. (The idea that simple is very usable, but make it hackable for power users and developers.)

Reader comments

Steven GarrityApr 23, 2003 at 3:21PM

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we are all consumers, and how some of us are consumers and producers. Some seemingly subtle developments (like the upload/download speed disparity on cable internet connections pointed out by Laurence Lessig) seem to be creeping towards the assumption that we are all only consumers.

There is some good news though - weblogs are a great tool for turning consumers in to producers. Even those who don’t have weblogs of their own are free to contribute.

I’m not anti-consumer (my Adbusters subscription expired last year…). However, we can’t all only be consumers. We have to produce. It is good to produce.

Ralph Nader, in a speech at the University of Washington (1:24 - windows media - worth watching), quotes Cicero: “Freedom is participation in power”. If we only consume, we are not participating and have no freedom (freedom to chose what we consume just doesn’t cut it).

Jake of 8bitjoystick.comApr 23, 2003 at 5:19PM

Nader lost all credibility to me when he became a politician.

“You go to your TV to turn your brain off. You go to the computer when you want to turn your brain on.” Steve Jobs.

John DowdellApr 24, 2003 at 3:18PM

Jake, you can’t produce such opinions, you must consume the opinions given you by such reputable authorities…. ;-)

Jason, can you expand a bit on that “Developers: create tools that amplify collective action” above? What types of abilities did Howard seek?

I’m also curious whether there were recommendations for styles or features of reputation systems. If you’ve got additional bits I’d appreciate ‘em, thanks!

jkottkeApr 24, 2003 at 6:06PM

John, he wasn’t very specific. I think he sort of left it up to the developers to figure out how to amplify collective action and then create tools to do those things.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.