A manifesto in favour of wasting time, valuably?

The other day I wrote about sousveillance and community, and some of the implications of their interactions as I saw them.

The following day, links by Steve Mann (and others) – whose talented daughter drew a by-now-famous picture which helps to greater understanding of the issues involved – came my happy way. I just want to draw your attention to one of the documents: it is, I feel, a manifesto in favour of creativity and being, of following one’s instincts, of playing without specific end. Let the end take care of itself.

You can find the document here (in .pdf format). The following quotes resonated particularly for me:

  • “Let’s sometimes be willing to tinker (build something) first, and then figure out what it is or what it can be useful for afterwards (or maybe never!)! Basically let’s be willing to just tinker without having to make a plan and a Gantt Chart first.”
  • “[…] authenticity as connected with creativity, i.e. being true to one’s self. An example of what I mean here is an engineer who loves engineering rather than an engineer working for just the money or out of a sense of duty. To quote Einstein: ‘Love [of a subject of study or of one’s work] is a better master than duty’. It also means being true (authentic) to one’s self, rather than being driven by trends or fashions.”
  • “To quote Baldwin: ‘The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.'”

And rather intriguingly:

  • “For example, if I think of the square root of a number, and part of my ‘brain’ comprises silicon chips, can my thoughts end up being illegal if they drift toward patentable subject matter?”

Much more of the same can be found in the text linked to above. And I strongly urge you to read it in full. You’ll not find a better evening’s worth of thought in a long time.

In the meantime, I wonder the following. If the price of 21st century democracy is to be eternal voyeurism, how can we ensure we don’t turn such counter-surveillance on ourselves? Giving everyone the tools to see/observe/spy on another (the verb you use clearly defining how comfortable you feel with the concept) does have its very particular implications.

I wonder if it mightn’t be possible to conceptualise a system which could make it impossible to spy on a neighbour – ie a person as little as oneself. Or at least, which operated through clever tech to detect whether the person was acting amongst the kind of behaviours compatible with good society or not. The assumption being that peer-to-peer there is less potential for big crime to be committed; whilst the higher up the ladder you go, the more all behaviour might potentially become criminal.

It’d be interesting to say the least. As a game, as a challenge, as an exercise in thought if nothing more.

And when I say nothing more, I mean absolutely the opposite.


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