Must read article by Phil Agre on design.
Posted by Bill Stilwell at May 07, 2000 12:00 AM
E. P. Thompson wrote an influential paper about the fashion for pocket
watches when pocket watches were new. People would spend large parts
of their wealth to get one. They served to get one to places on time,
and they also served to signify. Neither happens without the other.
What does the Internet signify? The Internet came along at the moment
when engineers -- at least the leading cultural edge of them -- were
surrendering the centuries-old conception of engineering as the Godlike
giving of rational order. What's to take the place of that conception?
Engineers facilitate local ordering. Rather than discover and optimal
order, they provide a platform. That's the ideal, which we code with
the word "open". But platforms, alas, are public goods. If markets
epitomize the otherwise inchoate wish for an open society, we've been
learning that marketplaces are commodities too.