Even from the field’s earliest days, developments in computer science have served to increase cooperation and shared knowledge. This week’s Turner reading discussed the influence of the commune lifestyle on early computer scientists. They were influenced by the spirit of cooperation found in the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. These pioneers focused their work on developing technologies which would allow individuals to come together through a technology-mediated interface in order to combine knowledge bases and achieve large-scale goals which would otherwise be impossible.
This focus on the collective good has continued to the modern era of the internet and social media, as highlighted in this week’s Shirky reading. Whether or not you believe that a sixteen-year-old unwed mother should be arrested for what could be considered a case of ‘finders keepers,’ the opportunity for one individual to start a worldwide campaign and build a knowledge base to traverse the New York legal system over a matter of days is clearly impressive. This feat would have been impossible at any other time in history, and embodies technology’s ability to bring people together to fight for a common cause.
This capacity for collective action has increased as the cost of these technological developments has decreased, and their accessibility has increased. This makes me wonder where these developments are headed. What current examples of collective action have been in the media recently and what are their implications for future change.