In the last few months I decided to take a break from the usual work routine to get time explore new ideas and to meet grassroot no-profit communities in the area were I’m living.
One of these explorations allowed me to get to know better the makers movement, the network of FabLabs and Hackerspaces in Barcelona. In this time I joined FabAcademy. FabAcademy is a distributed training program on digital fabrication started by prof. Neil_Gershenfeld inspired by his course “How to make (almost) anything” at MIT. I wrote more in detail about this experience in these pages.
It has also been a refreshing experience to make again a lot of mistakes, and especially to be able to see the physical outcome of my mistakes :) It is something that as “knowledge workers” we do not experience as frequently as we should.
Two weeks are just fading away, two weeks spent in Italy across two activism camps between Corviale, in the Rome suburbs, and Lampedusa island, the crossroad of the Mediterranean sea. Between these two locations is emerging slowly a common thread… or maybe better calling it a suture thread, a thread that is trying to heal some of the wounds of our collective hypocrisy in which we keep sailing.
Last October on a trip returning to UK I decided to stop in Calais. I couldn’t do too much except offering a little help with my two hands to the other volounteers that are working there unloading and packing donations.
To illustrate how unethical decisions happen let’s analise this real story:
In 1970 Ford released to the public a new car to compete in the market segment of the cheap small vehicles: the Ford Pinto. During its design phase the engineers found a potential issue with the fuel tank placement which could increase the risk of fire after an accident. After a cost-benefit analysis they estimated that the cost of case settlement for these accidents ($200,000 per death, equivalent of $11 cost per car) was lower than adding a plastic shield behind or changing the design of the tank. 7 years later the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) forced Ford to recall the vehicles. Controversy still exist today, but based on different sources, the incidents caused between 27 and hundreds of deaths and around few thousands injuries. The cause is attributed both to the initial design and to the repeated decision to not recall the vehicles that presented the defect.
How many unethical decisions, maybe with smaller impact, are taken daily that never reach public attention? What are the common factors in the the Enron and Lehman Brothers collapses? How can we avoid this to happen in our organizations?
I remember when I was a kid and knew I did something good I was always running to my grandfather to let him know about my novel achievements. Probably because the day after he would have brought me a chocolate or few coins that I could save, but mainly because he had always some good encouraging words for me.
He used to tell me in those occasions “Fare bene è bene”. A sentence which translates to “doing good is good”. From this picture a bit romantic of my grandfather I like to imagine that he was an existentialist but he didn’t knew it.
I’ve been assisting for the last few days at the debate during the preparation and development of NETMundial. A conference held in Brazil to discuss principles of Internet governance and digital rights.
One specific idea that puzzled me is listening to progressive voices supporting NET Neutrality: a concept of “equal technical treatment of all protocols and data”. Does this mean we’re treating equally the people at the two sides of this conversation?
There was a day during the last year when I was in Nairobi and I have been harassed by two policemen for the colour of my skin. There was a day when I got lost at night in a favela in Rio and I was afraid for being the only white foreigner risking to get robbed or attacked.
The other 363 days of the year I had a simpler, more comfortable, privileged life. And for the first 33 years of my life I haven’t even recognised my privilege.
In the recent past we’ve been hit by the narrative: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re product”
Unfortunately this seems to have become the de facto standard in the technology industry. Software as a service, cloud computing and few other paradigm shifts in the on-line business have enabled this distortion.
I wrote this short article as part of an assignment of an on-line course I’ve been recently attending. I thought it’s worth sharing since it reflects in a brief way some of the changes and discoveries of my last year of radicalization.