Aware Consumers Are Active Citizens Too: Participation as a Possible Strong Individual and Collective Solution

Aware Consumers Are Active Citizens Too: Participation as a Possible Strong Individual and Collective Solution

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3770-0.ch006


Learning to pick up tools and data and use them according to our real needs, aware that we are all producers of information, it is the basic step to an active citizenship in the global world. From the example of the children setting up their “Virtual Museum of Small animals”, from the school yard to the Internet, the author argues about how also average people, thanks to the spread of technology, can develop shared models of production in the cultural and more in general third sector of the economy. But important innovations and changes of perspective can be applied also to agriculture and industry, above all sharing more and more the knowledge, that is maybe a possible response to many problems of the world today, for a sustainable development in the planet and the peace among the groups and nations.
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Hardware, Software, Attitude

We can think we have to undergo the future, but we can also approach it as active actors. And something we have to change in our way of thinking, not only adapting to what goes on the market.

It is mostly a matter of attitude; and it is extremely difficult, for passive, TV addicted, individualistic people, to imagine a new, active role in picking up resources and using them, together with the others, sharing duties and pleasures, inside a superior organization which can be vertical, “company based”, as traditionally, but also horizontal, collectively based, managed directly by the communities, locally and globally, if only adequate ways of management are found and properly worked out, for an actual impact on the real world.

Hardware are objects which can be taken, touched, above all watched, when they are so beautiful and stylish as the latest smart phones, tablets, laptops and “all in one” PCs are! Objects are produced by producers and bought by consumers, without any doubt or confusion, in the long wake of the industrial tradition (that is almost as old as the idea of free economy, how much: two centuries and a half?).

Lately, the trend of some sellers seems to be to keep far away from the consumers’ minds any temptation of being themselves somehow producers of objects. So, for example, optical disc drives are cut off from the shining, highly refined and extremely thin “all in one” (all?) PCs Apple iMacs and Microsoft Surface Studios that we proudly exhibit on our desks. I go on thinking that it is hard to find even only one technical or practical reason for which a desktop PC should be thin but, as many signs suggest that is happening, more than for a working tool, many conceited protagonists of present “digital age” are probably searching, again, for the finest Narcissus pool in which they can mirror!

Is this the “future”?

Software way to things is maybe a bit more present-day. We have some manufactured goods whose way of working is not inbuilt, but depends on instructions given, in the end, by the humans, us included. So, though an “industrial” base does exist – a car and a sewing machine are designed for different duties – the chance in the future is to have machines matching more and more different approaches and styles, as real people are all different.

That is another scene, indeed, from the crowd of nerds gathering in a hall, all with the same brand laptop in their hands, as in a race of conformism and approval.


Picking Up Tools, Data And A Different Starting Point

The ability of picking around hardware and software, actually good for our jobs and intentions, as well as picking up just the data and the information we need, in the ocean of data and information running every day across the web, and giving them a sense according to whatever activity we are carrying out, it is the key to enter as aware actors into the present world.

The awareness that “machines” are not to compel us to change our lives according to their way of working, but are waiting from our instructions and orders, waiting to be discovered just by us for an infinite number of possibilities which are not in the instructions for use and maybe not even in the projects of their original creators, this can give to everyone of us another idea and attitude about the “future”. And the matter is just to decide who gives instructions to machines, who sets up the future.

With other kinds of “technologies” and tools, we already do this when we use words to write always new, unpredictable texts, use notes to create never heard music and songs, use shoes for walking unexplored paths and pans for cooking dishes never tasted before. The time has come not to ask anymore the mechanical where we should go with our car!

But to understand what actually means to have, anyone of us, an incredible amount of possibilities of doing, expressing, creating, communicating, further multiplied by sharing everything with potentially thousands or millions of other people, it is difficult and likely to give dizzy, if we cannot see all this exemplified in simple, lived, intelligible works or activities.

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