Ivan Illich and Web 2.0

This has been bugging me for over a week. I’ve been reading The Right to Useful Unemployment and Disabling Professions, both of which have been either written by or have contributions by Ivan Illich – reading as part of my studies for another research project at Cardiff Uni, partly looking at ideas ‘professionalism’ -and it suddenly struck me that there might be a link between his ideas about informal learning back in the 70’s and the way Web 2.0 is all about users creating their own networks and content. One of his central themes is the need to overturn technocratic elitism, and give the average person the ‘tools’ needed for a fulfilling, independent life. Lo and behold, a short search later, it turns out that he was a major influence on another radical, who happened to play a major part in the development of the personal computer, Lee Felsenstein ( “If work is to become play, then tools must become toys” – one of his most famous aphorisms – influenced by Illich’s Tools for Conviviality).

Exploring this a bit further, I’ve come across some recent policy ideas by Charles Leadbetter which develops this further (there’s a handy synopsis in Prospect) , which is also an interesting part of Leadbetter’s recent ‘We-Think’ – ‘a rallying call for the shared power of the web to make society more open and egalitarian’, so I’m hoping to use part of this in the work.

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