innovation or commodification

Do product patents reduce economic efficiency and cut back on technological innovation? Do the have-nots become more naught? Are free-markets just a catch-work for the elimination of job security? And what of our naive assumptions that technological solutions to political issues? Ultimately, what is the free market commitment to universal accessibility to information and knowledge? Well, it seems that in the future entire nations could become a form of licensed merchandise, governed by patents and sucked dry , virtually, by the toll booth business model of an Apple….

---The excessively pathetic competitions on such programs beg a stamp of simple stupidity on the majority of humanity and makes the audience question the Jacotot’s assertion regarding the equality of intelligence. All joking aside, how does one explain the behavoir of contestants who are willing to strip for a burned out rockstar who was in a one hit wonder band? The traditional response would be because ‘they don’t know any better,’ thereby invoking the standard Marxist argument – that they do not know what they do (to paraphrase christ). Zizek among others have pointed out the limitations of such an articulation of ideology and have suggested, in its place, a more fetishistic attitude as the core of ideology – that instead of ‘they are doing but they don’t know they are doing it’ it becomes ‘they know they are doing it but they do it anyways.’---- Read More:

With increased economic interconnectivity has arisen profound political changes : poorer, hinterland countries have become even more dependent on activities in advanced economies such as America where money and expertise expertise are concentrated. Free market experiments in Colombia and similar nations do reveal the poor are worse off. At the same time, this ideology has taken power away from the nation state and toward the multinational, with its brand globalization. Coca Cola, Umbro etc. have become part of the fabric of vast numbers of people’s lives in the developing world. Nestle’s plys the Amazon and Avon does hut to hut in the Rain Forest. And with all the globalization comes global risk, contagion: the syndrome of no safe place to hide, not even a crocodile swamp.

---I am claiming that there is more here than a political myth of information technology; there is a coherent political ideology of information technology advancing a set of economic values permeating society's cultural sphere. Information technology, although promoted as a revolutionary phenomenon, does not represent a radical break from the traditional industrial economic and political culture. In fact, the ideology uses information technology to preserve that culture's dominant characteristic: commodification of products and services in a free-market economy. Furthermore, the ideology seeks a change in the balance between economy and state by shifting the provision of public services to the private sector where ability to pay determines their availability. --- Read More: image:

…Paul Romer and others have argued that technology (and the knowledge on which it is based) has to be viewed as a third factor in leading economies. . Global finance, thus, becomes just one force driving economies. Knowledge capitalism: ‘the drive to generate new ideas and turn them into commercial products and services which consumers want’ is now just as pervasive and powerful. Inevitably this leads onto questions around the generation and exploitation of knowledge. There is already a gaping divide between rich and poor nations – and this appears to be accelerating under ‘knowledge capitalism’. There is also a growing gap within societies….

…Commentators like Charles Leadbeater have argued for the need to ‘innovate and include’ and for a recognition that successful knowledge economies have to take a democratic approach to the spread of knowledge: ‘We must breed an open, inquisitive, challenging and ambitious society’ . However, there are powerful counter-forces to this ideal. In recent years we have witnessed a significant growth in attempts by large corporations to claim intellectual rights over new discoveries, for example in relation to genetic research, and to reap large profits from licensing use of this ‘knowledge’ to others. There are also significant doubts as to whether ‘modern economies’ are, indeed, ‘knowledge economies’. It doesn’t follow, for example, that only those nations committed to lifelong learning and to creating a learning society will thrive .

…Globalization and risk. As well as opening up considerable possibility, the employment of new technologies, when combined with the desire for profit and this ‘world-wide’ reach, brings with it particular risks. Indeed, writers like Ulrich Beck  have argued that the gain in power from the ‘techno-economic progress’ is quickly being overshadowed by the production of risks. (Risks in this sense can be viewed as the probability of harm arising from technological and economic change). Hazards linked to industrial production, for example, can quickly spread beyond the immediate context in which they are generated. In other words, risks become globalized. Read More:


Developments in information technology are claimed to be revolutionary innovations that will propel societies and nations toward renewed economic growth, new modes of political participation, and a rejuvenated sense of community. Countless reports from all levels of government, think tanks, futurists, management gurus, and the popular press extol the need to promote the exploitation of information technology to increase productivity and to ensure economic, political, and cultural development. It is asserted by many that the primary commodity to be processed by this steam engine of the new economy is information itself….

…It is my argument that these assertions arise out of a coherent political ideology: the Ideology of Information Technology. This ideology promulgates a set of economic values that are permeating the political and cultural spheres of society. The area I will focus on in particular is the implications of the Ideology of Information Technology on how information should be generated, packaged, and distributed.

I do not accept that it is the Internet that is transforming society. Fundamental changes in the provision of information and knowledge are not driven by innovations in information technology. Rather, I argue that such changes are due to economics. I maintain that the Ideology of Information Technology is a set of values and propositions that represents an inhe

extension of capitalism’s drive to commodify all spheres of economic and cultural life. This ideology links the adoption of information technology with free-market values and the commodification of information. Read More:

…The message of these vignettes is clear: Don’t spend money on public safety, child care, and other social services; rather, channel it into information technology, the solution to all our social and economic woes. The Ideology of Information Technology masks real political and social issues behind the glamour of the electronic impulse.

I have no quarrel with capitalism or its need for technological innovation. However, I am concerned about its tendency to impart to all spheres of social and cultural life the values of the marketplace. The thrust of the Ideology of Information Technology is that all needs for information should be fulfilled through open market economic transactions. Consequently, distinctions between data, information, and knowledge are collapsed into a vague all-encompassing concept of “information,” a commodity that can be packaged into electronic bits and marketed directly to consumers through electronic networks. The economic implications of the Ideology of Information Technology spill over into cultural issues. Examples of cultural issues being reduced to economic transactions include public library fees for service, increased charges for government publications and data, copyright legislation favoring creators over users, and the emerging battle over who will build, own, and provide access to the information highway.

Is information technology the next wave to economic renewal through increased productivity? Or is it being used as an ideological tool to bolster arguments for the reallocation of economic resources? The relationship between information technology and productivity is relevant. A measure of the economic importance of a technological innovation is its impact on productivity. ( ibid. )

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