Eben Moglen on innovation under austerity and ‘a little thug in a hooded sweatshirt’


An employee walks past servers in one of four server rooms at the new Facebook Data Center on April 19, 2012 in Forest City, North Carolina. (Rainier Ehrhardt/GETTY IMAGES)

In a speech before those assembled at the F2C: Freedom to Connect conference in Washington, D.C. on May 22, Moglen put forth a particularly stinging critique of those who control, use, finance and regulate (or don’t) modern technology.

“The next Facebook should never happen,” says Moglen going on to call the company’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg (though not by name) “a little thug in a hooded sweatshirt” who “made the Web easy to write, and created a man-in-the-middle attack on human civilization.”

Ouch.

The speech also outlines the slow elimination of intermediaries in publishing, education and even politics. Moglen frequently mentions the power young people have been leveraging online to hack (in other words, repurpose or manipulate existing hardware, software and other systems) anything and everying in an effort to change the world around them — a world, Moglen argues, in which they have an increasingly bleak future. Moglen calls this perpetual hacking “the primary source of the innovation which drove all of the world's great economic expansion in the past ten years.”

He then goes on to say, “The way innovation really happens is that you provide young people with opportunities to create on an infrastructure which allows them to hack the real world and share the results.”

The speech is definitely worth listening to and is one in which you will likely find ideas about innovation, politics, policy, technology and society that you both agree and disagree with.

Thanks to the Post’s Olga Khazan for bringing this to my attention, and BoingBoing for posting.

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Vivek Wadhwa | What if Zuckerberg had an MBA?

Dominic Basulto | The Web’s great Leap forward

The death of a buzzword

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