Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Better World?

Well, I seem to have gotten myself stalled out again. Drat.

Not that I haven’t been writing a little. It’s just that for some reason I've felt averse to sharing.

I’ve been working on what is either a very long entry or sequence of entries about shopping, which seems to be one of my favorite (and most self-defeating) activities.

Perhaps my latest shopping expedition got in the way of finishing/publishing?

Ironically enough, what I bought was a new computer. No, not the MacBook Air I’ve eyed again and again in the sale section of the Apple Store. I bought an eee 901 Linux from Amazon, an entirely different kind of computer.

I bought it because it looked like the perfect travel companion: light-weight with excellent battery life and exactly the features I want on the road: internet, word-processing, music, movies and photo storage. We'll take it with us next week to Hawaii, and I'll try to write a bit from there about how well it works out.

Already I see that I got more, way more, than I bargained for. I imagined the linux operating system, in this case Xandros, would be something like a Mac. I’ll try to write later about how Xandros is and is not Mac-like. For here and now let me say that part of what makes linux cool is the anti-shopping dimension. By that I don’t mean that linux users don’t buy stuff. Obviously, they do. In fact, they must, just like everyone else. But my brief forays into the wonderful world of linux persuades me that this global community is creating a space outside of the corporate ownership model that has turned us all into a bunch of zombie consumers.

Of course, lots of people share that commitment and pursue it through a variety of means: cooperative business models, local economies, do-it-yourself and back-to-the earth movements come to mind as obvious examples.

The linux way involves figuring out how your machine works, making it work differently, and sharing the results. This is much more than a metaphor for figuring out how the Machine works in order to make it work better (or make it stop working). All this tinkering throws a monkey wrench--or rather, lots of them--into the Corporate Machine. It creates choices outside of those offered by the Corporate World (Microsoft vs Apple) and it does so in a community dedicated to deconstructing the false dichotomy of those "choices."

I doubt that linux and linux users alone can save us. But maybe community is the key to building a better world.

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