Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Knowledge procured through doubt

In Galileo's last speech in Brecht's great play, he talks about the pursuit of science demanding a kind of courage: 'It deals in knowledge procured through doubt'. Well there's a distinct absence of doubt around as Krotoski strides around in her blue coat occasionally stopping to caress her Macbook. In episode two of the Digital Revolution we're treated to more of the 'triumph of freedom over control, thanks to the internet' rhetoric. Geeks show us how it's possible to get round state firewalls and we get a lot of swivelling eyeballs - for instance from an over-enthusiastic Clay Shirky (too much coffee?). But when Jeff Bezos from Amazon talks about freeing-up information, surely we must have one or two incklings of doubt. Don't get me wrong I love Amazon. I even like the way it tries to read my mind and tell me what I want to read - that's clever shopping. So Bezos runs an intelligent and very reliable bookshop that scares the hell out of traditional booksellers. If freedom is about being able to buy more or less what you want when you want it, that's OK; but I thought it was a bit more than that. For once I found myself in agreement with Andrew Kean, blogging here. The clips on Twitter in Iran and networked Climate Change camps were OK, but I want more searching analysis for my licence fee. A freedom to doubt.

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