Internet Evolution & LOs LO11388

Durval Muniz de Castro (
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 10:34:09 -0800

Replying to LO11363 --

W.M. Deijmann wrote:
> Durval asks:
> >Is the relation of learning organization to traditional organization like
> >that of lego to conventional toys, or like that of computers to
> >conventional machines?
> I'd say that It's more a relation like conventional toys to
> modelling-clay.

And, in LO11361

> In the future I dream off I will allow technology a role, but I will not
> accept it to rule over me. I will not accept it to dictate me what is
> possible, nor what's right or wrong. I will continiously monitor and judge
> it's influence. I will turn down This Exceptionally Friendly Device
> whenever necessary.

1) The idea of modelling clay is great!

2) This brings the question of the relation between humans and machines.

A big problem with human-machine relation is that it is easier to make
people behave like machines than making machines that behave like humans.
We very often require people to do their work as a machine would:
repetitively, according to a routine, according to a rigid set of rules.
This is not only true of physical work and paperwork, but much intelectual
work falls in this category.

We can say rationality is a kind of machine that links causes to
consequences. Given a set of causes, anyone applying the convenient rules
should deduce the same consequences. Rationality is fundamental for
efficient communication: if you give information about the causes, you do
not need to explain all the consequences. Rationality becomes obtrusive
when it is transformed in a god, and everything must be subjected to it.
In organizations, this is the disease of bureaucracy.

Some machines are created to release people from mechanical work. The
process of creation of these machines is somewhat similar to bearing a
child. First the work is conceived as a routine to be performed by humans:
the machine is created inside the worker. Then somebody finds a way to
build an object that can do part or all of the work: the machine is born.
Thus, computers can release people from mechanical paperwork. But they can
also eliminate some element of creativity and intelligence that people
were able to introduce in the routine.

The problem with machines is when they are seen as gods. This happens when
the machines are seen as more important than people, when people are
supposed to serve the machines. Some machines embody great ideas, and it
is easy to serve a machine thinking that you are serving an idea. For
instance, Internet may embody the idea of free communication over the
whole world. When we say this, it is easy to understand that the idea is
more important than the means to accomplish it, but in the moment of
action it may be more difficult to decide.

I remember a book on this subject written by Argentine physicist and
writer Ernesto Sabato (the title is something like "Men and Gears"). In
the end, he tells about his father's wheat mill, and how the whole family
shared working and repairing it, and how they were able to disassemble and
assemble it again. Many people enjoy disassembling and assembling
machines, and this relation makes the machines more human. Another
beautiful book that deals with this aspect is Pirsig's "Zen and The Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance".

It is not possible to require that everybody be able to disassemble and
assemble every machine they use. But it is possible to require that
machines may be changed by the people that use them, that it is not only
the people that have to change to adjust themselves to the
new-high-technology-energy-efficient-state-of-the-art-machine. We could
have machines--metaphorically--made of clay, as Winfried suggested.


Durval Muniz de Castro <>
Fundacao Centro Tecnologico para Informatica <>
Campinas - Brasil - Fone: 55-19-2401011 - Fax: 55-19-2402029

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