Technology is a mode of revealing. Technology comes to presence where revealing and unconcealment takes place, where altheia, truth, happens.
Martin Heidegger as translated by William Lovitt
Throughout his essays on technology Heidegger grapples with grand questions concerning technology. He tackles with its essence, what it is, how it works and what it does. In the quotation above he talks about technology’s power of revealing our world as resources (thinks cogs in a grand system) and the questions that it begs when the world (humans included) is revealed as a part of that system – this is what is meant by “truth, happens.”
What is interesting about the SOPA debates are how people, the resources that evoke the greatest control over our global capitalist system, are dealing with the revealing that technology has brought to the world of intellectual property. We grapple with semantics, language, economies, effects, predictions and all without really looking at where the ideological fissure has opened and who sits on either side.
It is clear once you see the list of backers and opponents of SOPA its hard to not to identify the generational differences between the two. The majority of the opponents are those businesses that have adopted the new economic value system that emerged from the original propagation of the Internet. To understand its value origins you simply need to spend some time with Steven Levy’s Hackers and the ethos of MIT’s model railroad club. The backers of SOPA clearly come from a more traditional economic reality fixated on managing scarcity – a problem that Copyrights and Intellectual Property (IP) was created to manage.
Technology, in this case the Internet, has revealed the elements of system that are forcing us to deal with the fundamental truths of what this system is, how it works and how we all fit into it. The battlefield today is Information Technology and IP but this is just the beginning. The ideological war has begun and people are drawing sides based on which set of ideological values they are most vested.
Heidegger was right when he talked about the revealing that takes place where truth happens. But technology is also an ideological accelerant, furthering the values it adopts at exponential rates. As more of our world becomes information this whole dust up we call SOPA may well just look like a bar scrap in comparison to what the fight that the Occupy movement is starting. With that being said, its time to nerd up, draw sides and hope, like with most major ideological battles, the aging process benefits the young in search of progress. Because the movement is the ideology and its time to get our act together.
Image from Rosalyn Davies under a Creative Commons license