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bigmonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 12:28 PM
Original message
Spirituality and technology - a concrete case.
Can we talk? This is really more a cri du coeur than anything else, I'm afraid. So, it's too long. Ignore at will. It will also seem like a geek-out, but really the issue for me is the direction of Spirit. I'm posting this here because the Spirit part is the crucial thing to me, the geeks wouldn't understand.

I get really depressed when Net Neutrality seems about to disappear. Even during the depths of the Bush years, the demise of Net Neutrality seemed more crucial to me than even the war, or the damage to the rule of law, because to lose the Internet to corporate control seems to me to destroy the possibility of fighting back against all the other stuff. (It's strange to me that the Republicans have behaved as if they are less willing to give the Internet over to corporate control than the Democrats have. I really have had a hard time dealing with that, too.)

Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's never seemed that way to me. I fall into thinking not just that this may be one of those inflection points in human history, as many of us do in this forum, but that access to the Internet, and how that access is constructed, will determine much of the future. A sign, as it were, of the direction that Spirit is going to take, either upward (citizen control) or not (corporate control). This is the moment that just a moderate amount of pressure would make a big difference. Other emergencies distracting people from opposing these crucial, almost silent structural changes remind me of conspiracies or thoroughly prepared opportunism.

Part of why I get so depressed is the parallel history of another recent technological development, the operating system. Do you know what an operating system is? Operating systems are what make it possible for the human to get the computer hardware to do what the human wants. Microsoft sells one, so does Apple, there is another that is partially proprietary called Unix, some other small ones, and Linux, the only one that's completely non-proprietary. Microsoft's operating system (Windows) is notoriously buggy at the same time as it is the most widely used, which fact has contributed to operating system problems being invisible to most people. If everybody has the same difficulties with their machines, then those problems are normal - no one expects a comprehensive solution to exist, or everyone would be using it.

So, what gets me is the realization that what seems to me to be an incredibly precious, progressive gem (the Linux operating system), offered to everyone literally for free, simply generates very little interest. People are so distracted, and their thinking is so hemmed in by consumerism and capitalist propaganda, that they ignore all the freedom and benefit that they (and everyone) could get, and instead settle for a tiny bit of comfort, or a small bargain on price or time. Will they neglect Net Neutrality too? Easier access to entertainment trumps increased access to free speech?

The benefits of Linux are huge, both in terms of money and for the welfare of society, and they're all literally a free gift. You save an enormous amount of money because you don't need to buy software or upgrade your computer when Microsoft decides you should; you have negligible concerns about viruses (really!); the machines run much more reliably; you're participating and helping to extend science and its benefits to everyone (Linux can't be bought, just like nobody can own chemistry or physics); and politically you're keeping computers out of corporate proprietary control at the same time as you're expanding citizen control of the technology.

Yet, virtually no-one wakes up and takes the gift. Even progressives are uninterested, even though it cuts directly into corporate control. I think sometimes that they would consider Linux a glittering, unattainable dream only if it didn't already exist.

The problem seems to be in consciousness So, I've been thinking about the prospective Split too, the two worlds, all that stuff. Is it possible, I wonder, that I've actually been experiencing the split in the technology I use? My degree is in religion, but I've been using Linux for about 15 years, and I get all the benefits all the time. I have bought only a few limited programs over those years, maybe $100 worth, mostly games. I read about virus problems, and they affect me as much as the weather in Brazil affects my hometown Chicago. My machines never crash in ordinary use (they do sometimes when I'm doing extreme techie stuff, but that's under my control).

If it is a symptom of the split, am I just hanging out with the wrong people in my non-virtual life? Will Net Neutrality not be the turning point, i.e. has the turn already been made for the better? Is depression appropriate, or joy?

Thanks for listening.
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 01:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow, that's fascinating!

Thanks for taking the time to type all that out. :)

You pose a really fascinating question. I admit that, while I've heard of Linux, I honestly had this impression that it was something way over my head...that only extreme techie types use it.

I'm familiar with open source programs and love that trend, and take advantage of it as much as possible (though there is a learning curve with some of those things that non-techies such as myself struggle with if we're also time challenged), but the very underlying thing -- the operating system itself -- I admit to being clueless.

I had no idea Linux was available to we mere mortals. ;) Granted, I never explored it because, as I said, I was under the mistaken impression that it didn't apply to me.

And you bring up a fascinating point: How does this perhaps pertain to evolution in general? If we use the Linux situation as an example.

Maybe there is an element of "it's too good to be true"...another element of perhaps there has been a clever campaign to make it seem as though it's NOT available to mere mortals such as myself...perhaps there is a divide and split occurring in reality and it's manifesting in different ways such as the technology path.

Fascinating!
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Oak2004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. Linux is no longer all that "techie"
The major distros (distribution -- prepackaged bundles of operating system and software) are *much* easier to install than Windows (Ubuntu would be a good one for people to download, and since it's possible to just boot to the installation cd/dvd and try it out without actually installing it, is incredibly safe to just explore and play around with). And just in case you're wondering, no, ubuntu does not boot to a geeky black command line screen: it boots to the same sort of windows and menu and desktop arrangement that Windows and Mac users are used to:

http://www.ubuntu.com /

Go ahead: be brave ;)
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mysticalchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
2. I also appreciate that ....
... I think you are on to something and I'd like to see the word get out there more.

It's my (admittedly non-tech-chick) opinion that people are scared of technology. Heck, we still have some folks using AOL! There are some on the cutting edge but I'd say that Linux is marketed (again, it's just what I see) as something for tech-saavy folks and requires a bit of a learning curve.

Really, until your post, I had no idea about what Linux could do. Maybe this whole Net Neutrality thing will help open some eyes and get people moving in the right direction.

(Lots of thoughts swirling but not much coherence. Sorry - but wanted to comment that I think what you wrote is profound and I will give it more thought.)
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Kind of Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:16 PM
Response to Original message
3. Thanks for posting. This is coming at such a great time.
I've been having so many computer problems lately.

Thanks so much Big Monkey for letting us know about this option!

Now, I've got some researching to do. I hope to be able to understanding what the differences are in operating systems and what Linux can and cannot do.

Sometimes ignorance is not bliss.
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I Have A Dream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
4. I have a degree in Computer Science, and I use Linux every day.
However, I don't feel that I as a programmer have the IT expertise to properly maintain it/troubleshoot it. Since I don't even feel comfortable doing it, I can't imagine people like my mother trying to use it.

I like what you say though. :)

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bigmonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I'll PM you a question.
I don't want to turn this into a Linux-users thread. Not that you were! :-)
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bigmonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 11:20 PM
Response to Original message
7. A linux joke that illustrates my dilemma.
(I didn't write this, but I can no longer find it on the web. You have to imagine for this joke that operating systems are somehow like cars. Just go with it, you'll see.)

A guy needs a new station wagon for his family, so he drives out to the edge of town where all the Windows dealerships are. He passes by the Apple dealerships, looking with envy at the sleek new models, and turns into the huge, crowded parking lot for the Windows dealer. Sure enough, there's a long wait to see a salesperson, so he steps outside for a cigarette. Standing and smoking outside, he has plenty of time to look around, and notices a bunch of strange things across the highway from the dealership that he must have missed on the way in. First, there are tanks lined up in a row along the other side of the road. Second, the fields beyond the tanks are a hive of activity, with all sorts of tipis, and yurts, and small buildings, and there are people constantly on the move between them carrying all kinds of stuff. He decides to go check it out, since it's clearly going to be a long wait until the salesperson gets to him. Putting out his cigarette, he crosses the highway, but is unable to find any central location to make inquiries. Finally he stops a bearded guy who's hustling past him on some errand, and asks:

What's up with all the tanks?

The bearded guy replies:

Oh, they're free. Just take one. Keys are already in it.

What do you mean, they're free? Free for anyone to take?

Yup, completely free. Just take one.

Our guy is taken aback, but with a doubtful look, he scoffs:

Well, what kind of gas mileage could a tank get?

The bearded guy smiles.

Oh, the mileage is great. 500 mpg, great acceleration, stops on a dime. And what could be safer than a tank?

Well, what about repair, then? How would I get it repaired if something went wrong?

Another smile.

No problem about that, and no cost either. We send volunteers to fix it while you sleep!

Too much for our guy to handle all at once. He panics, turns, and runs for the dealership, but just to be safe, over his shoulder he yells a warning to the bemused bearded guy:

You stay away from my house, you hippie freak!
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NuttyFluffers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-16-10 06:50 AM
Response to Original message
8. you are always alone, you are never alone...
most people's favorite topic is themselves, for good or ill. we are potentially selfless beings with a strong sense of self-interest and individuality flowing through us. if poorly cultivated, many of us can easily slide into selfish beings, with little to no empathy and individuality flowing through us.

expecting people to "wake up" and see your problems is almost impossible, because they expect you to see theirs first. furthermore, for 'acceptable social behavior' most people feel more comfortable talking about inane generalities and inconsequential trivia than real issues impacting their lives. it's a choice to self-medicate via escapism. humans are excruciatingly stubborn to educate on average, even more so when desperately trying to ignore their own suffering. and since the mob is even less educable and vastly more swayed by rhetorical manipulation, it is about hopeless to bring awareness of such important issues through sound reasoning and novice preaching.

however, there will always be individuals who 'get it' and are on your own wavelength. they'll just be harder to find in the great swath of humanity. not to say the great swath of humanity is hopeless, but you'll get more done by worrying about creating your own critical mass by finding like souls at your frequency than trying to energize other souls to resonate to yours. at some point you have to disconnect from seeking group approval, let alone understanding, and just go your own way. eventually you'll see others who resonate to you and realize you are not alone.

the trick is to be disconnected but approachable. don't sweat the small stuff that has little meaning to you -- but at least be open to others. let them have a chance of dialogue with people like you -- and sometimes they will share their own concern frequencies with your concern frequencies. you may differ on other things, but knowing that groups and individuals can dialogue will be a healthy awareness that there is hope.

the first step is to stop wasting your energy on people who have little reason to understand you. that's why i see watching FOX news or listening to RW nonsense is a waste of time. even dialogue for the most part is a waste of time -- the differences are too vast and their is rarely a come-together moment, it's mostly assaults to either side. accept no drama or evangelizing position and go live out your life. may the light it sheds bring people to you, not you chase after them.
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-16-10 07:00 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. WOW!!!!!!
Wow, NuttyFluffers!!!!

You have no idea (maybe you do?) how much what you said here applies to sooooooooooo many things I think we're all dealing with, in one way or another, as we try to make our way in this world right now.

...you'll get more done by worrying about creating your own critical mass by finding like souls at your frequency than trying to energize other souls to resonate to yours.


"Trying to energize souls to resonate with yours..."

Whew! THAT is a mouthful. Those words were meant for me this morning.

Thank you so very much.

:yourock:

:hug: :hug: :hug:

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NuttyFluffers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-17-10 04:29 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. i'm glad i could inspire, even for a single morning.
it's how parents often say to their children who chase after popularity, " just be yourself." and it's only something you really get after reaching some critical point in jr. high, high school, college, whatever. at some point trying too hard just makes your message all the less appealing.

i say something similar about people who are desperate for a relationship: desperation isn't sexy, confidence is sexy -- and only you know where you are most comfortable and confident.

:hug: you'll do fine as soon as you let your light shine instead of trying to volunteer your energy as a power outlet to others. :hug:
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OneGrassRoot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-17-10 05:42 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. You're coming up with some doozies!

"You'll do fine as soon as you let your light shine instead of trying to volunteer your energy as a power outlet to others."

:applause:

:hug:

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kentauros Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-16-10 10:36 AM
Response to Original message
10. This is really more of a case of "familiarity"
We use those tools with which we are most familiar and comfortable. It matters not if the tool is free; what matters is what we do with that tool.

The "OS Wars" turn me off faster than a telemarketer. I use Windows because I've been using Windows since I switched from my old C-64 to an IBM PC in 1993. I've learned the upgrades as they happened and to my needs. I still have XP mostly because I'm familiar with it, but also I tend to keep computers for 5-6 years before upgrading. The next system will have Windows 7 on it, skipping Vista.

I honestly gave OpenOffice a try once (last year, I think) and unloaded it a week later. None of the commands I've come to know and memorized in MS Office were the same in OpenOffice, so the learning-curve was high. Why relearn what you already know unless commanded by an employer?

I just don't see the spiritual connection. A tool is a tool, and a skilled user can make even the worst of tools produce something beautiful. Stick with what's familiar and focus on what you produce instead of how you produce it ;)
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