Things were far more idealistic and countercultural in the early days of the digital revolution. I was most intrigued in Mind Amplifier by Rheingold’s mention of Ivan Illich‘s idea of “convivial tools.” To be convivial is to be social both inwardly and outwardly—playful and open with oneself and others. “I consider conviviality to be individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, an intrinsic ethical value,” wrote Illich. “I believe that, in any society, as conviviality is reduced below a certain level, no amount of industrial productivity can effectively satisfy the needs it creates among society’s members.”
Even more pointedly, Illich believed that, “The future depends more upon our choice of institutions which support a life of action than on our developing new ideologies and technologies.” This is a helpful thought in a society that has placed more attention on the fact of digital technologies (the new iPhone!) than on what we do with them.