Some Additional Thoughts on Illich: Responsibly Limited Tools [ #captions]

On the Path to Convivial #Captioning

When considering #captioning as a convivial tool—or at leas potentially as a tool to help foster, if only temporarily, a more convivial society or culture, it’s useful to fill in some other pieces of Illich’s view.

For Illich, a convivial society also places technology with a specific role:

“modern technologies serve politically interrelated individuals rather than managers” (1973, xii).

The emphasis is clearly on individuals and citizens communicating and connecting with each other as opposed to giving supervisory or surveillance powers to the bosses. Placing #captions in this frame would then have people captioning text for each other—as service, for pleasure, for fun, for critical thinking and engagement—as opposed to captioning as product or control.

Illich does not allow technology anything close to free reign—certainly not the way technology is currently allowed to drive cultures and government. Instead, he uses convivial to “Label a culture of responsibly limited tools” (1973, xii-xiii). Keywords: responsibly limited tools. How might captioning fit here? Are there ways in which captioning could be used irresponsibly—so much so that people are actually harmed or damaged from the process? It’s hard for me to conceive of right now, but perhaps if captions were intentionally created that misrepresented what was said in the piece? Or? Can you think of a reason why captions **should** be limited?

Illich makes it pretty clear that in a convivial society, every citizen has free and ready access to the community’s tools. This access and use is limited only when it might impinge on another’s freedom. One way to interpret this within the frame of captioning is that the tools used for caption creation, rendering, and viewing should be free and/or open source. [This is another discussion entirely, free vs. open source, but either solution might work for convivial captions.]

What do you think?