I must admit, I am not someone who is fascinated by the nuts and bolts of computer code. When Sunni Maravillosa
about the article "The Virtues of Monoculture
," my eyes glazed over and went into "scan" mode. Fortunately the glaze did not go completely opaque, because a phrase blasted into my consciousness and boggled my mind.
For those of similar persuasion, here's a brief summary: Writer James Turner argues it wouldn't be so bad if everyone used Microsoft Windows as their computer operating systems. That way we would eliminate a lot of confusion over incompatible software, etc. And here's the punch line:
"MICROSOFT OFFERS THE CERTAINTY OF NO CHOICES."
In my initial reaction, I suggested in a comment to Sunni that this sentence may go down with the great Orwellian phrases in 1984
– War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. The certainty of no choices: What a wonderful ideal. It's the ultimate goal of all conflict, after all: One final winner, no more wars, no more nasty campaigns, no more pesky decisions to make – we simply offer the certainty of no choices.
It's the ultimate John Lennon song: Imagine one big happy world of computer users, it's easy if you try – nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too. The problem with Turner's utopia and Lennon's overrated song, of course, is that people like choices.
The certainty of no choices is tyranny. Monoculture has
no virtue. Humanity is 6 billion individuals, and no one can herd them into one culture that makes them all happy. "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way."
To be fair, Turner is trying to argue for standards and clarity: "When we hear about two or more projects that answer the same question, we should be asking ourself 'Why don’t they pool their effort and produce one really good solution?', rather than celebrating diversity for diversity’s sake alone." His grammar gives him away when he says we should be asking "ourself" - as if humanity was the Borg, one collective consciousness that could be content with one solution to an enormously complex question.
Few questions are so mathematical that they have only one answer, and even when we "settle" on a technological answer, something better comes along. VHS won out over Beta, but then came DVD. The cassette replaced the LP and was replaced by the CD until downloads arrived, but many people still buy LPs anyway. UHF? VHF? Digital TV?
Who wants "the certainty of no choices"? As I wrote at Sunni's blog, my mind is so boggled by the thought, it's still rattling.
Labels: Big Brother, freedom