[ox-en] Open Skills / Open design
- From: johan soderberg <soderbergjohan yahoo.com>
- Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2004 05:22:50 -0800 (PST)
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Capitalism is always involved in a two-tier and contradictory movement. On one hand, it enforces its dominance over society by installing knowledge elites (labour aristocracy), through professionalized specialised knowledge (technical and social division of labour), which at first might look as an advance of qualification. That advance in qualification for a small elite, is, however, at the expense of the working majority, whose skills are fragmented and subordinated under the expertise (the relatively privileged position of expertise makes them easier to control for capital).
However, termination of craft skill ( to displace skilled labour from strongholds within the capitalist production apparatus), also means a lowering of the necessary barriers to operate the means of production.
?By far the most important in modern production is the breakdown of complex processes into simple tasks that are performed by workers whose knowledge is virtually nil, whose training is brief, and who may thereby be treated as interchangeable parts.? Harry Braverman
Computerisation is case in point. Software mediation allows the single skill of using a computer program (photshop) to translate into other skills (operating machinelanguage of computer, the crafts of printmaking and typesetting). The unionisation among printers used to be very strong in most countries, and capital has successfully shattered them by making their skill widely accessible through computers. Master printers (representing many years of apprentice and mastering of the art) could be replaced by anyone working on a computer. On the other hand, this has meant that most of us have the means to print without any power-threshold of fixed capital (owning large printing facilities) and division of labour (20 years of expertise). We are taking printing (coding etc) outside the wage labour relation by going with the flow of the very dynamic of capitalist development.
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