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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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I’m at a workshop in Madrid organized by FORCE11. The first exercise was to imagine a world where universities did not exist, their hierarchies and power were abolished, but we still knew what we know. What would we build?

I answered through a series of “undoing” questions:

  • What is HE for?
  • Why do we research?
  • What is “knowledge”?
  • What financial form would have to underpin whatever we build? (this world isn’t that different it seems)
  • How do we remunerate labour?
  • Who gets to be “in” whatever we build?
  • Why humanities/sciences?
  • Why disciplines?
  • What is relationship between knowing things and governing/having power?
  • What kinds of freedom are needed to pursue knowledge?
  • How do we tell people what has been found locally?
  • How do they find it?
  • How do they use it and how much do we want to determine how it is used?
  • What labour forms are involved?
  • Do we want division of labour and specialisation? Even in communications?
  • Who might wish to harm us and how do we stop them?