The ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) - a certification which aims to “certify the ability to use a personal computer at different levels of elaboration and specialization” (from http://www.ecdl.it) - is having a great success in Italy.
But what do they mean when they say “to use a personal computer”? Is it just the list of monotonous actions taught during the courses in preparation of the ECDL exams?
Since we are a hacklab, and supporters of the “open source” culture, but most of all users of the computer technology, we cannot agree with them. We do believe that “being able to use a computer” means having a true mastering of the technology and being aware of the problems which originate from it.
Can we say that we “can use a computer” when we cannot evaluate the quality of a piece of software, nor recognize if it has been developed following an 'open' or 'closed' development model?
Can we say that we “can use a computer” even when the final decision on the trust to be given to a software is taken by the operating system manufacturer, and not by the user-administrator of the system, as it happens when using trusted-computing compliant tecnologies?
Do we really “know how to use a computer” even if we do not have a clue about the “digital cloud” we produce whenever we connect to the Internet, and about the infinite uses that can be done of every bit of information we exchange with other users?
We think that a certification which really wants to train new “digital citizens” should give special attention to the problem of the choice, more than the usage, of a software; to the issues related to the dominance of a system, to the privacy and the security; to the intellectual property.
Because “being able to write a letter” is different from “being able to use a computer”…
With the above motivations the Underscore _TO* Hacklab of Torino, Italy will offer, starting on March, the 16th a serie of meetings aimed to release to the public “our-own” certification called OCDL, Open Computer Driving Licence. A certification which sets itself against ECDL on several themes, from the choice to use exclusively open source software to our will to really put in the user's hands the control of the system.
We would like to invite all HackLabs, MediaLabs and related communities to consider the chance to start similar meetings to distribute OCDL certifications, so that the above themes can have a wider audience and the above problems can have a more-participated solution process.