Sloan-C Emerging Technology
"Much technology has been “conceived and applied in the context of war and oppression”, yet many still want to think of it as morally neutral, as if it bore no mark of its origins."
". . . much is said about the impact of computerization, as if we were dealing with something that has come on us like a meteorite from nobody knows where. The reality is that the source of this technology is as much human as other major intentions. Like literacy, printing, firearms, bicycles, and automobiles, computers are self-revealing inventions. It is what we learn from them about ourselves – our impulses, purposes, abilities, and potential – that makes these technologies seem revolutionary."
"[airplanes] with propellers _behind_ the wings working propulsively, and one Cessna design of 1961 with a tractive propeller at the front of the body and a propulsive one at the back. Other options that have scarcely ever been used include the canard design, with the stabilizer at the front rather than forming a tail. This design could have weight-saving advantages. . . . some pilots rejected . . . the 1961 Cessna whose exceptional lateral stability made it seem too safe and easy to fly. . . . “the kind of safety given by this aircraft . . . did not fit the male image that a pilot has”. Conventional aircraft shapes also seem to have social meaning fro the general public denoting reliability and efficiency. It has become difficult for designers to depart from a conventional symbolism . . ."
Culture, technology and authority
The following are more quotes. Use Marginalia to comment on them, and to mark where you agree or disagree.
The following is from the conclusion of Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur (2007):
. . . technology doesn't create human genius. It merely provides new tools for self-expression. And if the democratized chaos of user-generated Web 2.0 content ends up replacing mainstream media, then there may not be a way for the Mozarts, Van Goghs, and Hitchcocks of the future to effectively distribute or sell their creative work.
Instead of developing technology, I believe that our real moral responsibility is to procted mainstream media against the cult of the amateur. We need to reform rather than revolutionize an information and entertainment economy that, over the last two hundred years, has reinforced American values and made our culture the envy of the world. Once dismantled, I fear that this professional media - with its rich ecoystem of writers, editors, agents, talent scouts, journalists, publishers, musicians, reporters, and actors - can never again be put back together.
This is from Raymond Williams in Culture and Society (1963):
. . . ideas of the diffusion of culture have normally been dominative in character, on behalf of the particular and finished ideal of an existing class. This . . . is seen most clearly in an ideal which has been largely built into our educational system, of leading the unenlightened to the particular kind of light which the leaders find satisfactory for themselves. A particular kind of work is to be extended to more persons, although, as a significant thing, it exists as a whole in the situation in which it was produced. The dominative element appears in the conviction that the product will not need to be changed, that criticism is merely the residue of misunderstanding, and, finally, that the whole operation can be carried out, and the product widely extended, without radically changing the general situation. This may be summarized as the belief that a culture (in the specialized sense) can be widely extended without changing the culture (in the sense of "a whole way of life") within which it has existed."
And from Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life (1980):
Tools are the operators of writing and also its defenders. They protect the privilege that circumscribes it and distinguishes it from the bodies to be educated. . . . But this barrier is gradually breaking down. The instruments are giving way little by little; they are almost anachronistic in the contemporary order, in which writing and machinery, lo longer distinct, . . . "