Archive | September, 2013

What do we REALLY know about Technology?

25 Sep

Neil Postman: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we many use technology rather than be used by it.

After watching this talk, the first thought that crossed my mind was something along the lines of, ‘Wow, I had never thought of it that way.” I know I am not alone in saying that I have taken technology entirely for granted; using it greedily to serve every purpose I can scrounge from it.  I am slowly becoming more and more aware, however, that there is so much more technology is capable of, both positive and negative, that I am wholly unaware of.

In Neil Postman’s talk he brings to light 5 fundamental aspects of technological change that we should all bear in mind when contemplating effects of technology on ourselves, our peers, and the world.

1

“We always pay a price for technology; the greater the technology, the greater the price.”

Before reading this article I never considered that with each technological gain there would be a corresponding loss.  I know that I am not alone in saying that I enjoy technology for its face value and fail to acknowledge the much bigger picture. When acquiring a cell phone, one is more likely to consider how it will keep them in contact with distant relatives and the world than how it will diminish their immediate relations. Spending time with friends and family is quickly becoming simply a group of people sitting in the vicinity of one another preoccupied with what is being posted on social media or what the latest gossip is. And as a more recent example, the global privacy issues that arose after the NSA was exposed for spying is a huge disadvantage to the originally profound and exciting connectedness we all share.

2

“There are always winners and losers, and that the winners always try to persuade the losers that they are really winners.”

When it comes to computers the winners are the multiple corporations that take advantage of the connectedness created by the internet and use it for advertising purposes. This means that we the people are the losers in this scenario, being constantly drowned with annoying junkmail, pop up advertisements, and much more.

3

“There is embedded in every great technology an epistemological, political or social prejudice. Sometimes that bias is greatly to our advantage. Sometimes it is not”

A great example of this is as more and more portable technologies are developed our level of connectedness with our immediate surroundings actually diminishes. How often do you find yourself walking down the street with headphones playing in your ears or paying attention to some detail on your phone rather than paying attention to the people and environment around you? How often do you sit in a room of friends and everyone of you is captured by something happening in the digital world. Technology is diminishing our ability to interact with people and to pay attention to immediate suroundings.

4

“Technological change is not additive; it is ecological, which means, it changes everything”

This idea supports the saying, ‘The Medium is the Message’ in that the way in which we choose to use technology as well as our frequency slowly begins to define our culture.  For instance, with the introduction of mobile technologies; the laptop and the cell phone especially, we have become a more connected society in that we can communicate with each other over distances and stay up to date with news but we have also become an overly distracted society in that a person or group of people could be sitting in a room physically but not be paying attention to anything going on around them. Mobile technology has change the way we interact with people in a physical and in the moment manner. It has created a distracted lifestyle.

5

“Technology tends to become mythic; that is, perceived as part of the natural order of things, and therefore tends to control more of our lives than is good for us. “

If someone posed the question, “How would you react if digital technology suddenly failed tomorrow?” What would be your first thought?

Panic

If technology failed suddenly, society as we know it would fall into chaos. We have grown into a people who idolize technology and could not survive without its merits. We suffer a dramatic population loss before our culture began to reshape itself based on the lack of digital technology. This is because we put technology on a pedestal. We do not question it. We bow down to it in all its new, shiny, digital, glory and because of this we would be lost without it.