S2E6 - Tech: Resistance is Futile (or is it?)
Does technology control history? Or does history control tech? Adam & Chris take sides.
When major technologies hit the world stage, do they upend human history?
There are a couple camps out there in scholarship. But one of the big questions is—how big of an influence is technology on human society?
Tech Controls History (Chris)
The technologies that Chris mentions (partly stolen from Neil Postman Technopoly)
|Protestant Reformation (Luther)
Colonialism / Subjugation
History (Society) Controls Tech
Amish communities make decisions about what tech to adopt and how. Read Adam’s article on Amish Technology.
So do Orthodox Jewish communities. Read Professor Heidi Campbell on the kosher cell phone.
Neil Postman’s Technopoly contains the example about samurai.
Where Do You Stand?
Here’s the quick and dirty chart:
On one side, you have hard technological determinists, that say that big technologies like the wheel or the printing press or the smartphone have landed on the scene and changed everything. And really everybody was swept up into the wave. Not a lot you could do about it. These have been media ecologists like Neil Postman or Marshall McLuhan among others.
On the other side, you have those that say societies do make decisions about and control what technologies that they use and they don’t. They have examples. This is Social Construction of Technology.
In the middle there are softer positions on each side: “soft determinists” agree that tech has a huge role, but also want to cite other big factors like economics and government and religion. Or or a more nuanced version of “history controls tech” is Social Shaping of Technology. Social scientists like Heidi Campbell think this way with religious communities.
The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill
Meaning in Technology, Arnold Pacey
Personal Connections in a Digital Age, Nancy Baym
“You Mean My Whole Fallacy is Wrong” on Technological Determinism, John Durham Peters