Technological Techniques: Humanizing Technique and Media Environments Through Conditioning of Technological Man

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Media architecture is emphatically ambiguous. The phrase has been pasted wholesale onto a dizzying array of projects and products. But beyond imprecision, media architecture is vexed by an inherent tension: media are networked, immediate, dynamic com
Media architecture is emphatically ambiguous. The phrase has been pasted wholesale onto a dizzying array of projects and products. But beyond imprecision, media architecture is vexed by an inherent tension: media are networked, immediate, dynamic com
Many scientists in the field of Artificial Computer Intelligence processors and other related hardware are becoming more and more powerful, and scientists are predicting that machines as intelligent or even more intelligent than us will be created in
Many scientists in the field of Artificial Computer Intelligence processors and other related hardware are becoming more and more powerful, and scientists are predicting that machines as intelligent or even more intelligent than us will be created in
New Technology for Genomic DNA Isolation
New Technology for Genomic DNA Isolation
At the 2011 Siggraph Asia event, a leading conference on computer graphics and techniques, researchers will be presenting emerging technologies that immerse your senses
At the 2011 Siggraph Asia event, a leading conference on computer graphics and techniques, researchers will be presenting emerging technologies that immerse your senses
New Technologies and learning is the best investment that can be done when we wish to change the world. When we study the ways we communicate, we can thus pass our knowledge to future generations. We are all wired-up today
New Technologies and learning is the best investment that can be done when we wish to change the world. When we study the ways we communicate, we can thus pass our knowledge to future generations. We are all wired-up today
The Grid. The Internet will become more faster by Grid technologies. It's new technique for internet data transfer. Fifty years of innovation have increased the raw speed of individual computers by a factor of  around one million, yet they are far to
The Grid. The Internet will become more faster by Grid technologies. It's new technique for internet data transfer. Fifty years of innovation have increased the raw speed of individual computers by a factor of around one million, yet they are far to
Robotics and their future applications and usage are now becoming a reality
Robotics and their future applications and usage are now becoming a reality
Solar Electric car, Quant NLV Solar AG Electric Car- It is still presented as a Concept Car-, with some aerodynamic features and windows designed for maximum sunlight intake and this offers the slick look of the car design.
Solar Electric car, Quant NLV Solar AG Electric Car- It is still presented as a Concept Car-, with some aerodynamic features and windows designed for maximum sunlight intake and this offers the slick look of the car design.
Air Car. Renewable energy transportation systems
Air Car. Renewable energy transportation systems
Six Sense Innovation of MIT and the gadget is known as WUW(Wear Your World). Six Sense means to predict some more special features that are not shown at that time. Six Sense works in this way, like, if you pick any products and take it in front of W
Six Sense Innovation of MIT and the gadget is known as WUW(Wear Your World). Six Sense means to predict some more special features that are not shown at that time. Six Sense works in this way, like, if you pick any products and take it in front of W
Computer Pen - Its a complete computer, cell phone, GPS tracker, covert video camera, fax machine. wireless internet browser, high resolution still camera, wireless email checker and sender, roll-out iPod, MP3 and MP4 player, movie downloader and pla
Computer Pen - Its a complete computer, cell phone, GPS tracker, covert video camera, fax machine. wireless internet browser, high resolution still camera, wireless email checker and sender, roll-out iPod, MP3 and MP4 player, movie downloader and pla
This is a single thinking/web/computer that is planetary in dimensions It contains approximately 1.2 billion personal computers; 2.7 billion cell phones; 1.3 billion land phones; 27 million data servers; 80 million wireless PDAs; 100 million transist
This is a single thinking/web/computer that is planetary in dimensions It contains approximately 1.2 billion personal computers; 2.7 billion cell phones; 1.3 billion land phones; 27 million data servers; 80 million wireless PDAs; 100 million transist
Mercedes Benz has introduced new technology that lets two different images or programs be displayed onscreen at once on the instrument panel
Mercedes Benz has introduced new technology that lets two different images or programs be displayed onscreen at once on the instrument panel
Humanizing Technique: digital media strategy and strategy logo
Humanizing Technique: digital media strategy and strategy logo
Portable folding bike design for user convenience and comfort - this is bringing design to ordinary life together through humanizing design process
Portable folding bike design for user convenience and comfort - this is bringing design to ordinary life together through humanizing design process
As attractive as it can be to get the latest and greatest technological, consumers should think about the pollution and the waste an unessential new product will generate- This is part of the 70 million tons of waste
As attractive as it can be to get the latest and greatest technological, consumers should think about the pollution and the waste an unessential new product will generate- This is part of the 70 million tons of waste
One cannot resist embracing merging technologies, new technology gadgets, and technology altogether. People are going from tech boo to technophobe, and finally tech evangelists as these gizmos evolve We end up loving the new emerging gadgets
One cannot resist embracing merging technologies, new technology gadgets, and technology altogether. People are going from tech boo to technophobe, and finally tech evangelists as these gizmos evolve We end up loving the new emerging gadgets
Human-like robots
Human-like robots | Source
Robotic companions for people already in production as can be seen from this model above
Robotic companions for people already in production as can be seen from this model above
The Japanese have developed a realistic Human Android
The Japanese have developed a realistic Human Android
Japanese female android robot
Japanese female android robot

Applying Technique to Re-Humanize Change

The advent and end of slavery created a phases in human relation that persist to this day, thus known as racism. The relations between men were economic, political, social and religious. Implanted in these intentions and interaction was the perception of the self premised upon Superiority and Inferiority Complexes. The hue of ones skin color become one of the many determining factors of this communion. Social relations became cemented in these artificial values.

One group of the Society had ways and means of creating a chasm between people of different nations, colors and religions. Some were captured from Africa and other countries, and enslaved and dehumanized. This created an uneven social development and growth, misery and underdevelopment of large segment of the society. This phase of human development was interrupted by the changing and developing societies from rudimentary technologies, to automation and newly invented technologies in all spheres of human and social endeavors and need for change.

Marshall McLuhan says: "The situation of Africa today is complicated by the new electronic technology. Western man himself being de-Westernized by his own new speed-up, as much as the Africans are being detribalized by our old print and industrial technology. If we understood our own media old and new, these confusions and disruptions could be programmed and synchronized.

The very success we enjoy in specializing and separating functions in order to have speed-up, however, is at the same time the cause of inattention and unawareness of the situation. It has ever been thus in the Western World, at least. Self-consciousness of the causes and limits of one's own culture seems to threaten the ego structure and is, therefore, avoided.

Nietzsche said that understanding stops action, and men of action seem to have an intuition of the fact in their shunning the dangers of comprehension." It should therefore be noted that the decline of the old ways of dissemination of information and communication are replaced by new forms of interacting, dissemination and messaging. McLuhan observes: "Print or mechanized introduced a separation and extension of human function to unknown in history....

Speed, at least in its lower reaches of the mechanical order, always operates to separate, to extend, and to amplify functions of the body. When information moves at the speed of signals in the central nervous system, man is confronted with the obsolescence of earlier forms of acceleration, such as road and rail," [or TV and Internet] . What emerges is a total field of inclusive awareness. The old patterns of psychic and social adjustment become irrelevant. The result was a magnificent and magnanimous giant paradigm shift

Automated Change

The Industrial Revolution brought about steam engines and automated machinery. Coal and electricity helped develop more efficient and fully automated. This gave rise to Technique and rudimentary Technology. With Technology and Technique, the merger thereof, we saw the invention and innovation of small and large gadgets we began to see washing machines, typewriters, Lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners, toasters, and so forth. Electric stoves Society was becoming modernized and slowly being technologized through Automation and Technique. While these benevolent acts were unfolding, the society within which this change was taking place was hardcore racist.

At the same time we see the beginnings and rise of the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Within these social relations, a maintenance of crude dominance of slave labor necessitated for the accrual of wealth at the expense of slave labor. This edge made consumerism of the day possible, and the dehumanization of slaves inevitable. The need for development modernizing the new societies, gave rise to colonization, slavery and the extraction of raw materials from those colonized countries, namely Africa, China, Caribbean, etc., and other colonized societies.

The colonizing State carried out this deed through legislated Law, Religion and business acumen. Earnings from these early economies made it possible for the owners to reap bounty, and the slaves to clamor for crumbs. As automation grew, so did the consumption of the rich elite, resulting in disastrous poverty and disenfranchisement of the poor and exploited laborers and slave. African Slaves bore the brunt of this social set up.

From the Morse Code to AM and FM radios these technological gadgets were now being mass produced. Technology became Media which slowly began eroding and dissipating borders and limitations that curtailed human connectedness and communication; this also had the effect of corroding and slowly dislocating the rigid and time encrusted social relations of master and servant/slave. Segregated dwellings, spaces and jobs became the norm. The development of the rich elite who had everything, and the underdevelopment of the poor and down-trodden, who had nothing, ever widened.

Communications was from top to down. The elite were the senders of messages, orders and, commands and demands; the slaves and poor were there as receptors and executors of all commands, demands and so forth. Consumerism of the early elites, and their thirst for spending, facilitated and necessitated for the development of technique and technology; this further stripped the have-nots of any bit of crumb left of gnaw on.

The speed up of electronic age is as disrupting for literate, lineal and western man as the Roman paper routes were for tribal villagers. Our speed-up today is not is not outward explosion from center to margins, but an instant implosion and interfusion of space and functions. Our specialist, and fragmented civilization of center-margin structure is suddenly experiencing an instantaneous reassembling of all its mechanized bits into an organic whole.

This is the world of the global village.(McLuhan) "The village," according to Lewis Mumford, "had achieved a social institutional extension of all human faculties." This reality has manifested itself in the form of the Internet and its interlocking web-like tentacles that extend our communication needs, ideas and reality, interaction and connectivity. Makes one wonder if we are harkening back to collective unconsciousness or move into the state of a democracy within a state of a cyber global village, in the process extending us with it, in effect, then the electric age brings number back into unity with visual and auditory experience for good or ill, as observed by McLuhan. The internet has all of these possibilities wrapped up into one. I am just wondering what an accelerated automated, and the unity of numbers, visual and auditory experience in the form of he Internet will do to us in the end…

Technique and Deconstruction of Race

The advent of computer made possible for the introduction of the Internet and its concomitants. The landline phone, by Bell, saw the introduction of the Beeper, then the emergence of the cell phone, the i-phone, i-tunes, texting, twittering and so forth. As these gadgets and their technologies merged, we began to witness the extension and booming of human communication and connection. This connectedness is akin to the map of the human nervous system with all its tentacles and branches. Borders and other forms that constricted human connections and communications soon dissipated.

The social relation without these gadgets was being slowly nullified and a new awareness about human communication in a global sense was set in motion. Technology and technique slowly and surely had begun and is now in the process of deconstructing race and racism as we know it. The advancement and affordability of the technological gadgets and how they interconnect with one another,has demonstrated that ways of talking and dealing with each other has somewhat transcended race, color and creed.

We get to know each other's race or place or origin once we because we are from being the grammatical man, to a cyberphile whilst retaining our grammatical orientations. The web is fast developing its own linguistic and semantical jargon. This somehow eliminates the use of grammar and the dramatical man that makes grammatical man use to determine race, culture or creed, evaluation of the other and in a way, cybernetics has enabled the recreation of an Internet global Community interconnecting under one cyber community linked into common cyber linguistic forum.

According to Campbell, the term 'cybernetics' Comes from a Greek word meaning steersman, and it carries the sense of stability, of constant correct functioning. Cybernetics enforces consistency. It permits change, but the change must be orderly and abide by the rules. It is a universal principle of control, and can be applied to all kinds of organization, just as Shannon's theorems apply to communication of all kinds.

It does not matter whether the system is electrical, chemical, mechanical, biological or economical. So that, the notions of race become challenged by the amorphous and intertwined entity with nervous system-like tentacles and tendrils and myriad interconnections, stuffed with technicized mnemonics, memes and data-engorged and embedded within the Web as cyber babble.

Satellite Communication Technology has made earthlings to live in a Global Village through its ability to beam signals of all the gadgets to all corners of the globe. This has helped with e-mails, cell phones, twitters, face-books, youtube, and other new means of inter-connecting, morphing, phasing in and out, downloading, googling, blogging, hubbing, posting , chatting, texting being online and so forth. Satellites and its interconnected technological gadgets, has given both the rich and poor capabilities and joining with other unknown people world-wide.

This new way of communicating with its new language has brought about and is beginning to debunk the decrepit notions or race and racism in the ether, web and data-sphere. Web names and other such features have replace peoples first name, race and religion. So long as one is surfing the web on the cell phone, logging, posting, chatting and sending photos, text messaging and so on, the rigid social relations are replaced by a new form and format of human connection, conversation and communication.

Social relations are no more only land based, but are on the tendrils and nervous-system-like connections fed by the Satellite and the nascent and emerging technologies, techniques and media savviness of its users, globally. Interconnectivity has given rise to many internet cyber communities that it is becoming difficult to cope with the different formations and interconnections. The dissolution of traditional ways of learning and the old ways we interacted with each other or as media receptacles of old media and technological gadgets, has us disseminating and regurgitating and imbibing new ways communicating with one another, globally, which have changed.

Times have changed since Christopher Columbus set foot on the American shores… Social relations are now governed and dictated by technology and technique, efficiency and effectiveness. Regionalism and nationalism, racism and so on, face daunting pressures from these new and fascinating technological gadgets and the technological capacity and abilities. These new machines and the advanced technological feats are used by contemporary societies to interrogate and challenge unjust and unusual social ills and the nature of new human connectedness and communications(as was the case in China, Iran, etc.)

Technique, technology and consumerism, has slowly debunked and deconstructed the archaic beliefs and economic systems, which are still trying to maintain, the notions of race and racism, within all social interactions and social relations, technological connections and human communications Maybe technology will take over social relations on issues of race and racism; we might see the introduction of a genuinely Technological Society where human beings converge ad morph with each other through the modernized technological gadgets, which easily, it seems, are able to suspend and debunk the decrepit and old decaying issues of race relations in human communications and social relations and interaction.

As we become adept with using technology and technique, the hope is for that we are ultimately one species, of human, with all types of hue and language, cultures and so forth developing and evolving as technology and technique evolve and morphs into the future.

Technological Progress and Unintended Consequences

The final aspect of the ambiguity of technical resides in the following state of affairs. When scientists carry out their researches in one or another discipline and hit upon new technical means, they generally see clearly in what sphere the new technique will be applicable. Certain results are expected and gotten. But, there are always secondary effects which had not been anticipated, which in the primary stage of technical progress in question could not in principle have been anticipated. This unpredictability arises from the fact that predictability implies complete possibility of experimenting in every sphere, an inconceivable state of Affairs.

For example, this principle discussed above is furnished by drugs. Whenever you have a headache, you take an aspirin. When the headache disappears, you find that the aspirin has other actions besides doing away with the headaches. In the beginning people were totally unaware of these side effects, but by now,most of us have probably read some articles or seen some Television report about the side effects of the over-the-counter medicines, aspirins included, having warnings issued against their use because of their dangerous side-effects, and in some cases raise our blood pressures if not kill us.

Grave hemorrhages have appeared in people who habitually too or three aspirins daily. Yet Aspirin was thought the perfect remedy a mere one and a half decades ago — on the ground that no side effect were to be feared. Today, such effects begin to appear even in what was, and is, probably the most harmless of drugs.(Moran)

Another example is that of vocational opportunities being connected to the invention of the automobile. In truth, the invention of the automobile did suppress some a lot of vocations resulting in a vast number of persons being laid off; but it brought about innumerable others into being with people now employed by this industry and were working servicing this industry. Needless to say that this is a somewhat heartless comment, because even though we say that those who lost their job, with a lapse of a certain time, eventual found a job, and that they have been reclassified and unemployment will die out, humanly speaking, what will the situation of the unemployed be like? Here we see that unintended consequences of the invention of an automobile, which in the interim has permanently created unemployment a feature of our present-day lexicon and reality.

Another example of the unintended consequences posed by new technologies and future techniques was furnished by the psycho-sociological studies of the articular psychology of big city dwellers, where once more, we are confronted with the effect of the technical environment on the human being. One of the principal elements of big city life is the feeling of isolation, loneliness, absence of human contact, etc. One of the leading ideas of Le Corbusier in his Maison des Hommes was the admission that, "Big City dwellers do not know one another. Let us create great blocks of dwellings where people will meet one another as they did in the village with everything(grocer, baker, butcher) included in the block so that people will get to know one another and a community will come into being...."

The result of Le Corbusier's creation was exactly the opposite of what he had planned; problems of loneliness and isolation in such blocks of dwelling proved to be much more tragic in the normal and traditional city. New technologies and techniques applied amidst a milieu in any fashion, tends to have unforeseen consequences. The new cars, robots, the new grid, new modes of transportation, pen computers and the Web, housing, you name it, all have and will continue to have unintended consequences, although some of them we have not yet encountered right now, some we have.

In our day, human techniques offer great hopes to man, sorely beset by anxiety. Man Menaced by his own discoveries and no longer capable of mastering the forces unleashed by them, is to have his greatness restored by human techniques. The liberation of man, not by technique in general, but specifically through the agency of human technique, a liberation which should proceed from within man as from without. With the help of human sciences, man will be freed from technocracy itself.

Man is not supposed to be merely a technical object, but a participant in a complicated movement. Also, human techniques have tended to reconstitute the unity of the human being which had been shattered by the sudden and jarring action of technique. The grand design of human techniques is to make man the center of all techniques. Technical knowledge does give us new insights into human reality and can serve towards it unification. In all, the concrete details of man's life with respect to technical apparatus must be taken into consideration on the human plane. (Ellul)

The Character of Technique

Jacques Ellul gives this elaborate explanation on technique: Today's technical phenomenon, consequently, has almost nothing in common with the technical phenomenon of the past. I shall not insist on demonstrating the negative aspect of the case, the disappearance of the traditional characteristics. To do so would be artificial, didactic, and difficult to defend. I shall point out,then, in a summary fashion, that in our civilization technique is in no way limited. It has been extended to all spheres an encompasses every activity, including human activities. It has led to a multiplication of means without limits. It has perfected indefinitely the instruments available to man, and put at his disposal an almost limitless variety of intermediaries and auxiliaries.

Technique has been extended geographically so that it covers the whole earth. It is evolving with a rapidity disconcerting not only to the man in the street, but to the technician himself. It poses problems which recur endlessly and every more acutely in human social groups. Moreover, technique has become objective and is transmitted like a physical thing; it leads thereby to a certain unity of civilization, regardless of the environment or the country in which it operates. We are faced with the exact opposite of the traits previously in force, examine carefully the positive characteristics of the technique of the present."

Ellul says that there two essential and obvious characters of technique which we should be aware of: "The first of these obvious characteristics is rationality. In technique, whatever its aspect or the domain in which it is applied, a rational process is present which tends to bring mechanics to bear on all that is spontaneous or irrational. This rationality, best exemplified in systematization, division of labor, creation of standards, production norms, and the like, involves two distinct phases: first, the use of "discourse" in every operation; This excludes spontaneity and personal creativity. Second, there is the reduction of method to its logical dimension alone. Every intervention of technique is, in effect, a reduction of facts, forces phenomena, means, and instruments to the schema of logic."

"The second obvious characteristic of the technical phenomenon is artificiality. Technique is opposed to nature. Art, artifice, artificial: technique as art is the creation of an artificial system. This is not a matter of opinion. This means man has at his disposal as a function of technique are artificial means. For this reason, the comparison proposed by Emanuel Mounier between the machine and the human body is valueless. The world that is being created by the accumulation of technical means is an artificial world and hence radically different from the natural world.

It destroys, eliminates, or subordinates the natural world, and does not allow this world to restore itself or even to enter into a symbiotic relation with it. The two worlds obey different imperatives, different directives and different laws which have nothing in common. Just as hydroelectric installations take waterfalls and laid them into conduits, so the technical milieu absorbs the natural. We are rapidly approaching the time when there will be no longer any natural environment at all."(Ellul)

The power of technique to transform our world and reality into an artificial environment has already arrived and has been experienced through the Web and new technological gadgets. At the same time, we know that or life is based on the techniques that have been measured and calculated mathematically, it becomes predictable and efficient, but it also builds our dependency on it. The worrisome thought is whether man will be decapitated from the natural world into the word of the artificial technical automatism, self augmentation, monism, universalism and autonomy. This remains to be seen and we are more than ever leaning towards the direction of that state of existence and being. The characteristics of techniques are so powerful that they transform and morph our world under its dictates. The fight is between the latter and the ability of humans to transform technique and technology into the human realm of existence: that of man dictating existence through control of technology. (Ellul)

On the issues touched on in the previous paragraph, Pope Pius XXII was deeply concerned that there be serious study of the media today. On February 1950, he said: "It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of modern society and the stability of its inner life depend in a large part on the maintenance of an equilibrium between the strength of the techniques of communication and the capacity of the individual's own reaction. A.J. Liebling stated in his book The Press, that a man is not free it he cannot see where he is going, even if he has a gun to help him get there. for each of the media is a powerful weapon with which to clobber other media and other groups. The result is that the present age has been one of multiple civil wars that are not limited to the world of art and entertainment… Prof. J. U. Nef asserted: "The total wars of our time have been the result of a series of intellectual mistakes."

If the formative power in the media are the media themselves, that raises a host of large matters that can only be mentioned here, although they deserve volume. Namely, that technological media are staples or natural resources, exactly as are coal and cotton and oil. Anybody will concede that society whose economy is dependent upon one or two major staples like cotton, or grain, or lumber, or fish, or cattle is going to have some social patterns of organization as a result. Stress on a few major staples create extreme instability in the economy but great endurance in the population. The pathos and humor of the American South are embedded in such an economy of limited staples. For a society configured by reliance on a few commodities accepts them as a social bond quite as much as the metropolis does the press.

Cotton and oil, like radio and TV, become fixed charges on the entire psychic life of the community, and this pervasive fact creates the unique cultural flavor of any society. It pays through the nose and all its other sense of each staple that shapes its life.(McLuhan) Today's society is shaped by the abundance of its resources and means of maintaining and containing them. A technological society is therefore shaped and formed by the technical advancements and technologies it creates for itself in abundance. Material accrual and abundance give rise to societies that are formed and shaped by the sophistication and accessibility of the machines of technology imbued with technique which is human-user-friendly.

As the new diverging, interconnecting, interactive and emerging new media can now be viewed as "natural resources" akin to coal,oil , etc., it is important for us to understand a bit how this dislocation and dissociation happens and what are the effects and affects of this reality. Jacques Ellul writes: "A second element, which is of great

That's our human sense of which all media are extensions or ourselves, are also fixed charges on our personal energies of each one of us, and may be perceived in another connection mentioned by the psychologist C. G. Jung: "Every Roman was surrounded by slaves, and the slave and his psychology flooded ancient Italy, and every Roman became inwardly, and of course unwittingly, a slave. Because living constantly in the atmosphere of slaves, he became infected through the unconscious with their psychology.No one can shield himself from such an influence."

The abundance of technologies which are flooding the consumer markets patronized by the technically consuming milieu, they, the users, become overtaken by the machinery they use and apply in their day-to-day lives, and the imbibed new techniques they learn from these gadgets, and these technologies and techniques are either t going to humanize the technique or the technique will engulf or is engulfing the mass consuming technological society.

Ours is a progressively technical civilization: by this Ellul means that the ever expanding and irreversible rules of technique are extended to all domains of life. It is a civilization committed to the quest for continually improved means to carelessly examined ends. Indeed, technique transforms ends into means. What was once prized in its own right now becomes worthwhile only if it helps achieve something else. And, conversely, technique turns means into ends, "Know-how" takes on an ultimate value. (Ellul) For humans this is achieved through the new technological machines and the techniques embedded in them that in the end this has created a dependency and a technicized society and man.

Are we still naturally human beings or mechanized technologized slaves of technical machines and their technique? Are we in a position in our present day of our Technological society to be able to humanize technique and technology, or we have already lost our humanity to technique and technology along with its handmaiden, technological gadgets? It might be that we are already good copies of technique more than we are humans, and this needs to be meditated and pondered upon. It is amazing how contemporary man has backed-off from interrogating technology and technique, and has turned around and surrounded himself completely with technology, and is in a preset compliant mode.

Technological Dissociation and Dislocation

What has happened in this case is that, Computer technology has not yet come to the printing press in its powerful hey-days[but one has to note that it has been steadily ground faster than we can grapple with that growth of the computer power and reach], to generate radical and substantive social,political, and religious thought. If the press was, as David Riesman called it, "the gunpowder of the mind," the computer, in its capacity to smooth over unsatisfactory institutions and ideas, is the talcum powder of the mind. What is clear is that, to date, computer technology has served to strengthen Technopoly's hold, to make people believe that technological innovation is synonymous with human progress." Riesman) "

This has caused us to begin our relationship with machines under wrong assumptions. Postman writes: "But because the computer "thinks" rather than works, its power to energize mechanistic metaphors is unparalleled and of enormous value to Technopoly, which depends on our believing that we are at our best when acting like machines, and that in significant ways machines may be trusted to act as our surrogates. Among the implications of these beliefs is a loss of confidence in human judgement and subjectivity.

We have devalued the singular human capacity to see things whole in all their psychic, emotional and moral dimensions, and we have replaced this with faith in the powers of technical calculation. We have put all our trust into the efficiently brought about by the technique embedded within the technology, we then need to know much more better about the technology and its technique, which has its own shortcomings as we learn from the following excerpt by Postman:

Since printing created new forms of literature when it replaced the handwritten manuscript, it is possible that electronic writing will do the same. But for the moment, computer technology functions more as a new mode of transportation than as a new means of substantive communication. It moves information — lots of it, fast, and mostly in a calculating mode. Computers make it easy to convert facts into statistics and to translate problems into equations. And whereas this can be useful (as when the process reveals a pattern that would otherwise go unnoticed), it is diversionary and dangerous when applied indiscriminately to human affairs.

So is the computer's emphasis on speed an especially its capacity to generate and store unprecedented quantities of information. In specialized contexts,the value of calculation, speed, and voluminous information may go uncontested. But the "message" of computer technology is comprehensive and domineering. The computer argues, to put it badly, that the most serious problems confronting us at both personal and public levels require technical solutions through fast access to information otherwise unavailable.

I would argue that this is, on the face of it, nonsense. Our most serious problems are not technical, nor do they arise from inadequate information. If families break up,children are mistreated, crime terrorizes a city, education is impotent, it does not happen because of inadequate information. Mathematical equations, instantaneous communications, and vast quantities of information have nothing whatever to do with any of these problems. And the computer is useless in addressing them.

Whenever the mass public consumes all the present environments of media culture they inevitable suffer from dislocation and dissociation from their humanity. Jacques Ellul writes: "A second element, which is of great importance, is the human dissociation produced by techniques. The purpose of our human techniques is ostensibly to reintegrate and restore the lost unity of the human being. But the unity produced is the abstract unity of the ideal Man; in reality, the concrete application of techniques dissociates man into fragments.

The dislocation of mental activity from physical actions probably results in a lessening of fatigue since there is no longer any need to participate or to make decisions ...To do so is inevitably to weaken human personality; it is impossible so to fragment man's personality without weakening it. A certain disequilibration may be avoided by these means. But the loss of creative power has disastrous psychological consequences.

When the human being is no longer responsible for his work and no longer figures in it, he fells spiritually outraged. The technical organization of the technical society may obviate certain tendencies to aggression and frustration (in a non-Freudian sense). But the annihilation of work and its compensation with leisure resolves the conflicts by referring them to a subhuman plane."

For us to completely understand our technicized world, we will cite Ellul who states: "Our technical world not only creates these feelings of insecurity[dislocation and dissociations], spontaneously, it develops them with malice aforethought for technical reasons and technical means which, in their action on the human being, reinforce the structures of that technical world." Ellul cites Robert Ley who declared that, "The only person who still remains a private individual is he who is asleep," and in the end Ellul concludes thus,"The words might be taken to refer exclusively to the Nazi Regime. But they are not limited.

They pertain to the integration of all men into a brutally technicized environment. Modern society is moving toward a mass society, but the human being is still not fully adapted to this new form. ...Human techniques must therefore act to adapt man to the mass. Moreover, these techniques remain at variance with the other material techniques on which they depend. They must contribute to making a mass man and help put an end to what has hitherto been considered the normal type of humanity." As the times and society change into the Technological society, it is incumbent upon man to work to normalize humanity over and above the brutal reality of a technicized society and reality.

Humanizing Technique and Changing Times

At this juncture we will utilize an article by Nathaniel Shepard who wrote in his article dubbed "How Technology Will Enhance Life in 2020":

"The TV show, The Twilight Zone, has an episode in which a prisoner, who is banished to an uninhabited planet, is given a robot that thinks, has emotions and looks like a woman, as part of his annual supplies from earth. He rejects the robot, at first, but over time she becomes a woman companion that he falls in love with. He is later heartbroken when he is pardoned, flown home and she is destroyed. A prototype of a robot with feelings and emotions is now under development at MIT's artificial Intelligence Lab [Also, in Japan].

This is a part of our world to come as some futurists see it: a world in which we retain the Horatio Alger work ethic, yet have more leisure time; a world in which machines work for us and become companions as well. In the home, the future of small integrated smart chips will run our appliances. They will enable the furnace to heat or cool rooms individually, tell the house what time to lock the doors for the night, and play soothing sounds of the ocean to help us get to sleep. What "smart appliances" don't control, robots likely will.

Some will be the R2D2 types that will handle tasks such as vacuuming or taking out the garbage. Others will be capable of more complex tasks like grocery shopping. We will start seeing humanlike robots that will talk, have feelings and emotions and they will work better than a pet in curing loneliness because they will be able to relate to and learn from you. Compiling a shopping list will involve an inexpensive electronic reader scanning the household products to determine if they need to be reordered.

Trash cans would have similar devices that could read bar codes of discarded items and signal which need to be restocked. Parents will not have to worry about their teen-agers banging up the car. It will be able to drive itself with the help of a navigation system that uses global positioning satellites for directions and sophisticated sensing devices(some of which have now been put in place in some American Highways)- And Robots which are humanoid are already in existence(especially in Japan).

Personal computers will become smaller and more powerful and that by 2020, computer keyboards will have given way to verbal commands[this is already happening, and the internet or Web can be found on modern slick and thin cellphones and other gadgets-[see the Picture gallery]. One's computer, TV and telephone will merge into a single unit (this is already happening).

Cell phones will change, and will be completely have wireless connectivity to the net, in the form of a chip embedded behind our ear or in a hearing-aid devise(this too has already taken place). Technology will replace cellular phones and laptop computers with an "information appliance" that will enable people to communicate with one another from anywhere in the world, and computer crime will come such advances(this too is happening and cyber crime is the talk today).

Genetically based diseases will be routinely identified in the future through high resolution DNA analysis and that patients will affected cells individually targeted for treatment. We will be able to grow our own organs for transplant, from bone marrow placed in an immunodeficient genetically engineered animal. There wouldn't be a need for donors(this is still going and has yet to be accepted or approved). But for all the time such technology will save us and the new efficiencies it would create, will it bring us as a species closer together or work to make ours a cold and impersonal society?

Having read what Sheppard is saying, we turn back to Ellul who states: "Up to now, in discussing human techniques we have considered only man's need for adaptation with a view to his happiness or, at least, his equilibrium. ...In our culture, the person who is not consciously adapted to his group cannot put up adequate resistance. ...It cannot be denied that this kind of conscious level psychological adaptation, which gives the individual a chance to survive and even be happy, can produce beneficial affects (as noted above in the preceding excerpt). Though he loses much personal responsibility, he gains as compensation a spirit of co-operation and a certain self-respect in his relations with other members of the group.

These are eminently collectivist virtues, but they are not negligible, and they assure the individual a certain human dignity in the collectivity of mass men. While I have insisted on the "humanistic" tendencies of human techniques and, starting from the premise that man must be adapted to be happy, have tried to demonstrate the necessity of these techniques and their interrelation with all other techniques, my attitude has been resolutely optimistic. I have presupposed that technical practices and the intentions of the technicians were subordinated to a concern with human good. I proceeded from the most favorable position, that of integral humanism, which, it is claimed, is their foundation."

Ellul further adds that: "But there are more compelling realities. The tendency toward psychological collectivization does not have man's welfare as its end. It is designed just as well for his exploitation. In today;s world, psychological collectivization is the sine qua non of technical action. ...The problem then is to get the individual's consent artificially thorough depth psychology, since he will not give it of his own free will.

But the decision to give consent must appear to be spontaneous. Anyone who prates about furnishing man an ideal or a faith to live by is helping to bring about technique's ascendancy, however much he talks about "good will". The "ideal" becomes so through the agency of purely technical means whose purpose is to enable men to support an insupportable situation created within the framework of technical culture.

This attitude is not the antithesis of the humanistic attitude, and the two are interwoven and it is completely artificial to try to separate them. Human activity in the technical milieu must correspond to this milieu and also must be collective. It must belong to the order of the conditioned reflex. Complete human discipline must respond to technical necessity. And as the technical milieu concerns all men, no mere handful of them but the totality of society is to be conditioned in this way. The reflex must be a collective one.

Ellul examines anew what the essential tragedy of a civilization increasingly dominated by technique. Despite Ellul's forceful emphasis upon the erosion of moral values brought about by technicism, he was neither writing or talking about a latter-day Luddite tract nor a sociological apocalypse. He shows that he is thoroughly familiar with the cant perpetuated by technophobes and for the most part manages to avoid their cliches. In fact, he examines the role of technique in modern society, and offers a system of thought that, with some critical modification, can help us understand the forces behind the development of the technical civilization that is distinctively ours.

By technique, for example, he means far more than machine technology. Technique refers to any complex of standardized means for attaining a predetermined result. Thus, it converts spontaneous and unreflective behavior into behavior that is deliberate and rationalized. The Technical Man is fascinated by results, by immediate consequences of setting standardized devices into motion. He cannot help admiring the spectacular effectiveness of nuclear weapons of war. Above all, he is committed to the never-ending search for "the one best way" to achieve any designated objective.

Ours Is A Progressively Technical Civilization

By this, Ellul means that the ever-expanding and irreversible rule of technique is extended to all domains of life.It is a civilization committed to the quest of continually improved means to carelessly examined ends. Indeed, technique transforms ends to means. What was once prized in its own right now becomes worthwhile only if it helps achieve something else. And, conversely, technique turns means into ends. "Know-how" takes on an ultimate value.(Merton)

Only the naive can really believe that the world-wide movement toward centralism results from machinations of evil statesmen. ... Politics in turn becomes an arena for contention among rival techniques. The Intellectual discipline of economics itself becomes technicized. Technical economic analysis is substituted for the older political economy included in which was a major concern with the moral structure of economic activity.

Politics in turn becomes an arena for contention among rival technique. The technician sees the nation differently from the political man: to the technician, the nation is nothing more than another sphere in which to apply the instruments he has developed. To him, the state is not the expression of the will of the people, nor a divine creation nor a creature of class conflict. It is an enterprise providing services that must be made to function efficiently.

He judges states in terms of their capacity to utilize techniques effectively, not in terms of their relative justice. Political doctrine revolves around what is useful than what is good. Purposes drop out of sight and efficiency becomes the central concern. As the political form best suited to the massive and unprincipled use of technique, dictatorship gains power. And this in turn narrows the range of choice for the democracies: Either they too use some version of effective technique-centralized control and propaganda-or they will fall behind.

Restraints on the rule of technique become increasingly tenuous. Public opinion provides no control because it too is largely oriented toward "performance" and technique is regarded as the prime instrument of performance, whether in the economy or in politics, in art, sports, media and communications.

Not understanding what the rule of technique is doing to him and to his world, modern man is beset by anxiety and a feeling of insecurity. He tries to adapt to changes he cannot comprehend. The conflict of propaganda takes the place of the debate of ideas. Technique smothers the ideas that put its rule in question and filters out for the public discussion only those ideas that are in substantial accord with the values created by a technical civilization. Social criticism is negated because there is only slight access to the technical means required to reach large numbers of people.

In Ellul's conception, then, life is not happy in a civilization dominated by technique. Even the outward show of happiness is bought at the price of total acquiescence. The technological society requires men to be content with what they are required to like; for those who are not content, it provides distractions-escape into absorption with technically dominated media of popular culture and communication. And the process is a natural one: every part of a technical civilization responds to the social need generated by technique itself. Progress then consists in progressive de-humanization-a busy, pointless, and, in the end, suicidal submissions to technique.

The essential point, according to Ellul, is that technique produces all this without a plan; no one will it or arranges that it be so. Our technical civilization does not result from a Machiavellian scheme. It is a response to the "laws of development" of technique. Ellul reopens the great debate over the social, political, economic, and philosophical meaning of technique in the modern age.

He has given us provocative thoughts and ideas, in the sense that he has provoked us to re-examine our assumptions and to search out the flaws in his gloomy forecast. By doing so, he helps us to see beyond the banal assertion that ours has become a mass society, and he leads us to a greater understanding of that society (Merton)

Having an Ellul-esque explanation, definition and elaboration of technique will help us in the process to begin to understand our present-day technologies, which are heavily technique driven and determined much more better. We might also be in a position to begin to understand how when we affect and condition technique, how that in turn and in return affects and conditions us.

We Create Conditions That Condition Us

Lance Strate cites Hannah Arendt as follows; "The human condition comprehends more than the condition under which life has been given to man. Men are conditioned beings because everything they come into contact with turns immediately into a condition of their existence. The world in which vita activa spends itself consists of things produced by human activities; but the things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers." (Hannah Arendt)

Lance Strate elaborates further on the point made above by Hannah Arendt thus: "The human condition is the context or situation we, as human beings, find ourselves in, the implication being that human life cannot be fully understood by considering humanity isolation from its environment. We are, to a large degree, shaped by our environment, which is why Arendt refers ti us as "conditioned beings."

We are conditioned by phenomena external to us, and this may be considered learning in its broadest sense, that is, in the sense that the Skinnnerian response is a learned reaction to external stimuli. It follows that any form of life that is capable of modifying its behavior in response to external stimuli is, to some extent, a conditioned being.

Lance Strate gives us the following synergy: "In the passage quoted above, it is readily apparent that Arendt is an ecological thinker. In saying that things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers," she is saying that we create the conditions that in turn condition us.

We exist within a reciprocal relationship, a dialogue if you like, between the conditioned and the conditions, the internal and the external, the organism and its environment. The changes that we introduce into our environment, that alter the environment, feedback into ourselves as we are influenced, affected, and shaped by our environment [and its emerging and burgeoning gizmos]."

We Change Machines And Technology-They Change Us , Too

We Affect Change, And It In Turn Changes us

The contrast between using tools and techniques in the most basic way to adapt to the conditions of the environment, and the creation o an entirely new technological environment of great complexity that requires us to perform highly convoluted act os adaptation. The understanding that we are conditioned by the conditions we ourselves introduce was not unknown in the ancient world. The 115th Psalm of David, in its polemic against idolatry and the idols that are "the work of men's hands," cautions that, "they who make them shall be like unto them' yea every one that trusts in them."

Along the same lines, the gospel of Matthew includes the famous quote, "All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword," while the Epistle to the Galatians advises, "whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." A more contemporary variation of that maxim is, "As you make your bed, so you shall lie in it," although in the United States it is often rendered in the imperative and punitive form of, "you made your bed, go lie in it!" During the 19 century, Henry David Thoreau notified us that, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us," while Mark Twain humorously observed that, "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

More recently, we have been told, "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer," to which computer scientist have responded with the acronym GIDO, which stands for, "garbage in, garbage out." Winston Churchill said, "We shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us," and former Fordham professor John Culkin, in turn, offered, "we shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us," as a corollary to Marshall McLuhan's media ecology aphorism, "the medium is the message." (Lance Strate)

"All of these voices," writes Strate,"in their varying ways, are pointing to the same essential truth about the human condition that Arendt is relating in the quote at the beginning of this post. And to pick up where that quote leaves off, Arendt goes on to argue, "In addition to the conditions under which life is given to man on earth, and partly out of them, men constantly create their own, self-made conditions, which, their human being origin and their variability not withstanding, possess the same conditioning power as natural things."

The "conditions" that we make are used to create a buffer of shield against the conditions that we inherit, so that our self-made conditions are meant to stand between us and what we would consider to be natural environment. In this sense, our self-made conditions "mediate" between ourselves and the pre-existing conditions that we operate under, which is to say that our conditions are media of human life. And in mediating, in going between our prior conditions and ourselves, the new conditions that we create become our new environment. And as we become conditioned to our new conditions, they fade from view, being routinized they melt into the background and become essentially invisible us. (Strate)

Arendt concludes thus: "Whatever touches or enters into a sustained relationship with human life immediately assumes the character of a condition of human existence. This is why men,no matter what they do, are always conditioned beings. Whatever enters the worked on its own accord or is drawn into it by human effort becomes part of the human condition. The impact of the world's reality upon human existence is felt and received as a conditioning force. The objectivity of the world — its object-or thing-character — and the human conditioned existence, it would be impossible without things, and things would be a heap fun related articles, anon-world, if they were not the conditioners of human existence."

Giving Meaning To Human Conditioning

Printing Was The Mechanization of Writing

To the point made by Arendt above, Lance Strate writes: "The last point is quite striking. It is we, as human beings, who create worlds, which brings to mind the moving commentary from the Talmud: Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. We create worlds, in the sense that we give meaning to existence, we attribute meaning to phenomena, we construct symbolic as well as material environments. Each one of us, in our singular subjectivity, creates a world or our own, and therefore each one of us represents a world unto ourselves."

But these individual worlds are links, nodes in a social network, interdependent and interactive parts of an ecological whole. The term condition, in its root meaning is derived from the Latin prefix com, which means together, and dicere, which means speak. And our ability to speak together, to engage in discussion and deliberation, to enter into symbolic interaction, constitutes the means by which we collectively construct our intersubjective, social realities, our worlds. (Strate)

Finally, Strate writes: "As human beings, we are conditioned not only by our labor, the ways in which we obtain the necessities of life, i.e., air, water, food, shelter, to which Marx sought to reduce all aspects of society, a position that Arendt severely criticized. We are conditioned not only by our work, which Arendt associated with artifacts, with instrumentality and technology, with arts and crafts. We are conditioned most importantly by action,which in Arendt's view is intimately tied to speech and the symbolic, and to processes that her than things, to relationships rather than objects.

"In the end," Strate concludes, "Arendt reminds us that the human condition is itself conditional, and to be fully human requires not only that we take care of biological necessity, nor that we make life easier through technological innovation, but that we cooperate through speech and action collectively constructing a world that is truly blessed with freedom and justice."

How Media Environments Condition Man McLuhan had a new conception of what media could be when put in the hands of artists: "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. ... The wild Broncos of technological culture have yet to find their busters or masters. They have found only the P.T. Barnums." ... In saying so, McLuhan gave an idea rich in potential application to media, namely that the effect of a new staple or natural resource is essentially the same as the effect of a new medium of communication, in the sense that both function as technological extensions of our physical senses."

McLuhan spoke of the mental discipline required to transpose the realities of life int new spheres and the dislocating effects of the media. ... Study the modes of the media, in order to hoick all assumptions out of the subliminal, non-verbal realm for scrutiny and for prediction and control of human purposes. ... What sort of changes did the media of the printing press and movable type bring about. It meant the end of manuscript culture, to be sure, but the consequences were much more far-reaching than the loss of jobs for scribes and monks. Printing was the mechanization of writing.

It promoted nationalism and national languages because international Latin did not have enough scope to provide markets for the printers. Print also fostered a sense of private identity (by making copies available to individual readers in such large numbers) and imposed a level of standardization in language that had not prevailed until then, thus making "correct" spelling and grammar a measure of literacy.

Print culture intensified the effects of the older technology of writing. Before writing, mankind lived in acoustic space, the space of the spoken word, which is boundless, directionless, horizonless,and charged with emotion. Writing transformed space into something bounded, linear ordered, structured, and rational. The written page, with its edges, margins, and sharply defined letters in a row, inevitable brought in a new way of thinking about space. Media effects did not end when Gutenberg's invention transformed writing into print. Whereas print had mechanized writing, four centuries later the telegraph electrified it.

But McLuhan teaches that new media do not so much replace each other as complicate each other. It is this interaction that obscures their effects. The technology of mankind in the age of acoustic space, the technology from which writing, print and telegraph developed, was speech. Transformed into writing, speech lost the quality that made it part of the culture of acoustic space. It acquired a powerful visual bias, producing effects in social and cultural organization that endure to the present.

But there was also a lost, in that writing, separated speech from the other physical senses. The powerful extension of speech permitted by the development of radio, produced a similar loss, for this medium reduced speech to one sense-the 'aural'. Radio is not speech (because we only listen), but it creates an illusion, like writing, of containing speech.

McLuhan offered his readers a challenge to become aware of 'new environments' as they are o getting into a bath: "The inside point of view would coincide with the practical point of view of the man who would rather eat the turtle than admire the design on its back.The same man would rather dunk himself in the newspaper than have any esthetic or intellectual grasp of it s character and meaning." Stepping into a newspaper is inevitable; perceiving it as an 'environment' is indispensable to understanding its power and effect.

Technologies Extends One Or More Of Our Five Physical Senses

McLuhan in his works maintains that a technology, any medium, is something that extends one or more of our five physical senses. The book is a form of print, is a form of writing, is a visual form of the voice giving expression to ideas, which is where the chain of media working in Paris ends. Ideas don't hang around by themselves. Unless they are uttered (outered, ushered out) from our brains and into our mouths with the help of lungs and teeth and other human-body sound-production equipment,they are unknown to anyone but ourselves and unknown even to ourselves, unless we have learned their outerings through the conventional use of a language. Here we are back to media working in pairs, and technology in the McLuhan sense, and size does not matter.

In "How Images Think," Ron Burnett states: "Clearly information transmission depends on the medium in use, and in the narrow sense, "The Medium Is The Message". In all of this the issues of content and semantics seem to disappear. McLuhan's popularization of the 'medium is the message' has had a negative impact and overdetermined impact on the cultural understanding of communications technologies."

Burnett too has missed a fundamental point in McLuhan's thinking, for he never said the 'medium is the message' in the narrow sense. On the contrary, he was always stretching meanings. Content and semantics do not disappear in McLuhan's perspective, but there is a fundamental distinction to be made, in his view between the simple, uncontroversial, and unproblematic sense of content (information in the conventional sense of data and its transmission) and the sense of message as social impact of a medium.

Despite the above facts, the rest of humanity today is being led ahead by Technopoly to readily accept the swiping-away of their man made cultural custom to a new way of life, or culture as dictated and determined by Technopoly; the rest of the human race is expected to be totally enveloped by this new culture as it plays itself in front of our eyes and day to day realities, and as we go on living our real lives.

The change that we are witnessing because of the take-over of Technopoly and its transformational conditioning which is persistently galvanizing anomie and enslavement of man by and through Technique, Technology and Technopoly. Instead of us having the ability to humanize technique we are instead made the dependents and slaves of our new and fast growing technopolic-technique managed by Technopological conditioning cultural reality and the human condition.

For Instance - "Writing Is A Technology That Restructures Thought"

We are informed by Walter Ong in the following manner:

Literacy is imperious. It tends to arrogate to itself supreme power by taking itself as normative for human expression and thought.This is particularly true in high-technology cultures, which are built on literacy of necessity and which encourage the impression that literacy is an always to be expected and even natural state of affairs.The term 'illiterate' itself suggests that persons belonging to the class it designates are deviants, defined by something they lack, namely literacy.

Moreover, in high-technology cultures-which,more and more, are setting the style for cultures across the world-since literacy is regarded as so unquestionably normative and normal, the deviancy of illiterates tends to be thought of as lack of a simple mechanical skill. Illiterates should learn writing as they learned to tie their shoe-laces or to drive a car. Such views of writing as simply a mechanical skill obligatory for all human beings distort our understanding of what is human if only because they block understanding of what natural human mental processes are before writing takes possession of consciousness.

These views also by the same token block understanding of what writing itself really is. For without a deep understanding of the normal oral or oral-aural consciousness and noetic economy of humankind before writing came along, it is impossible to grasp what writing accomplished.

"Recent research work, however, in the field and in the library, is offering the opportunity to overcome our chirographic (and typo-/graphic) bias: This work has deepened our understanding of whatI have styled primary orality, the orality of cultures with no knowledge at all of writing, as contrasted with what I have styled secondary orality, the electronic orality of radio and 'television, which grows out of high-literacy cultures, depending for its invention and operation on the widespread cultivation of writing and reading.

Classical scholars, from Milman Parry-the prime mover in theorality-literacy universe-through Albert Lord, Eric Havelock, and others, sociologists and linguists such as Jack Goody, Wallace Chafe, and Deborah Tannen, cultural anthropologists such as Jeff Opland, historians such as M.T. Clanchy, and many others from even more diversified fields, including the late Marshall McLuhan, the greatest diversifier of all, have opened vistas into primary orality which enable us better to understand differences between the oral and the literate mind. My own work in opening such vistas, for whatever it is worth, began deep in Renaissance and earlier intellectual history, and has moved into the present, without, I hope, losing live contact with the past.

"We can now view in better perspective the world of writing in which we live, see better what this world really is, and what functionally literate human beings really are-that is, beings whose thought processes do not grow out of simply natural powers but out of these powers as structured, directly indirectly, by the technology of writing. Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form. Functionally literate persons, those who regularly assimilate discourse such as this, are not simply thinking and speaking human beings but chirographically thinking and speaking human beings(latterly conditioned also by print and by electronics).

"The fact that we do not commonly feel the influence of writing on our thoughts shows that we have interiorized the technology of writing so deeply that without tremendous effort we cannot separate it from ourselves or even recognize its presence and influence. If functionally literate persons are asked to think of the word 'nevertheless', they will all have present in imagination the letters of the word-vaguely perhaps, but unavoidably in handwriting or typescript or print.

If they are asked to think of the word 'nevertheless' for two minutes,120seconds, without ever allowing any letters at all to enter their imaginations, they cannot comply. A person from a completely oral background of course has no such problem. He or she will think only of the real word, a sequence of sounds, 'nevertheless'. For the real word 'nevertheless', the sounded word, cannot ever be present all at once, as written words deceptively seem to be.

"I have discussed these formulaic and narrative strategies in Orality and Literacy(1982). In 1985, John Miles Foley's newOral-Formulaic Theory and Research shows, as nothing has ever done before, how universal such strategies are across the globe and across the centuries. Foley provides summaries of over 1,800 books and articles covering 90 different language areas.Our literate world of visually processed sounds has been totally unfamiliar to most human beings, who always belonged, and often still belong to this oral world.

Homo sapiens has been around for some 30,000 years, to take a conservative figure. The oldest script,Mesopotamian cuneiform, is less than 6,000 years old (the alphabet less than 4,000). Of all the tens of thousands of languages spoken in the course of human history only a tiny fraction-Edmonson(1971: 323) calculates about 106-have ever been committed to writing to a degree sufficient to have produced a literature, and most have never been written at all. Of the 4,000 or so languages spoken today, only around 78 have a literature (Edmonson 1971:332).

"For some of the others linguists have devised more or less adequate ways of writing them, with results that appear in linguistics publications and convention papers that have no noteworthy effect at all on the actual users of the language. Dr. C. Andrew Hofling has recently completed a linguistic study of discourse in the Itza Mayan language which transcribes the language in the Roman alphabet.

This transcription is essential for linguistic studies, but it is useless, inconsequential, for the Itza Maya themselves. With only some 500 speakers, the language has no effective way of developing a literate culture. Most languages in the world today exist in comparable conditions. Those who think of the text as the paradigm of all discourse need to face the fact that only the tiniest fraction of languages have ever been written or ever will be. Most have disappeared or are fast disappearing, untouched by textuality. Hard-core textualism is snobbery, often hardly disguised.

"Only in recent centuries have human beings generally had the idea that a language could be written, and even today many peoples do not believe their language can be written. In Dayton, Ohio, on25 February 1983, I saw a videotape of a Methodist missionary and linguist who had worked out an alphabetization of a previously unwritten language in the South Pacific and witnessed her difficulty in convincing the speakers of the language that she could write down their utterances.

They believed that only the languages they knew as written, such as English or French, could be written. All this is not to deny that spoken languages are all amenable to conversion into writing (always with only partial success or accuracy) or that, given the human condition and the advantages conferred by writing, the invention of writing, and even of alphabetic writing, was sure to occur somewhere in the evolution of culture and consciousness: But to say that language is writing is, at best, uninformed. It provides egregious evidence of the unreflective chirographic and/or typographic squint that haunts us all.

"Writing was an intrusion, though an invaluable intrusion, into the early human lifeworld, much as computers are today. It has lately become fashionable in some linguistic circles to refer to Plato's condemnation of writing in the Phaedrus and the Seventh Letter.What is seldom if ever noticed, however, is that Plato's objections against writing are essentially the very same objections commonly urged today against computers by those who object to them (Ong 1982: 79-81).Writing, Plato has Socrates say in the Phaedrus, is in human, pretending to establish outside the mind what in reality can only be in the mind.

"Writing is simply a thing, something to be manipulated, something inhuman, artificial, a manufactured product. We recognize here the same complaint that is made against computers: they are artificial contrivances, foreign to human life.Secondly, Plato's Socrates complains, a written text is basically unresponsive. If you ask a person to explain his or her statement, you can get at least an attempt at explanation: if you ask a text, you get nothing except the same, often stupid words which called for your question in the first place. In the modern critique of the computer, the same objection is put, 'Garbage in, Garbage out'.

"So deeply are we into literacy that we fail commonly to recognize that this objection applies every hit as much to books as to computers. If a book states an untruth, ten thousand printed refutations will do nothing to the printed text: the untruth is there for ever. This is why books have been burnt. Texts are essentially contumacious.Thirdly, Plato's Socrates urges, writing destroys memory. Those who use writing will become forgetful, relying on an external source for what they lack in internal resources. Writing weakens the mind."

We Are Today Our Technologies; Technologies Are Us

Since writing has altered and we are our technologies-we are highly depended on them we are thus transformed and are morphing from our past state to the technological age and existence. This effect and affect is total and complete that it is worth it to reiterate Ong above:

"If you ask a person a person to explain his to explain his or her statement, you can get at least an attempt at explanation: if you ask a text; you get nothing except the same, often stupid words which called for your question in the first place. In the modern critique of the computer, the same objection is put, 'Garbage In, Garbage Out'.

"So deeply are we into literacy that we fail commonly to recognize that this objection applies every hit as much to books as to computers. If a book states an untruth, ten thousand printed refutations will do nothing to the printed text: the untruth is there forever. This is why books have been burnt. Text are essentially contumacious… Writing Weakens the Mind."

Technologies condition the mind by restructuring thought and reality. Our reality as human beings is altered by the infusion of the technological technique in our day to day functioning and existence. Our environments swirl within the orb of technology and we morph from analogue to digital environment. We change from being purely mechanical to automatic: meaning, the old ways of dealing with our reality transforms into one where we have automated and viral communication splurging into the viral stream. This is complete and total change for the users of the technologies because the old becomes obsolete and the new web data-soup our present and 'here' and 'now'.

With each new technology and technique emerging and merging with itself and hauling us along, we become dependent and conditioned to the new way of communicating within the newly created environment. In a word: We are our technologies today; Technologies are us. This maxim is true and describes the condition of the users of the new technologies aptly. Our dependency on these technologies and their techniques erodes our ability to do anything without and outside of these new merging and emergent technologies and techniques.

So that in the end, "The fact that we do not commonly feel the influence of writing on our thoughts shows that we have interiorized the technology of writing so deeply that without tremendous effort we cannot separate it from our-selves or even recognize its presence and influence."(Ong) writing as an external, alien technology, as many people today think of the computer.

Today's ballpoint pens, not to mention our typewriters and word processors or the paper we use, are high-technology products, but we seldom advert to the fact because the technology is concentrated in the factories that produce such things, rather 'than at the point of production of the text itself,' where the technology is concentrated in a manuscript culture. Although we take writing so much for granted as to forget that it is a technology, writing is in a way the most drastic of the three technologies of the word: It initiated what printing and electronics only continued, the physical reduction of dynamic sound to quiescent space, the separation of the word from the living present, where alone real, spoken words exist.


Verbal Communication

With spoken communication, team members can project emotion and intent through vocal inflections and proper use of words. According to career resource website Work911, using techniques such as open-ended questioning (i.e., asking questions that require more than a yes or no answer) can allow all parties of a conversation to give their opinions on a subject. This technique can make spoken communication among team members more effective.

Email

Email communication is a way to convey an instant message to team members, but an email should give only basic information and call for a verbal followup for more detailed data. According to Mind Tools, a poorly worded email can cause confusion. Email works best when team members use good spelling and proper grammar, and make the message clear. Email is a good way for teams to circulate meeting minutes, arrange meetings and share data, but using email for group conversation is often less effective than discussing things in person.

Body Language

According to the Small Business Management website, several aspects of body language can be effective in a group setting. How close a team is seated together can indicate whether or not the members feels cohesive. Slumping posture by some people in the group can indicate disinterest in the topic being discussed. Physically touching team members can convey a feeling of intimacy and confidence. By watching body language when interacting, team members can determine how well they are working together and if some people within the group are not comfortable with the environment.

Defining Media Ecology

Lance Strate writes:

"Media Ecology is the study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs. Media ecology is the technological determinism, hard and soft, and technological evolution. It is media logic, medium theory, mediology. It is McLuhan Studies, orality–literacy studies, American cultural studies. It is grammar and rhetoric, semiotics and systems theory, the history and the philosophy of technology. It is the postindustrial and the postmodern, and the preliterate and prehistoric"


Media ecology perspectives revolve around key texts that explore the impact of technology on culture as media environments, including the works of Harold Innis, McLuhan, Neil Postman, Walter Ong, James Carey, Lewis Mumford, Jacques Ellul, Elizabeth Eistenstein, Eric Havelock, Edmund Carpenter, Jack Goody, Denise Schmandt-Besserat, Robert K. Logan, Joshua Meyrowitz, Walter Benjamin, Daniel Boorstin, Susan Suntag, Gary Gumpert, Tony Schwartz, Regis Debray, David Altheide, Jay David Bolter, Paul Levinson and Christine Nystrom, among others.

Defining media ecology, Postman wrote: “Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people. An environment is, after all, a complex message system which imposes on human beings certain ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.”

Nystrom contextualized media ecology as a “metadiscipline” responding to “an era of change, of change unprecedented in its scope, its pace, and its potential for violent effects on the fabric of civilization.” Defining media ecology “as the study of complex communication systems as environments,” Nystrom wrote, “Media Ecologists know, generally, what it is they are interested in—the interactions of communications media, technology, technique, and processes with human feeling, thought, value, and behavior—and they know, too, the kinds of questions about those interactions they are concerned to ask.”

Lance Strate defined media ecology inclusively as “the study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs. Media ecology is the Toronto School, and the New York School. It is technological determinism, hard and soft, and technological evolution. It is media logic, medium theory, mediology. It is McLuhan Studies, orality-literacy studies, American cultural studies. It is grammar and rhetoric, semiotics and systems theory, the history and the philosophy of technology. It is the postindustrial and the postmodern, and the preliterate and prehistoric.”

It is within and outside of these expanded borders of the territories where media, technologies, consciousness, symbols and cultures collide that EME explores, seeking contributions in these topic areas, among others:

• Media effects
• Media environments
• Media cultures
• Communication history
• Orality and literacy
• Memory and mnemonics
• Writing systems and scribal cultures
• Typography and print culture
• Graphic revolution and image culture
• Audiovisual media
• Secondary orality
• Electronic media
• Information theory, Cybernetics and Systems Theory
• Information technologies and telecommunications
• Surveillance technologies
• Digital media and computer technology
• Convergence
• New Media, Participatory Media, and Social media
• Mobile technologies
• Technology and culture
• Technological society and technopoly
• General semantics and linguistic relativism
• Symbolic interaction and relational communication
• Art and perception
• Media literacy
• Media and nature
• Spiritual and religious communication
• Rhetoric, Grammar, and Dialectic
• Communication theory
• Critical/cultural studies
• Postmodernism and poststructuralism
• Global media
• Music and sound
• Urban media
• Phenomenology
• Journalism and news media
• Cyberspace and virtual reality
• Freedom of expression
• Bodies and technologies
• Politics and media
• Literature and media
• Education and media

According to Christine Nystrom"

"Media Ecology is, by now, almost a commonplace to remark that the 20 century is an era of change, of change unprecedented in its scope, its pace, and its potential for violent effects on the fabric of civilization.

  • For Kenneth Boulding, the changes which have taken place since 1900 are of such enormous significance that he marks the 20 century as the turning point in what he calls “the second great transition in the history of mankind”—that is, the transition from “civilization” to “post-civilization.” According to Boulding, the impetus for that transition is provided by a radical shift in what he calls man’s “image” of reality.
  • Thomas Kuhn refers to the same kind of radical shift as a revolution in paradigms; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin calls it a change in the noösphere; Ervin Laszlo, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and others call it simply a shift in man’s world view.
  • What each is referring to is an epochal change in the status, organization, and application of knowledge.

One of the consequences of the change to which Boulding and others refer, or, better perhaps, one of its hallmarks, is a movement away from the rigidly compartmentalized, uncoordinated specialization in scientific inquiry which characterized the Newtonian world, and a movement toward increasing integration of both the physical and the social sciences.

  • One of the symptoms of this trend is the proliferation, in recent years, of “compound” disciplines such as mathematical biochemistry, psychobiology, linguistic anthropology, psycholinguistics, and so on.
  • Another is the emergence of new fields of inquiry so broad in their scope that the word “discipline,” suggesting as it does some well-bounded area of specialization, scarcely applies to them at all. Rather, they are perspectives, moving perhaps in the direction of metadisciplines.

One such perspective, or emerging metadiscipline, is media ecology—broadly defined as the study of complex communication systems as environments.

As a perspective, metadiscipline, or even a field of inquiry, media ecology is very much in its infancy.

Media ecologists know, generally, what it is they are interested in—the interactions of communications media, technology, technique, and processes with human feeling, thought, value, and behavior—and they know, too, the kinds of questions about those interactions they are concerned to ask.

But media ecologists do not, as yet, have a coherent framework in which to organize their subject matter or their questions. Media ecology is, in short, a preparadigmatic science.

We also read from Neil Postman that Media Ecology is looking into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.

The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people. An environment is, after all, a complex message system which imposes on human beings certain ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

  • It structures what we can see and say and, therefore, do.
  • It assigns roles to us and insists on our playing them.
  • It specifies what we are permitted to do and what we are not. Sometimes, as in the case of a courtroom, or classroom, or business office, the specifications are explicit and formal.

In the case of media environments (e.g., books, radio, film, television, etc.), the specifications are more often implicit and informal, half concealed by our assumption that what we are dealing with is not an environment but merely a machine. Media ecology tries to make these specifications explicit.It tries to find out what roles media force us to play, how media structure what we are seeing, why media make us feel and act as we do.

Media ecology is the study of media as environments.

Modern Man Conditioned By Existing in the "Psycho-social Complex"

According to McLuhan, this condition became prevalent because of electricity. McLuhan said that electricity continuously transforms everything, especially the way people think, and that this confirms the power of uncertainty in the quest for knowledge. The way I see it, as the author of this Hub, I find this way of thinking to be very revolutionary.

Because of the decentralizing," integrating,' and accelerating character of the electric process, the emphasis in communication shifts from the specialist 'one thing at a time' or linear,logical sequence, to the all-at-once" simultaneous relations that occur when electronic information approaches the speed of light. Media, therefore, as contexts that translate psychological and social experience,eliminate the possibility of simple and clear meaning.

The environment, overloaded with detailed information,can be ordered meaningfully, McLuhan said, by developing enhanced pattern-recognition skills, the ability to deal with open systems, undergoing change, at electric speeds. That in the end, physical connectedness gives way to the resonant bonds and gigantic open-system pattens of electric information.

So that, up to this point, according to McLuhan, "The perception of reality now depends upon the structure of information. The form of each medium is associated with a different arrangement, or ratio, among the senses, which creates new forms of awareness. These perceptual transformations, the new ways of experiencing that each medium creates, occur in the user, regardless of the program content. This is what the Paradox. "the medium is the message" means.

So that, in order for us to fully appreciate and have a clear sense of what the whole media ecology is about, we learn McLuhan that McLuhan discovered the main effect of the electric process is to retribalize the structure of the psychic and social awareness. Millions of people sitting around the TV Tube, CNN-style. Absorbing the modern equivalent of shamanistic lore fro the authorized source is closely analogous to the old tribal relation of tyrannous instruction and control.

"The Global Village of corporate consumer values stimulates local people to retrieve who they used to be as a protection for the fading identities, for electric process makes us all nobodies desperate for identities. The quest for identity, always produces violence. The old sensibility,old values, old enmities prevail over larger-scale democratic awareness ad commitment. The profound changes to the perceptual apparatus brought about by film. Television, and the other mass media return us to conditions similar to old tribal brutalities that we retrieve the joy in the mystique of violence that governed the lives of preliterate peoples. Electricity takes us back, converts the world into a circuit of neo-tribal resonance. We are replaying the archetypes of deep human experience, the exemplary models of psychic and social reality."

McLuhan, focuses on ideas isolated from real intellectual environments, and focuses on their contextual grounds. He forces us to see how our sensory lives change in response to the media we use. Our transformed perception can lead to powerful discoveries.In fact, McLuhan explores the paradigm shift in our perceptual values in a way that can't be found elsewhere. McLuhan exposed that all communication in any medium carries rhetorical agenda. He is updating the grammarians and the rhetoricians as the deep sources of communications theory. So that, according to him "in all electric media, "The user" must learn to enter into the communication process, to become a co-producer. McLuhan observes that, 'under electric conditions, each object is not merely itself, but represents a manifold process which evades simple,logical definition, as he wrote in "UNderstanding the Media':

"The artist is the man in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of his actions and of new knowledge in his own times. He is the man of integral awareness."

We therefore learn that McLuhan stressed that environments and the inter-connectedness of things, the ecology of thought, and the pervasive, and the inescapable power of the electric process to change the present socio-political existence. so that, we get to learn that 'our world is fraught with new paradoxes scientifically produced: the certitude of the last few centuries has been pressed passed the limit of its capability and has reversed into its opposite. Uncertainty and probability and the latter's statistical approach to truth are now met by the theories of complexity and chaos.

So that, according to McLuhan, "socially and politically we find it difficult to make sense of the paradox: how can everything under the law be, for example, be both true and not true at the same time" The law", as noted by McLuhan, "is increasingly circumstantial and relative to media perceptions. "in electric we live with the paradox of Simplicio: "Only any arbitrary or haphazard notion, true of false, unverifiable by experience(Colie) McLuhan showed that paradox, like metaphor, establishes the ratios of a truth, for truth cannot be just one thing, nor can reality, under electric conditions.

In the Age of Information, meaning today, we should remember Korzybski's notion of a "world of words and a world of not words." Paradox and ambiguity must exist if the interplay between these two worlds is to be balanced humanely. The map is not the territory; the story, or the event; the image, not the thing. The form of presentation may be everything so that, according to McLuhan, he set out to discover what the medium actually does to change the mindscape of the user: "the medium is the message." That is, media affect us physically. So that, in the final analysis, in the age of the computer and other emerging technologies and techniques, we are beginning to see a pernicious tribalism that is developing worldwide as people struggle to forge their identities against the global corporate sameness.

How We Use Emerging Technologies, Media and Medium

Neil Postman: Defining a Technology, Media and Medium
Neil Postman: Defining a Technology, Media and Medium | Source

Technology Will Be Used For The Human Good

There are those who believe that technology will be of use for human use and human good, s in the following article by Bradon Bowman attests:

"The past 40 years have been witness to incredible advances in technology. Computers, once huge, vacuum tube-festooned machines that took up an entire room are now small enough to slip in a pants pocket. Information and communication speeds, once measured in days, are now almost instantaneous. This rapid rate of technological advancement, and the changes is has brought about, is something that was almost unimaginable four decades ago, even to the science fiction writers and futurists who made a living out of trying to predict what was to come. But, given the exponential growth trends of technological advancement, I wonder how technology will impact our lives in the next 40 years. Will computers be so small that they are invisible to the unaided eye? Will all electronic devices be connected to the internet, able to predict our needs and desires, doing almost all of our thinking for us?

While we are certain to see technological innovations during the next 40 years that follow the growth trends of today (i.e. flatter and smaller devices, faster processors, expansions in speed and range of Wi-Fi, etc.), I think the most important changes that technology will bring will be in addressing the critical issues facing our planet and its people. These issues are present now, albeit small enough to escape the notice of those who want to ignore the news and world events, but in four decades they will have grown into crises that threaten society in general and our existence on this planet.

For example, given our current rate of population growth and loss of arable farmland, hunger and famine will threaten to explode across the globe, potentially leading to unimaginable suffering on every continent. To address this, I believe that technology will bring advances in biotechnology, bringing increases in crop yields with drought and disease-resistant plants that are genetically tailored to balance the ecosystem in which they are planted.

I can see improvements in farming technology, with farmers receiving instantaneous data on weather and soil conditions and crop performance that allows them to streamline farm operations to boost food production, using a handheld network interface to control everything from delivery of seed and fertilizer from the location with the lowest cost to the work output of a GPS-enabled harvester being driven by an AI. All of these changes will boost production of food to levels unheard of in recorded history.

But many experts say that we have plenty of food now, enough to feed everyone on the planet. The problem isn't a lack of food; rather it's a lack of money to buy food. Poverty, a condition present in every country, will spread as the income gap between the rich and poor continues to widen. This loss of wealth will also bring a whole host of other issues: increases in crime, poor living conditions, and increases in disease.

Technology will be brought to bear on this problem, perhaps leading to a second war on poverty. Technology will build on the foundations laid by such efforts as the One Laptop per Child Association and the "Telephone Lady" project of the Grameen Bank to build Wi-Fi networks and disperse inexpensive tablets and smartphones to impoverished areas, helping to provide education, information, and business opportunities.

With a little training and help, subsistence farmers will be able to contact agricultural experts to help solve food production problems or research fair commodity prices, children can receive education in on-line classes that the local school cannot provide, and local medical clinics will have use telemedicine to provide access to medical specialists that would be impossible to reach otherwise.

And the provision of this service will create entrepreneurial opportunities for locals who are willing to learn what it takes to maintain the equipment. And the interconnectedness provided by technology can be used by aid organizations to quickly obtain more accurate information on area conditions, thereby making their aid efforts more efficient and effective.

Finally, I think we will also see advances in the use of technology for regime change. Given the effective use of smartphones, Twitter feeds, and youtube uploads for instantaneous communication and documentation during the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, I think that we will see increases and advances in the use of technology in regime change.

People who have been oppressed for too long, who have been deprived of the basic freedoms needed to have some sort of happiness will follow the example of the Arab Spring countries and will utilize technology to degrees unimagined to change their governments. I can foresee the distribution of ever smaller and more concealable smartphones among oppressed peoples, with the effect of starting dialog and communication in countries where any sort of honest and frank talk about the government is banned.

These devices will be used to document atrocities committed by dictators or military juntas, with a live feed being sent out across the internet while the incident is occurring, with a copy being stored in the cloud for later war crime prosecution. The controlling regime will fight back of course, but improvements in wireless technology coupled with people's desire to live free will win out.

People who have never had access to news outside their country will be able to learn about a wider world, learning that what they were told about other countries and peoples by the ruling regime may not have been true. All of this will work to bring down one oppressive regime after another and will bring more people into the global community that lives on-line.

So long as the rapid rate of technological advancement continues, the future probably holds things that most of us can't possibly imagine. Life may very well be so much improved that today's standard of living will seem backwards and ignorant to the people of the future. But to reach this unimagined, splendid future, we must address the problems facing us today. And technology can most certainly play a role in solving those issues."

As far as Bowman is concerned, the is a noble use for technology to promote human good and development. but Postman and others seems to have a different view of the matter and subject's topic.

A Different view of technology by the Luddites

Listen to the video below by Postman on and about Luddites
Listen to the video below by Postman on and about Luddites

The LudditesView of Education and Technology_ Unconditioned Collective

Here is Postman's view on the unconditioned Luddite by Technology:

Luddites

I think it is a fair guess to say that my role in the pages of TECHNOS is to serve as the resident Luddite. If this is so, then there are two things you need to know. The first is that I do not regard my association with Luddism as, in any way, a disgrace. As perhaps readers will know, the Luddite movement flourished in England between 1811 and 1818 as a response to the furious growth of machines and factories.

Notwithstanding the excesses of their zeal, the Luddites seemed to be the only group in England that could foresee the catastrophic effects of the factory system, especially on children. They did not want their children to be deprived of an education—indeed, of childhood itself—for the purpose of their being used to fuel the machines of industry. As William Blake put it, they did not want their children to labor in the “dark Satanic Mills.”

It is true that the Luddites busted up some textile machinery from which their unsavory reputation originates, but when did we decide to mock or despise people who try to protect their children and preserve their way of life?

The second thing you need to know is that despite the respect I have for them, I am not at all a Luddite. I have, for example, no hostility toward new technologies and certainly no wish to destroy them, especially those technologies, like computers, that have captured the imagination of educators. Of course, I am not enthusiastic about them, either.

I am indifferent to them. And the reason I am indifferent to them is that, in my view, they have nothing whatever to do with the fundamental problems we have to solve in schooling our young. If I do harbor any hostility toward these machines, it is only because they are distractions. They divert the intelligence and energy of talented people from addressing the issues we need most to confront.

Let me begin, then, to make my case by telling you about a conversation I had with an automobile salesman who was trying to get me to buy a new Honda Accord. He pointed out that the car was equipped with cruise control, for which there was an additional charge. As is my custom in thinking about the value of technology, I asked him, “What is the problem to which cruise control is the answer?”

The question startled him, but he recovered enough to say, “It is the problem of keeping your foot on the gas.” I told him I had been driving for 35 years and had never found that to be a problem. He then told me about the electric windows. “What is the problem,” I asked, “to which electric windows are the answer?” He was ready for me this time. With a confident smile, he said, “You don't have to wind the windows up and down with your arm.” I told him that this, too, had never been a problem, and that, in fact, I rather valued the exercise it gave me.

I bought the car anyway, because, as it turns out, you cannot get a Honda Accord without cruise control and electric windows—which brings up the first point I should like to mention. It is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, new technologies do not, by and large, increase people's options but do just the opposite. For all practical purposes, you cannot go to Europe anymore by boat, which I can report is a thrilling and civilized way to go. Now you have to take an airplane.

You cannot work for a newspaper unless you use a word processor, which eliminates me, since I do all of my composing with a pen and yellow pad and do not wish to change. You cannot buy records anymore; you must use CDs. I can go on with a thousand examples which demonstrate the point that new technologies drive old technologies out of business; which is to say that there is an imperialistic thrust to technology, a strong tendency to get everyone to conform to the requirements of what is new.

Now, this is not always a bad thing, although sometimes it is very bad. I bring it up to call attention to the fact that what we too easily call “progress” is always problematic. The word comes trippingly to the tongue, but when you examine what it means, you discover that technology is always a Faustian bargain. It giveth and it taketh away. And we would all be clearer about what we are getting into if there were less cheerleading about, let us say, the use of computers in the classroom and more sober analysis of what may be its costs intellectually and socially.

A second point my Honda story illuminates is that new technologies may not always solve significant problems or any problem at all. But because the technologies are there, we often invent problems to justify our using them. Or sometimes we even pretend we are solving one problem when, in fact, the reason for building and employing a new technology is altogether different. There are two expensive examples I can think of on this point.

The first concerns the construction of the superconducting supercollider in Texas. It was justified by no less a person than Stephen Hawking, who told us that the research the supercollider would permit would give us entry to the mind of God. Since Hawking is an avowed atheist, he cannot possibly believe this; but even if he were not, it is equally sure he does not believe it. Nonetheless, it was good public relations.

A Christian nation would be likely to go for it (though its Congress, after a $2 billion investment, did not), since the mysterious ways of the Lord have always been a serious problem for most of us. This is not to say that there aren't some interesting problems in cosmology that the supercollider might have solved. But since the people who would have been required to pay for this machine did not have any background or interest in these problems, it was best to talk about the mind of God.

The second example is the information superhighway that President Clinton and especially Vice President Gore are so ardently promoting. I have not yet heard a satisfactory answer to the question “What is the problem to which this $50 billion investment is the solution?” I suspect that an honest answer would be something like this: “There is no social or intellectual problem, but we can stimulate the economy by investing in new technologies.”

That is not at all a bad answer, but it is not the answer the vice president has given. He is trying to sell the idea by claiming that it solves the problem of giving more people greater access to more information faster, including providing them with 500 TV channels (or even a thousand).

Learning

This leads me directly to the question of schools and technology. In reading Lewis Perelman's book, School's Out,* and the work of those who are passionate about the educational value of new technologies, I find that their enthusiasm is almost wholly centered on the fact that these technologies will give our students greater access to more information faster, more conveniently, and in more various forms than has ever been possible.

That is their answer to the question “What is the problem to which the new technologies are the solution?” I would suggest a modification of the question by putting it this way: “What was the 19th-century problem to which these technologies are an irrelevant solution?” By putting it this way, I mean to say that the problem of getting information to people fast and in various forms was the main technological thrust of the 19th century, beginning with the invention of telegraphy and photography in the 1840s.

It would be hard not to notice that the problem was solved and is therefore no longer something that any of us needs to work at, least of all, become worked up about. If anyone argues that technology can give people access to more information outside of the classroom than could possibly be given inside the classroom, then I would say that has been the case for almost 100 years. What else is new?

(*See Lewis Perelman's article, “Hyperlearning and the New Economy,” in TECHNOS Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4.)

In other words, the information-giving function of the schools was rendered obsolete a long time ago. For some reason, more than a few technophiles (like Perelman) have just noticed this and are, in some cases, driven to favor eliminating our schools altogether. They err in this, I think, for a couple of reasons. One is that their notion of what schools are for is rather limited. Schools are not now and in fact have never been largely about getting information to children. That has been on the schools' agenda, of course, but has always been way down on the list.

One of the principal functions of school is to teach children how to behave in groups. The reason for this is that you cannot have a democratic, indeed, civilized, community life unless people have learned how to participate in a disciplined way as part of a group. School has never been about individualized learning.

It has always been about how to learn and how to behave as part of a community. And, of course, one of the ways this is done is through the communication of what is known as social values. If you will read the first chapter of Robert Fulghum's All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, you will find an elegant summary of the important business of schools. The summary includes the following: Share everything, play fair, don't hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, wash your hands before you eat, and, of course, flush.

The only thing wrong with Fulghum's book is that no one has learned all these things, along with an affection for one's country, at kindergarten's end. We have ample evidence that it takes many years of teaching these values in school before they have been accepted and internalized. Some would say that this function of schooling is the most difficult task educators must achieve. If it is not, then the function of providing the young with narratives that help them to find purpose and meaning in learning and life surely is.

By a narrative I mean a story of human history that gives meaning to the past, explains the present, and provides guidance for the future. If there is a single problem that plagues American education at the moment, it is that our children no longer believe, as they once did, in some of the powerful and exhilarating narratives that were the underpinning of the school enterprise.

I refer to such narratives as the story of our origins in which America is brought forth out of revolution, not merely as an experiment in governance but as part of God's own plan—the story of America as a moral light unto the world. Another great narrative tells of America as a melting pot where the teeming masses, from anywhere, yearning to be free, can find peace and sustenance.

Still another narrative—sometimes referred to as the Protestant Ethic—tells of how hard work is one of the pathways to a fulfilled life. There are many other such narratives on which the whole enterprise of education in this country has rested. If teachers, children, and their parents no longer believe in these narratives, then schools become houses of detention rather than attention.

Life

What I am driving at is that the great problems of education are of a social and moral nature and have nothing to do with dazzling new technologies. In fact, the new technologies so loudly trumpeted in TECHNOS and in other venues are themselves not a solution to anything, but a problem to be solved. The fact is that our children, like the rest of us, are now suffering from information glut, not information scarcity. In America there are 260,000 billboards, 17,000 newspapers, 12,000 periodicals, 27,000 video outlets for renting tapes, 400 million television sets, and well over 400 million radios, not including those in automobiles.

There are 40,000 new book titles published every year, and every day in America 41 million photographs are taken. And, just for the record (thanks to the computer), over 60 billion pieces of advertising junk mail come into our mailboxes every year. Everything from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to the silicon chip in the 20th has amplified the din of information.

From millions of sources all over the globe, through every possible channel and medium—light waves, airwaves, ticker tapes, computer banks, telephone wires, television cables, satellites, and printing presses—information pours in. Behind it in every imaginable form of storage—on paper, on video and audiotape, on disks, film, and silicon chips—is an even greater volume of information waiting to be retrieved. Information has become a form of garbage. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness. We are swamped by information, have no control over it, and don't know what to do with it.

And in the face of all of this, there are some who believe it is time to abandon schools.

Well, if anyone is wondering whether or not the schools of the future have any use, here is something for them to contemplate. The role of the school is to help students learn how to ignore and discard information so that they can achieve a sense of coherence in their lives; to help students cultivate a sense of social responsibility; to help students think critically, historically, and humanely; to help students understand the ways in which technology shapes their consciousness; to help students learn that their own needs sometimes are subordinate to the needs of the group.

I could go on for another three pages in this vein without any reference to how machinery can give students access to information. Instead, let me summarize in two ways what I mean. First, I'll cite a remark made repeatedly by my friend Alan Kay, who is sometimes called “the father of the personal computer.” Alan likes to remind us that any problems the schools cannot solve without machines, they cannot solve with them.

Second, and with this I shall come to a close: If a nuclear holocaust should occur some place in the world, it will not happen because of insufficient information; if children are starving in Somalia, it's not because of insufficient information; if crime terrorizes our cities, marriages are breaking up, mental disorders are increasing, and children are being abused, none of this happens because of a lack of information. These things happen because we lack something else. It is the “something else” that is now the business of schools.

Conditoned Existence/Learning or Modernized Man Through Technology

Understanding the relationship of Education and Technology today Is Important...
Understanding the relationship of Education and Technology today Is Important...

Is The Media Affecting/Effecting Us, or We Control the Media/Technologies?

Then, there's another way of viewing How the Human beings are being cloned by the Media" as explained by Wolfang Schirmmacher:

1. The Post-modern Condition: Cloning-in-the-world

This time humanity really did it. In more ways than one can imagine, Being became cloning in the post-modern world. But the meaning of cloning has little to do with the scientific-technological act. Dolly, the sheep from Scotland, radically changed what it means to be a human being, and in this respect is a personality of world-historical impact. The public reaction to Dolly was widespread fear. Calling it blasphemy and a fall from grace or a stupid contribution to overpopulation, are judgments based on basic perceptions about human life and our final destiny. Therefore, Dolly became a case study for the post-modern condition: we happily jumped to conclusions, and "anything goes" was not a concept but the only strategy we all had in common. To be sure, "anything goes" is not advice you give other people but is the analysis of our own theory and practice, firmly rooted in personal convictions. Such pluralism can only be misunderstood in terms of relativism or skepticism because sometimes a person will fight to the end for the chosen language game. The crucial move is choice — serious and playful alike — and, therefore, universal acceptance is out of reach: only numbers, approval rates, high ratings prove to be realistic. Most people chose to reject the idea of cloning, and laws against cloning humans were hastily discussed in the US and in Europe.

Like the passengers of the Titanic, nobody noticed that Dolly was merely the tip of the iceberg. The more imminent challenge to humanity as we know it came from a life technique which has taken over the public and also our private life. This most successful technique to shape human life has many names but just one core: It is called information technology, communication, media or internet, and its core activity is cloning humans. Cultural critics from Neil Postman to Paul Virilio have attacked the media as an invitation to be irresponsible, and much has been written about the role model function of media stars. A few philosophers took issue with our emphasis on information as the new commodity, stressing the difference between information based on facts or fiction, and messages which actually mean something to somebody. It was observed that even the Internet, the new frontier of communication, has a bias towards a status quo, the given condition of the world: its most prominent feature is e-mail, a hybrid of oral and written communication which has done little to change the writers. Yet critics and defenders alike gave credit to the mass media for being a possible tool for the betterment of humanity and a medium of global change.

For McLuhan and his followers, hardware is the real news! But since the death of Lady Di, McLuhan has had to eat his own words: the global village showed itself as an ethical world beyond the petty distinction between hardware and software. The Soul was revealed for a long day of mourning, and billions of people celebrated a cloning-of-the-world that media was able to achieve.

Lady Di, the princess of the people, did in her death for media what Dolly, the Scottish lamb, did with her birth for biogenetics. Both life techniques which made us human-only-human are first and foremost cloning techniques. What the public rejected in the case of Dolly was emphatically embraced in the case of Diana. The post-modern condition easily allowed for this split in perception and would explain it as the irony of two contradicting language games which both happen to be true. But aren't we sick and tired by now of this playful attitude, so easy to perform? The post-modern dandy has become a bore who may still be right in his criticism but is such a pain to be with. A media-generated perceptual change may bring back ethics, and it confronts us with a post-modern decision after we stopped enjoying the post- modern condition. This decision has the distinct flavor of an ethical judgment always concerned with a good life we will never know but live on our best days. Ethical worlds which let us live at home are by necessity imperceptible, and their awareness needs concealing. By cloning with media the many ways in which a human being exists, we are also protecting the virtuality of humanity, our principally undefined status, the not-yet as well as the never.

2. The Post-modern Decision: Cloning Humans

"Just gaming," was Jean-François Lyotard's ambiguous answer referring to the double meaning of "just": to take life lightly and at the same time insist on justice for the working of language games. In this respect, the post-modern decision is about becoming a player rather than a spectator in the activity of cloning humans in order to allow for a good life. When the global media merged Lady Di and Mother Theresa after death, an ultimate clone was born: Mother Di. In this clone everybody found him- or her-self reborn, an anthropological twist Arthur Schopenhauer once anticipated. At the core of Schopenhauer's ethics of compassion is a strange recognition which may happen anytime and against our will: The sudden insight in front of a suffering person, "This is you" (tat tvam asi), not only breaks down the protective barrier of my being an individual but is an ethical judgment about the condition of life. According to Schopenhauer, in suffering, not in happiness, are all living creatures one being, and all the others in a very strict sense our clones

The post-modern decision as judgment does not identify or conceptualize the acts of cloning since it continues to favor difference and to resist integration and truth. The lessons we learned from Levinas, Lyotard, Derrida or Bataille are still valid. Interruption, hesitation, postponement, violence: as post-modern preparations for a different way of acting, these have not yet lost their touch. The folding, unfolding and refolding — as Deleuze described our Being-for-the-world — will not recapture identity or Being or time as means to make our lifeworld more accessible and an easier place. Therefore, Mother Di does not function as an icon and is not a lifestyle commercial which allows instant identification. Instead, Mother Di follows the complexities of truth which Heidegger determined as "aletheia," a timeless interplay of revealing and concealing.

Like Dolly, Mother Di reveals the perceptual implications of our ethics and gives humanity a different name: Homo generator. Determined by a self-generating activity, we have to reformulate what it means to be human: mortality as well as natality are called into question again. With openness as our existential taste and co-evolutionary power as our design, Homo generator favors eternal revisions and safeguards the freedom of creation. What we clone is exactly this attitude of open generating and never a mere copy of anything (we leave that to primitive machines). Therefore, a biological copy of Mozart will never re-create the composer, and the media clone Mother Di has as many faces as people who feel themselves cloned by it.

It is worth noting that Lady Di and Mother Theresa formed their identities mainly through hardship and not by their successes. In the case of Mother Theresa, a certain contender for sainthood, it was the suffering of others which made her famous. In dedicating her life to the untouchables on the far side of the world and helping to ease an existence often worse than death, Mother Theresa served as a powerful reminder of our mortality. Lady Di was an ordinary person, a kindergarden teacher sentenced by birth to become a princess one day, who learned to wear her scars in public, and proudly. Hunted to death by paparazzi with whom she had a symbiotic relationship, Lady Di emerged as the bulimic princess scarred by a bad marriage and became the queen of the media confession scene. Without intending to do so, Lady Di impersonated the true post-modern heroine by blurring the borderlines between high and low, serious and playful, fact and fiction.

A point in favor: Clint Eastwood was her most beloved actor. Like Madonna, the notorious champion of media natality, Lady Di regenerated herself through and within media, using them skillfully. In the ultimate clone Mother Di, people experienced the fusion of mortality and natality as a celebration of self-generated wholeness. Fact and meaning together became our responsibility alone, a post-modern decision on an everyday level. Traditional hierarchies such as the British Royals or the Catholic Church were pushed aside by the global event of post-modern cloning which cancelled any other claim to these personalities. But we don't need to turn to Mother Di in order to appreciate how media clones humanity on a daily basis. Talk shows and chat rooms provide a media group therapy which lets even the weirdest people feel like everyone else: This is you — under different circumstances. Soap operas, sitcoms and cartoons have lost their distance to real life, and the members of fictional humanity become our Virtual Family. The characters of "Melrose Place" teach us more about life than our own brothers and sisters, and the finale of the sitcom "Seinfeld" resulted in a higher rating than any real-life event, including sports. Bugs Bunny was never meant to leave Toonland, but Roger Rabbit already had to; and today Bart Simpson is as real as Beavis & Butthead for kids and adults alike — just a different body outfit.

3. Concealing Humanity: Media's Secret Task

The post-modern decision of cloning humans reveals Homo generator — but it also conceals something. What is hidden from us are the ethical worlds we belong to. By cloning freely with media and designing a life-world in between natality and mortality, we pay no attention to the artificial life which always has been (and always will be) generated by humans. Concealed from our consciousness, humans live ethically, a good life behind our backs. Only in feelings, in fascination, satisfaction, joy, but also in mourning do we get a hint of ethical worlds never present, never absent. To be sure, we'll miss even these subtle hints if we try to find some reasons for feeling happy or sad: to fix the fulfilled moment is the best way to destroy it.

It is the time-honored advice of wise men to enjoy life without knowing why, to live happily without expectations and, last but not least, to act without believing in the principles of your action. We call this relaxed attitude towards life with its simple pleasures our art of living. It is a widespread practice which needs little theory and is rooted in judgment and prudence instead of smart concepts. Cloning humans with media works very well in distracting our attention from this ethical art of living, invisible to the censor and beyond good and evil. In media we simulate humanity to the point of not recognizing ourselves anymore, and this life-consuming activity helps us to stay clear of authentic humanity. All the noise and excitement, the ups and downs of cloned humanity serves just one purpose: to fulfill the secret task of media in keeping our minds occupied with the insane things while in the meantime our undisturbed life techniques generate human sanity — behind our backs but not without our active trust.

However, it would be totally wrong to assume that a God or history or the evolution of the brain is pushing for a development which benefits humanity without our participation. There is nothing like a deus ex machina making sure we come out alright at the end! Humans are alone and fully responsible for artificial life which is the only life for us. This responsibility is ethical and, therefore, never fulfilled through intentional control. Even if it cannot be helped that we clone solely openness, cloning humans with media and biogenetics is to be done in the spirit of control and needs to be concealed in order to become authentic. Isn't it surprising that all our progress has not brought humanity any farther — for all the new discoveries in science, society and culture, humans are basically unchanged: love and hate, generosity and envy, trust and distrust are still the bottom line.

What cloning does with its spectacle is to reveal our fundamental activity as Homo generator and at the same moment to conceal the way any generation makes a home in the ethical worlds of bioscaping, soul, Geviert (balance) and kairos (timing). It is the signature of truth to erase its signing right after the fact in order to allow the on-going folding, unfolding and refolding to be done in peace. So we certainly should be grateful for the cloning done by media, but we have to get more experience in perceiving our imperceptible actions of true humanity. In ethical life humanity fulfills itself, of which we are vaguely aware and which we need to forget at once. Pushing hard for this forgetting is media's strongest claim."

The video below, by Postman, is in the same vein of the article by Bowman and Wolfang, and he ably discusses and points out to many affects and effects of Technologies, Media and Medium on the lives and psyche of man.

College Lecture Series - Neil Postman - "The Surrender of Culture to Technology"

Openness: Sharing is better than stealing-Not Stolen Identy

Digital networks were built for sharing, we as users have to learn the difference between sharing and stealing, thus promoting opnennes without succumbing to selfishness
Digital networks were built for sharing, we as users have to learn the difference between sharing and stealing, thus promoting opnennes without succumbing to selfishness

Are We Progamming or Being Programmed?

Rushkoff debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: It's here; it's everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? "Choose the former," writes Rushkoff, "and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make."

Rushkoff provides cyber enthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe. In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age--and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries.

"No matter how private and individual we try to make our computers, our programs, and even our files, they all slowly but surely become part of the clout," writes Rushkoff. "Whether we simply back up a file by sending it to the server holding our email, or go so far as to create a website archive, we all eventually make use of computing resources we don't actually own ourselves. And eventually, someone or something else uses something of ours, too. Its the natural tug of the digital technology towards what may well be its most essential characteristic: 'Sharing.'

Rushkoff further adds that, "From the CPU at the heart of a computer distributing calculations to various coprocessors, to the single mainframe at a university serving hundreds of separate terminals, computer and network architecture has always been based on sharing resources and distributing the burden. This is the way digital technology works, so it should not surprise us that the technologists building computers and networks learned to work in analogous ways."

If human beings are to tap into the cosmic consciousness, we need to know that collective consciousness seems to be the modus operandi of the universal consciousness that dominates the cosmos and in intelligence in space. If we are going to be stealing from the collective pool of consciousness and hoarding it for ourselves, we are breaking the basic rule of advancing Mans' beingness and consciousness to belong to the family of collective consciousness that dominate the whole universal plain of consciousness and intelligence.

What I am saying is what Rushkoff, by saying that we must 'share', he means that we need to begin to practice disseminating the awareness that stealing and hoarding of what finds on the web and is not his/hers, should be avoided and that man should begin to share and 'give credit as to whence whatever one is sharing' emanates from or is due to. This is one of the less talked about universal principles and conundrums that governs the existence of beings and entities in the Universe.

It is then in this way we might begin to know or be aware that we are programming or being programmed in the technological society and sphere that we live, exist, interact and use today. As Rushkoff observes,

"The way to flourish in mediaspace biased nonfiction is to tell the truth. This means having a truth to tell. ... The outsourcing of our memory to machines expands the amount of data to which we have access, but degrades our brain's own ability to remember things. Yet this process of offloading our remembered information began with the invention of text, met with similar critique then. We have been consistently using our brains less as hard drives and more as processors-putting our mental resources into active RAM. ... The processes we used to use finding a doctor or friend, mapping a route, or choosing a restaurant are being replaced by machines that may, in fact, do it better. What we lose in the bargain, however, is not just the ability to remember certain facts, but to recall under certain skills."

This has cause the laziness in people to recall mundane things from memory. Where people used to memorize phone numbers, they now depend on their smartphones with the picture of the number of the person to show up. Where people use to walk erect and facing up, nowadays people walk peering into their phones, in the streets, in the train and in their cars. The behavior of people has changed and is somehow being conditioned by the gizmos they use, and the dictates of the techniques embedded within these technologies.

Thus my question or one may say, postulation, as to whether were as a people having the ability to program or we are being programmed by the new technologies, techniques embedded in these emerging/submerging machines.. That will be be answered not in the too far and distant future.

Outsourcing Our Minds And Cognition

The Outsourcing Of Our Memories To Machines

When we begun to 'outsource our memories to machines', we were in effect virally swimming in the data that keeps on expanding, and yet in the process are degrading our brain's own ability to remember things.'(Rushkoff).

Donhong Cheng (et al) inform us thusly:

"Modern science is bound up with technical infrastructure; there is no subatomic physics without supercollider installations, no astronomy without high-tech telescopes, no genetic engineering without gene sequencers, no nanotechnology without lasers, no brain research without magnetic visualization techniques, and probably none of these research activities without high-powered computers.

"Science and technology are intimately linked-up at their 'shared frontier, which is marked by the term "technoscience". The technological hold on the world is hegemonic. In technology, globalization is already achieved. There are few corners of the world without electricity, telephones. So that, in the following excerpt, I am going to focus on the Effects and affects of Google on our minds and cognition.

The following article was writen by Clive Thopson and he Titled it:

Is Google Wrecking Our Memory? Nope, it's much, much weirder than that.

The following is excerpted from Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better, out now from the Penguin Press.

Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you’ve ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument (“one-hit father of twerking pop star”—Billy Ray Cyrus!), then you’ve no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away. As even more fiendishly powerful search tools emerge—from IBM’s Jeopardy!-playing Watson to the “predictive search” of Google Now—these worries are, let’s face it, only going to grow.

So what’s going on? Each time we reach for the mouse pad when we space out on the ingredients for a Tom Collins or the capital of Arkansas, are we losing the power to retain knowledge?

The short answer is: No. Machines aren’t ruining our memory.

The longer answer: It’s much, much weirder than that!

What’s really happening is that we’ve begun to fit the machines into an age-old technique we evolved thousands of years ago—“transactive memory.” That’s the art of storing information in the people around us. We have begun to treat search engines, Evernote, and smartphones the way we’ve long treated our spouses, friends, and workmates. They’re the handy devices we use to compensate for our crappy ability to remember details.

And frankly, our brains have always been terrible at remembering details. We’re good at retaining the gist of the information we encounter. But the niggly, specific facts? Not so much. In a 1990 study, long before the Interwebs supposedly corroded our minds, the psychologist Walter Kintsch ran an experiment in which subjects read several sentences. When he tested them 40 minutes later, they could generally remember the sentences word for word. Four days later, though, they were useless at recalling the specific phrasing of the sentences—but still very good at describing the meaning of them.

The exception is when you’re obsessed with a subject. If you’re deeply into something—football, the Civil War, Pokémon—then you’re usually great at hoovering up and retaining details. When you’re an expert in a subject, you can retain new factoids on your favorite topic easily. This only works for the subjects you’re truly passionate about, though. Baseball fans can reel off stats for their favorite players, then space out on their own birthday.

So humanity has always relied on coping devices to handle the details for us. We’ve long stored knowledge in books, paper, Post-it notes.

But when it comes to quickly retrieving information on the fly, all day long, quickly? We don’t rely on documents for the details as much as you’d think. No, we rely on something much more immediate: other people.

Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner—and his colleagues Ralph Erber and Paula Raymond—first began to systematically explore “transactive memory” back in the ’80s. Wegner noticed that spouses often divide up memory tasks. The husband knows the in-laws' birthdays and where the spare light bulbs are kept; the wife knows the bank account numbers and how to program the TiVo. If you ask the husband for his bank account number, he'll shrug. If you ask the wife for her sister-in-law's birthday, she can never remember it. Together, they know a lot. Separately, less so.

Wegner suspected this division of labor takes place because we have pretty good "metamemory." We're aware of our mental strengths and limits, and we're good at intuiting the memory abilities of others. Hang around a workmate or a romantic partner long enough and you discover that while you're terrible at remembering your corporate meeting schedule, or current affairs in Europe, or how big a kilometer is relative to a mile, they're great at it. They’re passionate about subject X; you’re passionate about subject Y. So you each begin to subconsciously delegate the task of remembering that stuff to the other, treating one’s partners like a notepad or encyclopedia, and they do the reverse. In many respects, Wegner noted, people are superior to notepads and encyclopedias, because we’re much quicker to query: Just yell a fuzzily phrased question across to the next cubicle (where do we keep the thing that we use for that thing?) and you’ll get an answer in seconds. We share the work of remembering, Wegner argued, because it makes us collectively smarter.

Experiments have borne out Wegner's theory. One group of researchers studied older couples who'd been together for decades. When separated and questioned individually about the events of years ago, they'd sometimes stumble on details. But questioned together, they could retrieve them. How? They’d engage in "cross-cuing," tossing clues back and forth until they triggered each other. This is how a couple remembered a show they saw on their honeymoon 40 years previously:

F: And we went to two shows, can you remember what they were called?
M: We did. One was a musical, or were they both? I don't ... no ... one ...
F: John Hanson was in it.
M: Desert Song.
F: Desert Song, that's it, I couldn't remember what it was called, but yes, I knew John Hanson was in it.
M: Yes.

They were, in a sense, Googling each other. Other experiments have produced similar findings. In one, people were trained in a complex task—assembling an AM/FM radio—and tested a week later. Those who'd been trained in a group and tested with that same group performed far better than individuals who worked alone; together, they recalled more steps and made fewer mistakes. In 2009 researchers followed 209 undergraduates in a business course as they assembled into small groups to work on a semester-long project. The groups that scored highest on a test of their transactive memory—in other words, the groups where members most relied on each other to recall information—performed better than those who didn't use transactive memory. Transactive groups don’t just remember better: They also analyze problems more deeply, too, developing a better grasp of underlying principles.

We don't remember in isolation—and that's a good thing. "Quite simply, we seem to record as much outside our minds as within them," as Wegner has written. "Couples who are able to remember things transactively offer their constituent individuals storage for and access to a far wider array of information than they would otherwise command." These are, as Wegner describes it in a lovely phrase, "the thinking processes of the intimate dyad."

And as it turns out, this is what we’re doing with Google and Evernote and our other digital tools. We’re treating them like crazily memorious friends who are usually ready at hand. Our “intimate dyad” now includes a silicon brain.

Recently, a student of Wegner’s—the Columbia University scientist Betsy Sparrow—ran some of the first experiments that document this trend. She gave subjects sentences of random trivia (like "An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain" and "The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry over Texas in Feb. 2003.") and had them type the sentences into a computer. With some facts, the students were explicitly told the information wouldn't be saved. With others, the screen would tell them that the fact had been saved, in one of five blandly named folders, such as FACTS, ITEMS, or POINTS. When Sparrow tested the students, the people who knew the computer had saved the information were less likely to personally recall the info than the ones who were told the trivia wouldn't be saved. In other words, if we know a digital tool is going to remember a fact, we're slightly less likely to remember it ourselves.

We are, however, confident of where in the machine we can refind it. When Sparrow asked the students simply to recall whether a fact had been saved or erased, they were better at recalling the instances where a fact had been stored in a folder. As she wrote in a Science paper, "believing that one won't have access to the information in the future enhances memory for the information itself, whereas believing the information was saved externally enhances memory for the fact that the information could be accessed." Each situation strengthens a different type of memory. Another experiment found that subjects were really good at remembering the specific folder names containing the right factoid, even though the folders had extremely unremarkable names.

"Just as we learn through transactive memory who knows what in our families and offices, we are learning what the computer 'knows' and when we should attend to where we have stored information in our computer-based memories," Sparrow wrote.

You could say this is precisely what we most fear: Our mental capacity is shrinking! But as Sparrow pointed out to me when we spoke about her work, that panic is misplaced. We’ve stored a huge chunk of what we “know” in people around us for eons. But we rarely recognize this because, well, we prefer our false self-image as isolated, Cartesian brains. Novelists in particular love to rhapsodize about the glory of the solitary mind; this is natural, because their job requires them to sit in a room by themselves for years on end. But for most of the rest of us, we think and remember socially. We’re dumber and less cognitively nimble if we're not around other people—and, now, other machines.

In fact, as transactive partners, machines have several advantages over humans. For example, if you ask them a question you can wind up getting way more than you’d expected. If I’m trying to recall which part of Pakistan has experienced tons of U.S. drone strikes and I ask a colleague who follows foreign affairs, he'll tell me "Waziristan." But when I queried this online, I got the Wikipedia page on "Drone attacks in Pakistan." I wound up reading about the astonishing increase of drone attacks (from one a year to 122 a year) and some interesting reports about the surprisingly divided views of Waziristan residents. Obviously, I was procrastinating—I spent about 15 minutes idly poking around related Wikipedia articles—but I was also learning more, reinforcing my generalized, “schematic” understanding of Pakistan.

Now imagine if my colleague behaved like a search engine—if, upon being queried, he delivered a five-minute lecture on Waziristan. Odds are I'd have brusquely cut him off. "Dude. Seriously! I have to get back to work." When humans spew information at us unbidden, it's boorish. When machines do it, it’s enticing. And there are a lot of opportunities for these encounters. Though you might assume search engines are mostly used to answer questions, some research has found that up to 40 percent of all queries are acts of remembering. We're trying to refresh the details of something we've previously encountered.

If there’s a big danger in using machines for transactive memory, it’s not about making us stupider or less memorious. It’s in the inscrutability of their mechanics. Transactive memory works best when you have a sense of how your partners' minds work—where they're strong, where they're weak, where their biases lie. I can judge that for people close to me. But it's harder with digital tools, particularly search engines. They’re for-profit firms that guard their algorithms like crown jewels. And this makes them different from previous forms of transactive machine memory. A public library—or your notebook or sheaf of papers—keeps no intentional secrets about its mechanisms. A search engine keeps many. We need to develop literacy in these tools the way we teach kids how to spell and write; we need to be skeptical about search firms’ claims of being “impartial” referees of information.

What’s more, transactive memory isn’t some sort of cognitive Get Out of Jail Free card. High school students, I’m sorry to tell you: You still need to memorize tons of knowledge. That’s for reasons that are civic and cultural and practical; a society requires shared bodies of knowledge. And on an individual level, it’s still important to slowly study and deeply retain things, not least because creative thought—those breakthrough ahas—come from deep and often unconscious rumination, your brain mulling over the stuff it has onboard.

But you can stop worrying about your iPhone moving your memory outside your head. It moved out a long time ago—yet it’s still all around you.

Electricity Is Power

While the grid’s performance is adequate today, decisions made now will shape that grid over the next 20 years. The MIT report recommends a series of changes in the regulatory environment to facilitate and exploit technological innovation. Among the
While the grid’s performance is adequate today, decisions made now will shape that grid over the next 20 years. The MIT report recommends a series of changes in the regulatory environment to facilitate and exploit technological innovation. Among the | Source

Powerless Africa: The Blackened African Grid

Siddhartha Mitter wrote of the plan "all infrastructure investment should be considered a good thing unless proven otherwise -- especially in Africa, where the need is so great." Gayle Smith, director for development and democracy at the National Sec
Siddhartha Mitter wrote of the plan "all infrastructure investment should be considered a good thing unless proven otherwise -- especially in Africa, where the need is so great." Gayle Smith, director for development and democracy at the National Sec | Source

Equal Destribution Of Electricity Might Enable The Empowerment of Africa and the So-Called Third World

So, for me, I challenge the statement above as being false. Africa is lagging behind with a fully underdeveloped electrical grid. If technological power is feasible as enunciated above, I find that the analysis is weakened by the facts. The pictures above tell a whole different story. so, whilst we might wax intellectual about some basic facts, there are those realms of reality that, through picture, tell a different story. We learn from David Mayers that"

"One out of every six people on earth is African, yet the continent produces only four percent of the world's electricity. The U.S. has a population that is double the size of Nigeria's, yet generates 220 times the electricity that's generated in Nigeria.

Even in Cape Town, the picturesque seaside city that played host to the Obama speech, scheduled blackouts are routine during times when demand for power outstrips supply. In every case, a loss of power means a lost opportunity for local development. An entrepreneur can't reliably run a business without a dependable flow of electricity.

Beyond the initial government funding, Power Africa seeks to open up the African power sector to foreign investment, with a series of guarantees meant to lure outside capital into sectors that are often seen as too risky.

General Electric alone has pledged to produce 5,000MW -- half of the total 10,000MW that Power Africa aims to generate.

Power Africa is the Obama administration's first foray into large-scale development on the continent. In many countries, the program will run into well-established Chinese infrastructure projects. Obama said he welcomed the competition for development.

"I want everybody playing in Africa," he said. "The more the merrier."

In its first phase, Power Africa is set to roll out in six of Africa's 55 countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania). Most of the investment will go towards building power plants and funding smaller, off-the-grid projects in those countries. The program also calls for partnerships with Mozambique and Uganda to help those countries manage newly discovered oil and gas reserves."

That is why that I say as we are programming and being programmed, there is a vast swath of African humanity that is being de-programmed and underutilized because the basic electric grid is still a remote if impossible possibility for the whole African continent and for various reasons that this is so.

Art Mediums As Media

Media And Its Technologies Really Effect And Affect

The Technological Media to day has transformed our life-styles , languages, behavior and may other things that we are now doing because to the presence of the Media and its technologies that have become our way of life. McLuhan counsels us above that:

McLuhan had a new conception of what media could be when put in the hands of artists: "The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. ... The wild Broncos of technological culture have yet to find their busters or masters. They have found only the P.T. Barnums." ... In saying so, McLuhan gave an idea rich in potential application to media, namely that the effect of a new staple or natural resource is essentially the same as the effect of a new medium of communication, in the sense that both function as technological extensions of our physical senses."

McLuhan spoke of the mental discipline required to transpose the realities of life int new spheres and the dislocating effects of the media. ... Study the modes of the media, in order to pick all assumptions out of the subliminal, non-verbal realm for scrutiny and for prediction and control of human purposes. ...

What sort of changes did the media of the printing press and movable type bring about. It meant the end of manuscript culture, to be sure, but the consequences were much more far-reaching than the loss of jobs for scribes and monks. 'Printing was the mechanization of writing.'In our present future' as I have pointed out from Douglass Rushkoff, we are living with our technologies here and now. They are what we depend on when before we depended on out minds and recollection. Now we have ceded that function and many to our smartphones and the new merging and emerging gizmos that abound for the consumers to buy, at affordable prices.

Meaning, what Rushkoff is saying about us taking and hoarding information, well, the same people who designed these possibilities into the new technological gadgets that are sporting every month, so it now seems, what we take and use, and our giving information about ourselves is also taken and used by others. "Sharing" which one can see from using Facebook that it is a dominant feature of information dissemination and propagation.

I have been decrying the fact that how we use these technologies, is itself going to determine as to whether we use these technologies tour own ends, or we are being used and abused by the same technologies embedded in some sleekly and well designed gizmos, that in effect they are effecting and affecting us in various ways, which many of us have not yet gotten the memo. I will like to restate a point made by McLuhan above in the Hub by re-citing below:

"McLuhan in his works maintains that a technology, any medium, is something that extends one or more of our five physical senses. The book is a form of print, is a form of writing, is a visual form of the voice giving expression to ideas, which is where the chain of media working in paris ends. Ideas don't hang around by themselves. Unless they are uttered (outered, ushered out) from our brains and into our mouths with the help of lungs and teeth and other human-body sound-production equipment,they are unknown to anyone but ourselves and unknown even to ourselves, unless we have learned their outerings through the conventional use of a language. Here we are back to media working in pairs, and technology in the McLuhan sense, and size does not matter."

If we come to understand the media in McLuhan usage of the sense, we can see the extension of this thought by Rushkof":

"This is the new "now."

"Our society has reorientated itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always -on. It's not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It's more of a diminishment of anything that isn't happening right now-and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.

"It 's why the wold's leading search engine is evolving into live, customized, and predictive flow of data branded "Google Now"; why email is giving way to texting, and why Blogs are being superseded by Twitter feeds.It's why kids in school can no longer follow linear arguments; why narrative structure collapsed into reality TV; and why we can't engage in meaningful dialogue about last month's books and music, much less long-term global issues.

"It's why the world's an economy once based on long-term investment and interest-bearing currency can no longer provide capital to those who plan to put it to work for future rewards. That's why many long for a 'singularity or was 2012 apocalypse onwards, to end 'linear time' altogether and throw us into a post historic eternal Present (What I can the 'Present Future'") .. no matter the cost to human agency or civilization itself.

"If The end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-firs can be defined as presentism.

The looking forward so prevalent in the 1990s was bound to end once the new millennium began. Like some others of that era, I predicted a new focus on the moment, on real experience, and on what things are actually wrath now. ...Add real-time technologies, from the i-Phone to Twitter; a disposable consumer economy where 1-Click ordering is more important than the actual incapable of storage or sustained argument; and an economy based on spending now what one may or may not earn in a lifetime, and you can't help but become temporarily disorientated. It's akin to the onslaught of changing rules and circumstances that the 1970s futurist Alvin Toffler dubbed "future shock.

"Only, in our era, it's more of a 'present' shock['present future'-my addition]. And while this phenomenon is clearly of the "moment," it's not quite as 'in the moment' as we may have expected.

"For while many of us were correct about the way all this 'presentism' would affect investments and finance, even technology and media, we were utterly wrong about how living in the "now" would end up impacting us as a people. Our focus on the present may have liberated us from the twentieth century's dangerously compelling ideological narratives. No one-well, hardly anyone-can still be convinced that brutal means are justified by mythological ends.

"And people are less likely to believe employers' and corporations' false promises of future rewards for years of loyalty now. But it has not actually brought us into greater awareness of what is going on around us. We are not approaching some Zen state of an infinite moment. completely at one with our surroundings, connected to others, and aware of ourselves on any fundamental level.

"Rather, we tend to exist in a distracted present, where forces on the periphery are magnified and those immediately before us are ignored. Our ability to create a plan-much less follow through on it-is undermined by our need to be able to improvise our way through any number of external impacts that star to derail us at any moment. Instead of finding a stable foothold in the 'here and now,' we end up reacting to the ever-present assault of simultaneous impulses and commands"

These affect and effect us in various way, and I will soon be looking into how this happens and what happened when they effect and affect us.

What’s Everybody Watching? Google Trends Now Showing

Advertisements Are Us... We Are TheTrending Trend

Introduction to Anti-Hyper-Consumerism
(written for Sportswear International)
By Douglas Rushkoff

Writing this little piece could get me in a whole lot of trouble. See, most of my books and articles are about combating the very same marketing techniques you hope to learn by subscribing to a magazine like this one. My usual readers are the kids who buy Adbusters magazine, the activists who protest at the WTO, and parents looking for ways to bring meaning into their children's lives that don't involve a new brand of sneaker. If they even suspect me of selling you clues about how teens think and live in order for you to market fashions to them more effectively, I'm done for.

Yes, friends, there's a war going on and, as far as America's youth culture is concerned, you are the enemy.

How did we find ourselves in such a predicament? Easy. Today, there are 32 million teens in the United States, spending 100 billion dollars on themselves every year. You want this money, and they know it.

There are a lot of you out there. This makes your job tricky. With kids processing an average of 3000 discreet advertisements each day, competition for their attention is fierce. Logically, you've invested heavily in research and trend-watching in order to find out what they'll respond to. You need to determine what they think is cool today and, more importantly, what they can be made to think is cool tomorrow.

It's a process that began in the 1980's, when kids' disposable income finally surpassed their parents' and the demographic took on paramount importance in consumer sales. You began to study teens like an anthropologist would study a foreign culture -- all in the hope of eventual colonization.

You hired cool-hunters -- young, bright, culture spies who could roam freely and undetected through the clubs and schoolyards where corporations weren't welcome. They came back with snapshots of the latest, undiscovered trends. Then you incorporated these tidbits into your styles or advertisements. A cuffed leg here, an eyebrow piercing there, maybe a new breakbeat from the rave scene.

But you were fighting a losing battle. The minute a cool trend is discovered, repackaged, and sold to kids at the mall, it's no longer cool. So the kids turn to something else, and the whole process starts all over again. The better you get at coolhunting, the faster the cycle goes, and the harder it is for anyone to keep up.

Making matters worse, kids were becoming increasingly aware of this process. They knew that their own claim to a trend is challenged by its adoption into the mainstream, so they looked for ways to hide from your researchers' hunting scopes.

By the early 90's, the so-called Generation X believed they had found their defense against you: adopt a posture and lifestyle that resists the notion of cool itself. These self-proclaimed slackers followed Bart Simpson's lead, and treated every marketing message with good dose of protective irony. They refused to be intimidated into buying the latest styles of jeans or running shoes, opting instead for the ugliest clothes they could find at the local thrift shop. Grunge style, like grunge music, was a revolt against marketing itself.

It was accompanied by a new attitude towards media and advertising: detachment. Armed with a remote control and a media-savvy awareness, teens of the early 90's celebrated their newfound freedom by surfing away from your TV ads, or laughing at them, out loud, with their friends. Phrases like "whatever" and "nevermind" announced this generation's refusal to be drawn into their predecessors' pursuit of cool. They would not be moved.

Major record labels were the first to find a way to capitalize on even this trend. Grunge bands were offered contracts that even they couldn't refuse, and soon Nirvana or Pearl Jam were as likely to be on MTV as Madonna. Kurt Cobain's suicide, though actually a result of depression and drug abuse, to kids symbolized his remorse at surrendering to the corporate machine. It effectively ended the creative expression of this resistance, leaving only its hollow irony behind.

This made Generation X ripe for harvest by mass consumer brands like Sprite and Levi's, who developed commercials applauding kids for their hatred of marketing. "Image is Nothing, Thirst is Everything," Sprite's new advertisements proclaimed. They hired famous basketball players to pitch the product in TV commercials, while bags of money representing their endorsement fees accumulated at the bottom of the screen. "We know you hate marketing," these campaigns meant to say. "We're on your side."

Of course teens eventually got wise to this anti-marketing marketing campaign, as well. Sprite's own focus groups revealed that kids saw through the charade. But it was a turning point in teen's defense against media: irony no longer guaranteed protection. It didn't really matter, though. Most of you had given up on this age group, and had trained your sights on their younger brothers and sisters. And you wouldn't make the same mistakes again.

The marketing industry vowed that Generation Y would not get away as easily. They hired psychologists and sociologists to project what kinds of teens these kids were going to be -- before they were even teens! This way you could be there, waiting for them. Your ethnographers and culture gurus had determined, correctly, that what these kids wanted more than anything else was a feeling of authenticity. Everything had gotten so confusing, so marketed, so fleeting, that it was hard to feel real about anything at all.

If it's authenticity they want, it's authenticity you'll provide them. So, today, you mine the farthest reaches of teen culture for signs of genuine trends. You send researchers into their bedrooms to scour their closets, or into fledgling new scenes that have yet to discover what they're about. Better yet, look at what the poor kids are doing, or how the urban (read: African-American) kids are dressing. Their anguish is real; so, too, must be their uses of denim.

Generation Y knows that your culture scouts are far better equipped than they are to determine what's authentic. So they watch MTV and peruse the ads in Spin to find out which culture they should emulate next. The object of the game is to get in on a scene while it's still being exploited. To get onto Total Request Live or be captured by the cameras on MTV's Spring Break. After all, if there's MTV cameras around, it *must* be cool.

For as much as they resent the way you pander to their fleeting sense of what is genuinely, authentically cool, they enjoy all the attention. It's turned into a giant feedback loop: you watch kids to find out what trend is "in," but the kids are watching you watching them in order to figure out how to act. They are exhibitionists, aware of corporate America's fascination with their every move, and delighting in your obsession with their tastes. At least to a point.

The problem with being the center of attention is that it gives them nowhere to turn, themselves. When even their parents long for the adolescent sexual utopia of the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue or the idyllic and equally adult-less Dawson's Creek, kids have nothing left to aspire towards. None of them are experiencing anything close to the good times suggested by these brand-image universes. They are teenagers, for God's sake. It's a terrible, terrifying time. But they have been put at the very center of the universe. Marketers want to please them. Their parents want to *be* them. All eyes, and all cameras, are trained on the teen.

In most societies, teens tend to emulate adults. That's right: they yearn for the increased responsibilities and privileges that come with growing up. Until they grow up, they are on their parents' trip. It's not that children should be seen and not heard. But by turning the media and marketing realms into tributes to the teen revolution, you have cast everyone else as their enemies.

And by removing yourselves -- yes, you adults -- from the equation, you have denied your young customers the one thing they could really use from you: your adult creativity. Instead, you relegate kids to a prison of mirrors, and rationalize that you're simply meeting popular demand. You're not. Kids don't really know what they want. How could they? They're just kids. If anything, they want direction -- and connection with something greater than themselves.

Instead of dedicating your budgets to exacerbating this problem by drawing ever-tighter circles of teen research, have you considered spending it on designers, instead? Let your own studios and workshops become the locus of discovery, not some photographs on a trend-watching web site. Dare you lead, instead of follow?

Instead of identifying a trend and then mass-producing it before it has had a chance to mature into something of depth, why don't you develop some trends of your own? Spend your scouting money identifying new designers and then fostering their talents. If you simply *must* capture the vitality of youth, why not bring in kids as interns or apprentice designers? Let them learn from your best senior people, so that instead of re-inventing teen fashions every season, you build a legacy.

How can teens develop their own culture when each new idea is co-opted and sold back to them before it's had a chance to mature? I know your revenues depend on staying ahead of the curve, but that curve has come full circle. The very coolest thing in a world where nothing lasts is continuity itself. That's why 60's, 70's and 80's clothing revivals are happening with such disarming regularity. Kids are aching for something with more longevity than the current marketing cycle affords them. Don't adults have anything to offer them besides a mirror?

If you, the leaders of the design industry, are not in a position to create the defining trends of the 21st Century, then who is? Don't look to kids for all the answers. Look to yourselves.

Children As Target Audience

The pursuit of the Cool: Kids As Cash Cows For The Corporations

"Prophecy no longer fee likes a description of the future but, rather, a guide to the present"...

Introduction to anti-Hyper-Consumerism (Written for Sportswear International) By Douglass Rushkoff":

Writing this little piece could get me in a whole lot of trouble. See, most of my books and articles are about combating the very same marketing techniques you hope to learn by subscribing to a magazine like this one. My usual readers are the kids who buy Adbusters magazine, the activists who protest at the WTO, and parents looking for ways to bring meaning into their children's lives that don't involve a new brand of sneaker. If they even suspect me of selling you clues about how teens think and live in order for you to market fashions to them more effectively, I'm done for.

Yes, friends, there's a war going on and, as far as America's youth culture is concerned, you are the enemy.

How did we find ourselves in such a predicament? Easy. Today, there are 32 million teens in the United States, spending 100 billion dollars on themselves every year. You want this money, and they know it.

There are a lot of you out there. This makes your job tricky. With kids processing an average of 3000 discreet advertisements each day, competition for their attention is fierce. Logically, you've invested heavily in research and trend-watching in order to find out what they'll respond to. You need to determine what they think is cool today and, more importantly, what they can be made to think is cool tomorrow.

It's a process that began in the 1980's, when kids' disposable income finally surpassed their parents' and the demographic took on paramount importance in consumer sales. You began to study teens like an anthropologist would study a foreign culture -- all in the hope of eventual colonization.

You hired cool-hunters -- young, bright, culture spies who could roam freely and undetected through the clubs and schoolyards where corporations weren't welcome. They came back with snapshots of the latest, undiscovered trends. Then you incorporated these tidbits into your styles or advertisements. A cuffed leg here, an eyebrow piercing there, maybe a new breakbeat from the rave scene.

But you were fighting a losing battle. The minute a cool trend is discovered, repackaged, and sold to kids at the mall, it's no longer cool. So the kids turn to something else, and the whole process starts all over again. The better you get at coolhunting, the faster the cycle goes, and the harder it is for anyone to keep up.

Making matters worse, kids were becoming increasingly aware of this process. They knew that their own claim to a trend is challenged by its adoption into the mainstream, so they looked for ways to hide from your researchers' hunting scopes.

By the early 90's, the so-called Generation X believed they had found their defense against you: adopt a posture and lifestyle that resists the notion of cool itself. These self-proclaimed slackers followed Bart Simpson's lead, and treated every marketing message with good dose of protective irony. They refused to be intimidated into buying the latest styles of jeans or running shoes, opting instead for the ugliest clothes they could find at the local thrift shop. Grunge style, like grunge music, was a revolt against marketing itself.

It was accompanied by a new attitude towards media and advertising: detachment. Armed with a remote control and a media-savvy awareness, teens of the early 90's celebrated their newfound freedom by surfing away from your TV ads, or laughing at them, out loud, with their friends. Phrases like "whatever" and "nevermind" announced this generation's refusal to be drawn into their predecessors' pursuit of cool. They would not be moved.

Major record labels were the first to find a way to capitalize on even this trend. Grunge bands were offered contracts that even they couldn't refuse, and soon Nirvana or Pearl Jam were as likely to be on MTV as Madonna. Kurt Cobain's suicide, though actually a result of depression and drug abuse, to kids symbolized his remorse at surrendering to the corporate machine. It effectively ended the creative expression of this resistance, leaving only its hollow irony behind.

This made Generation X ripe for harvest by mass consumer brands like Sprite and Levi's, who developed commercials applauding kids for their hatred of marketing. "Image is Nothing, Thirst is Everything," Sprite's new advertisements proclaimed. They hired famous basketball players to pitch the product in TV commercials, while bags of money representing their endorsement fees accumulated at the bottom of the screen. "We know you hate marketing," these campaigns meant to say. "We're on your side."

Of course teens eventually got wise to this anti-marketing marketing campaign, as well. Sprite's own focus groups revealed that kids saw through the charade. But it was a turning point in teen's defense against media: irony no longer guaranteed protection. It didn't really matter, though. Most of you had given up on this age group, and had trained your sights on their younger brothers and sisters. And you wouldn't make the same mistakes again.

The marketing industry vowed that Generation Y would not get away as easily. They hired psychologists and sociologists to project what kinds of teens these kids were going to be -- before they were even teens! This way you could be there, waiting for them. Your ethnographers and culture gurus had determined, correctly, that what these kids wanted more than anything else was a feeling of authenticity. Everything had gotten so confusing, so marketed, so fleeting, that it was hard to feel real about anything at all.

If it's authenticity they want, it's authenticity you'll provide them. So, today, you mine the farthest reaches of teen culture for signs of genuine trends. You send researchers into their bedrooms to scour their closets, or into fledgling new scenes that have yet to discover what they're about. Better yet, look at what the poor kids are doing, or how the urban (read: African-American) kids are dressing. Their anguish is real; so, too, must be their uses of denim.

Generation Y knows that your culture scouts are far better equipped than they are to determine what's authentic. So they watch MTV and peruse the ads in Spin to find out which culture they should emulate next. The object of the game is to get in on a scene while it's still being exploited. To get onto Total Request Live or be captured by the cameras on MTV's Spring Break. After all, if there's MTV cameras around, it *must* be cool.

For as much as they resent the way you pander to their fleeting sense of what is genuinely, authentically cool, they enjoy all the attention. It's turned into a giant feedback loop: you watch kids to find out what trend is "in," but the kids are watching you watching them in order to figure out how to act. They are exhibitionists, aware of corporate America's fascination with their every move, and delighting in your obsession with their tastes. At least to a point.

The problem with being the center of attention is that it gives them nowhere to turn, themselves. When even their parents long for the adolescent sexual utopia of the Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue or the idyllic and equally adult-less Dawson's Creek, kids have nothing left to aspire towards. None of them are experiencing anything close to the good times suggested by these brand-image universes. They are teenagers, for God's sake. It's a terrible, terrifying time. But they have been put at the very center of the universe. Marketers want to please them. Their parents want to *be* them. All eyes, and all cameras, are trained on the teen.

In most societies, teens tend to emulate adults. That's right: they yearn for the increased responsibilities and privileges that come with growing up. Until they grow up, they are on their parents' trip. It's not that children should be seen and not heard. But by turning the media and marketing realms into tributes to the teen revolution, you have cast everyone else as their enemies.

And by removing yourselves -- yes, you adults -- from the equation, you have denied your young customers the one thing they could really use from you: your adult creativity. Instead, you relegate kids to a prison of mirrors, and rationalize that you're simply meeting popular demand. You're not. Kids don't really know what they want. How could they? They're just kids. If anything, they want direction -- and connection with something greater than themselves.

Instead of dedicating your budgets to exacerbating this problem by drawing ever-tighter circles of teen research, have you considered spending it on designers, instead? Let your own studios and workshops become the locus of discovery, not some photographs on a trend-watching web site. Dare you lead, instead of follow?

Instead of identifying a trend and then mass-producing it before it has had a chance to mature into something of depth, why don't you develop some trends of your own? Spend your scouting money identifying new designers and then fostering their talents. If you simply *must* capture the vitality of youth, why not bring in kids as interns or apprentice designers? Let them learn from your best senior people, so that instead of re-inventing teen fashions every season, you build a legacy.

How can teens develop their own culture when each new idea is co-opted and sold back to them before it's had a chance to mature? I know your revenues depend on staying ahead of the curve, but that curve has come full circle. The very coolest thing in a world where nothing lasts is continuity itself. That's why 60's, 70's and 80's clothing revivals are happening with such disarming regularity. Kids are aching for something with more longevity than the current marketing cycle affords them. Don't adults have anything to offer them besides a mirror?

If you, the leaders of the design industry, are not in a position to create the defining trends of the 21st Century, then who is? Don't look to kids for all the answers. Look to yourselves.

Children As Target Audience by Krayneva Veronika

1. CHILDREN AS TARGET AUDIENCE Krayneva Veronika M-06-2

2.
Main children characteristics
Children as consumers
Perspectives of Russian children marketing

3. Children Characteristics
Children have “big” sums of money
Money – means of getting satisfaction

4.
They make choice independently
Large amounts of money are spent due to the influence of children

5.
Children’s opinion plays a role when buying products
Children can introduce unfamiliar products to their parents

6.
Easy to build communication with children
Every child will become a grown-up person

7. CHILDREN AS CONSUMERS
Children usually have their own money
Children have their own scale of interests
Children are our future customers

8. Income

9. Scale of preferences
Entertaining
Food
Books and accessories
Toys
Gifts and souvenirs
Clothes
Cosmetics
Sport items
Disco clubs, cafes

10. Children are our FUTURE!

11. Russia
Parents are prepared to pay more to satisfy children’s needs
Usually the price has a very little influence on demand
Family income hardly relates to the expenses for children’s products

12.
WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHILDREN!!!
13. Thank you for your time! Made by Veronika Krayneva

The Power Of The Connected Generation

PBS FRONTLINE Merchants of Cool Documentaries Full Length

The Technologically Enhanced Memory

How will life change if we can’t forget anything?

According to a recent study, memory’s sharpness deteriorates earlier than we presumed: Forty-five is the new mental 60. Fortunately, there are practical ways to enhance mental agility: exercise, healthy diet, sufficient rest, learning new things. Increasingly, technology will play an important role in preserving cognitive function. From the sanctioned war on Alzheimer’s to widespread off-label use of Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil, one thing is clear: We’re intent on getting our memory enhancement on.

Ubiquitous information and communication technology is a major player in the memory enhancement game. I’m not alluding to products that target impairments, like the iPhone app for combating dementia. Rather, I mean commonplace software that people use to make recall less taxing, more extensive, or easier to visualize.

For instance, Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA protest made 162 million users, accustomed to turning to the site for those idle questions that crop up every day, feel absent-minded. Nobody messed with my hippocampus or your prefrontal cortex. Rather, Wikipedia’s actions were jarring because Internet use affects transactive memory, which is “the capacity to remember who knows what.” If we know information is available online, we’re inclined to remember where it can be found, rather than struggle to retain the facts. This evolutionary tendency to off-load taxing aspects of cognition into the environment—natural or built—extends beyond using devices to recall information we’re already familiar with.

This is called “extended cognition,” and it plays a crucial role in a controversial view called the “extended mind” thesis. Advocates argue that data-management technologies, from low-tech pads to high-tech computers, don’t always function as mere memory-prompting tools. Sometimes, they deserve to be understood as parts of our mind.

While controversy doesn’t surround the science of transactive memory, its implications are hotly debated. Philosopher of science Ronald Giere rejects the extended mind view to avoid conceptual and ethical problems. Others express concern about our ability to use technology responsibly. Nicholas Carr, author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, calls research into technology’s effects on transactive memory “disquieting.” In All Things Shining, renowned artificial intelligence critic Hubert Dreyfus and Harvard University’s Sean Kelly depict reliance on GPS navigation as so acidic to skill and meaning that it “flattens out human life.” Historian Edward Tenner suggests “access to electronic memory tends to give us an exaggerated view of our knowledge and skills.” Such ongoing debate signals an important cultural shift, one we’re all struggling to come to terms with.

Until recently, memory problems indicated a deficiency in personal character, a shortage of “ethics or humanity.” This outlook was a sign of the times: Informational scarcity fueled an ethos of individualism. Today, advances in technology and technique enable vast quantities of networked information to be stored and retrieved cheaply, simply, and reliably. Information abundance fuels its own ethos where interdependency and mediation take center stage. Go to a party and brag about your ability to recall contact information. Nobody will toast your commitment to swimming against the tide of memory depletion. Instead, folks will tell you and your antiquated sensibilities to get a life and a smartphone.

Transhumanists like George Dvorsky are holding out for perfect memories, or total recall: “Count me in for when perfect memory finally becomes medically possible,” he has written. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but this sounds terrible. The ability to forget allows us to forgive (“time heals all wounds”) as the pain of memories fades. It also allows us to make difficult, but important life-altering decisions. Ethicist Justin Weinberg suggests perfect recall of the pain of childbirth and the tortures of new-parent sleep deprivation could impact reproduction. More than a century ago, Nietzsche speculated that active forgetting is the key to living a life unencumbered by resentment. Today, scientists concur. Memory is seen as a creative “means for endlessly rewriting the self.”

Luckily for me (but not Dvorsky), perfect recollection isn’t close to being feasible. Drugs and surgery aren’t there yet, nor are digital means. Michigan State’s Lawrence Busch argues that data storage technology is more advanced than data-cataloging tools:

Large-scale data sets commonly stored on computers present many of the same problems as memory-enhancing technologies. First, data often are drawn from highly biased samples containing numerous errors; a few outliers may skew interpretation of the entire data set. Second, data-mining programs often don’t live up to the hype. They fail to detect subtle differences and identify the proper features of salience.

Perhaps, though, incremental advances in “key phrase search capabilities” are all it takes to dramatically enhance our recall powers.

The Generation That is Connected Through The Computer And The Internet...

The benefits of having a strong brand connection with Gen C extend far beyond just the individual: the connected generation creates network effects that would make any marketer salivate. When Gen C’ers finds content they like online, 90% of them say
The benefits of having a strong brand connection with Gen C extend far beyond just the individual: the connected generation creates network effects that would make any marketer salivate. When Gen C’ers finds content they like online, 90% of them say

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Usn4Ot1wWIM

The Exploitation And Expropriation Of The Money Of The Youth And their Parents

The spend their days sifting through reams of market research. they conduct endless surveys and focus groups. they comb the streets, the schools, and the malls, hot on the trail of the "next big thing" that will snare the attention of their prey-a market segment worth an estimated $150 billion a year. they are the me chants of cool: creators and sellers of popular culture who have made teenagers they hottest consumer demographic in America, and the World. But they are simply refuting teen desires or have they begum to manufacture those desires in a bid to secure this lucrative market? And have they gone too far in their attempts to reach the heart-and wallets-of America's youth?

The program below talks with top marketers, media executives and cultural/media critics, and explores the symbolic relationship between the media and today's teens, as each looks to the other for their identity.

Teenagers are the hottest consumer demographic in America. 33 million strong, they comprise the largest generation of tees America has ever seen-larger than the much-ballyhooed Baby Boom Generation. Last year America's teens spent $100 billion, while influencing their parents' spending to the tune of another $50 billion.

Big corporation are investing in the Web through use of commercial and trading/exchanging information. The were foresighted in recognizing the market and the purses of the youth. This has given they youth more buying power and their purchases are a billion dollar industry with the collective deep pockets of the youth to make business on. Some people wonder if this is ethical; well, the researchers point out to the fact that they need to know more concretely what the youth want, and that this will help with the selling of their products to the youth more efficiently and with constant upgrades. It seems the jury is still out on this issue.

Douglas Rushkoff, "Present Shock"

Here's To Hoping Man Humanizes Technolgy

Man is born as a freak of nature, being within nature and yet transcending it. He has to find principles of action and decision-making which replace the principles of instincts. He has to have a frame of orientation which permits him to organize a consistent picture of the world as a condition for consistent actions. He has to fight not only against the dangers of dying, starving, and being hurt, but also against another danger which is specifically human: that of becoming insane. In other words, he has to protect himself not only against the danger of losing his life but also against the danger of losing his mind.

The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology.

I will cite front he Works of Eric Fromm, et al., to elucidate the point of how we can humanize technology. Fromm writes:

"A specter is stalking in our midst whom only a few see with clarity. It is not the ghost of 'communism' or 'fascism'. It is a new specter: a completely mechanized society, devoted to maximal material output and consumption, directed by computers; and in this social process, man himself is being transformed into a part of the total machine, well-fed and entertained, yet passive, unalive, and with little feeling. With the victory of the new society, individualism and privacy will have disappeared; feeling towards others will be engineered by psychological conditioning and other devices, or drugs which also serve a new kind of introspective experience. ...

"In the Technetronic society, the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities to manipulate emotions and control reason.

"Perhaps its most ominous aspect at present is that we seem to lose control over our own system. We execute the decisions which our computer calculations make for us. We as human beings, have no aims except producing and consuming more. We will noting, nor do we not not-will anything. We are threatened with extinction by nuclear weapons and with inner deadness by the passiveness which our exclusion from responsible decision-making engenders."(Eric Fromm)...

Jacque Ellul describes with great force the new society which we are approaching and its destructive influence on man. His conclusion is not that the new society is bound to win. But he sees a possibility that the dehumanized society may not be the victor "if an increasing number of people become fully aware of the threat the technological world poses to ma's personal and spectral life, and if they determine to assert their freedom by upsetting the course of this evolution."

Lewis Mumford's position may be considered similar to that of Ellul. Mumford describes the "megamachine" starting with its first manifestation in Egyptian and Babylonian societies. But in contrast to those who, like the previously mentioned authors, recognize the specter with either sympathy or horror are the majority of men, those at the top of the establishment and the average citizen, who do not see the specter.

They have the old-fashioned belief of the 19th century that the machine will help lighten man's burden, that it will remain a means of an end, and they do not see the danger that if technology is permitted to follow it won logic, it will become a cancer-like growth, eventually threatening the structured system of individual and social life.(Mumford)

Man Centered Techne..

It is important at this time to recall what Biko had to say about our African culture being a Modern African Culture, here in Mzantsi, is that it is "Man-Centered" Society And Culture.

Biko intones:

"One of the most difficult things to do these days is to talk with authority on anything to do with African culture. Somehow, Africans are not expected to have any deep understanding of their own culture or even of themselves "Other people have a better understanding of African life.

"In my opinion, it is not necessary to talk with Africans about African culture. However, in the light of the above statements, one realizes that there is so much confusion sown, not only amongst Africans themselves, that perhaps a sincere attempt should be made at emphasizing the authentic cultural aspects of the African people themselves."

"One of the most fundamental aspects of our culture is that importance we attach to Man. Ours has always been a Man'Centered society. Westerners have in many occasions been surprised at the capacity we have fr talking to each other - not for the sake of arriving at a particular conclusion, but merely to enjoy communication for its own sake. Intimacy is a term not exclusive for particular friends, but applying to the whole group of people who find themselves together either through work or through residential requirement, [etc].

"A visitor to someone's house, with the exception of friends, is always met with the question, "What can I do for you?" This attitude to see people not as themselves but as agents for some particular function either to one's disadvantage or advantage is foreign to us.

"We are not a suspicious race. We believe in the inherent goodness of man. We enjoy man for himself. We regard our living together not as an unfortunate mishap warranting endless competition among us, but as a deliberate act of God to make us a community of brothers and sisters jointly involved in the quest for a composite answer answer to the varied problems of life.

"Hence in all, we always place ''Man First'; and hence all our action is usually joint community orientated action, rather than the individualism which the the hallmark of the capitalist approach. We always refrain from using people as stepping-stones. Instead, we are prepared to ave a much slower progress in an effort to make sure that all of us are marching to the same tune.

This then leads us to Fromm who writes:

"The present social system can be understood a great deal better if one connects the system "Man" with the whole system," writes Fromm. "Human nature is not an abstraction nor infinitely malleable and hence dynamically negligible system.. The study of the system Man permits us to see why certain factors in the socioeconomic system do to man, how disturbances in the system Man produce imbalances in the whole social system.

"By introducing the human factor into the analysis of the whole system, we are better prepared to understand its dysfunctioning of the whole social system to the optimum well-being of the people who participate in it. All this is valid, of course, only if there is agreement that maximal development of the human system in terms of its own structure-that is to say, human well-being-is the overriding goal..

"The increasing dissatisfaction with our present way of life. its passiveness and silent boredom. its lack of privacy and its depersonalization, and the longing for a joyful, meaningful existence, which answers those specific needs of man which he has developed in the last few thousand years of history and which make him different from the animal as well as the computer.

"This tendency is all the stronger because the affluent part of the population has already tasted full material satisfaction and has found out that the consumer's paradise does not deliver the happiness it promised.(The poor, of course, have not yet had a chance to find out, except by watching the lack of joy of those who "have everything a man could want).

It is interesting to note that Biko tried to tell us about this very thing, and he did this by describing the nature/function of our culture, so that, lest we forget, we should come back to his words. From how our culture functions, it will be better to really break it down. Biko writes:

"One of the most fundamental aspects of our culture is that importance we attach to Man. Ours has always been a Man'Centered society. Westerners have in many occasions been surprised at the capacity we have fr talking to each other - not for the sake of arriving at a particular conclusion, but merely to enjoy communication for its won sake. Intimacy is a term not exclusive for particular friends, but applying to the whole group of people who find themselves together either through work or through residential requirement, [etc].

"A visitor to someone's house, with the exception of friends, is always met with the question, "What can I do for you?" This attitude to see people not as themselves but as agents for some particular function either to one's disadvantage or advantage is foreign to us.

"We are not a suspicious race. We believe in the inherent goodness of man. We enjoy man for himself. We regard our living together not as an unfortunate mishap warranting endless competition among us, but as a deliberate act of God to make us a community of brothers and sisters jointly involved in the quest for a composite answer answer to the varied problems of life.

"Hence in all, we always place Man First; and hence all our action is usually joint community orientated action, rather than the individualism which the the hallmark of the capitalist approach. We always refrain from using people as stepping-stones. Instead, we are prepared to ave a much slower progress in an effort to make sure that all of us are marching to the same tune.

For whatever it is worth, What Biko said was a key to our dealing with the present-day technologies through our "Man Centered" cultures. Fromm advocates for man to be at the center of the technologies and their techniques/gizmos. Many of us may have all the accourtements of their present-day life-styles.. But with the armies of the poor just beneath one's chin, it is going to be difficult to have a happy people and Nation Some might say that the rest have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.. In reality, that is a guilt plea from those who acquired tees wealth illegally and wrongfully.

What I am saying is that we need to begin to understand that within our own African cultures,there's more that runs and jives in tandem with the present-day technologies. What Biko was saying is that we are a Modern African Culture that is Man-Centered. The emergence and usage of present-day technologies need to be made to Man, and this is the core our indigenous culture -- It is well-made and suitable to the present-day Social media. Our culture fits like a hand in glove with contemporary technologic and its techniques/gizmos.

If we begin to interrogate and explore our own African indigenous culture, we are going to find what that Man-Centeredness is all about in our culture and in the modern technology and its machines. We are still mired within the notions that we are not in a position to change the course of our Technological societies; yet, we still hold on to hope that it will at least fulfill most of our hopes. That will be the discussion of another time and topic of the hope we have invested into pour present-day technologies and the machines that enable us and them to connect or disconnect..

Our man-centered African culture is in sync with a man-centered technological technique...

Keynote: Douglas Rushkoff on When Change is Always On

Our man-centered African culture is in sync with a man-centered technological technique...

What do I mean by the reading above? I have just cited Biko above, and he gave us a reminder that our African here in Mzantsi is Man-Centered. What does that mean and have to do with Technology. well, I cited a few Media Ecologists to support my point. Now, I will like to take time and say something about African Culture. We learn from Wilson that:

"Social power is situated in that it is embedded in a broader social network or a social field. 'Social power' is generated by the 'social alignment' or "relative positioning" of individuals within the groups, and the alignment and position of groups vis-a-vis each other within large social organizations, societies, cultures, a nations and various coalitions or alliances, in order to achieve mutually desired ends.

"One of the mod important contexts to generate and exercise social power is that of 'culture'. A culture is a type of "power system" which includes all of its members and the various groups and institutions which constitute it. A society or culture as a power system may be subdivided into a number of small and smaller power systems nested within, or organically related to, one another.

"The overall power of a culture or society operationally emerges from these smaller power systems which may include familial, kinship, communal, regional, and other types of social and institutional organizations.

Culture is man's adaptive dimension. "Man alone among the forms of animated nature is the creature that has moved into an adaptive zone which is an entirely learned one. This is the zone of culture, the man-made, the learned, part of our environment (Ashley Montague).

"If societies are to survive, they must minimally satisfy certain biological, psychological and social needs of their members. they must successfully counter those forces of nature and man which threaten their well-being and their very biological survival. Culture is the social-institutional instrument which is crucial for facilitating people's adaptation to the complexities of their world. Therefore, its functional structure, cohesiveness, reliance, flexibility, responsivity to reality, evolutionary growth and development, or the relative lack thereof, to a very significant, determine the longevity and quality of life. Culture is learned and is the result of historically and conceptually created designs and patterns for living with an relating to others and the Cosmos."

If societies today are technologized, and we come to these gizmos and techniques with a full grasp and awareness of our own culture, we are then in a position to apply our cultural gig onto whatever we endeavor to undertake. If we "understand that culture is a social machine, a power grid or system. so that, as a holistic system it is composed of a number of sub-systems, power systems in their own right. It is a system of sisal relations, hierarchical in structure, where different members exercise different privileges, prerogatives and different levels of authority.

[So], the family is a primary organization, a fundamental generator or source of power where the human and non-human capital resources of its members are pooled and shared as means of achieving its goals. These goals include sexual reproduction, socialization of its children, securing a common habitation, providing protection and affectional relations amongst its members, maintaining and enhancing the social status of its members and providing for their economic well-being.

"... Thus, there is an important continuity between the nature of power, its quantity and organization within the family, and its physical and social environment including other families and institutions which together constitute a larger system such as a clan, nation or culture."

If we partly understand what Wilson is saying, and recognize all of our culture in what he is describing, then, the Media Gurus above are talking to a culture that already has such means and ways of humanizing the culture of technological media and its gizmos. If we begin to work as a collective and pool our cultural resources as an African Nation, we can at least begin to see some healing and normalcy become the mores and norms of our beleaguered society/African people. The technological society of Ellul, is what we can use in our Modern African culture. Culture is a power-grid and social machine that we can utilize to to marry our culture as is to the new and emerging theological techniques and their embedding/arresting machinery.

Image and Reality in America with Bill Moyers, The Truth About Lies - Part 1

Merging And Extending African Man-Centered Culture With A More Humanized Technological Environ, Techniques and constantly Evolving Gizmos

We learn more about the Media from Rushkoff:

Something is going on in media all its own that reflects less on the particular events being reported than it does on the nature of our cultural preoccupations and the ways in which we process them. Media is saying something in the way it finds its stories, churns them out, swallows them again, predigests them, and spits them out once again. This is more than a simple cultural bulimia. This is a complex but, on some level, effective form of mass catharsis and self observation that our society employs to monitor and then modify itself.

"Most social theorists still consider the media a dung heap of cultural waste.
They believe that the media, having nothing better to do, lee;s chewing on the same predigested matter. There's so much time to fill on so many stations and only a few real stories to tell. This is a simplistic view of media shared mostly by philosophers who grew up before television.

"They view media and even technology, for that matter, as somehow outside the realm of the natural. To them,media can only display or comment on something real. They cannot acknowledge that the media is something real itself-something that exists on its own and that might have its own needs and agendas.

"Even forward thinkers like Media philosopher Marshall McLuhan insisted in "Understanding The Media"(1964) that every media extension of Man is akin to a biological 'amputation'. This older generation of theorists even objects to the word "media" being used as a singular noun. The Media, to these people, are merely the channels through which we communicate: TV, print, bumper stickers, telegraph, telephone. We are to see this Media as a set of artificial technologies that mediate and ultimately compromise human interaction.

"But those who grew up after the development of the data sphere see the media very differently. More than a set of tools, the Media is an entity unit itself that must be reckoned with on its own terms. The initiators of media viruses depend on a very optimistic vision of how the Web of Media nodes can serve to foster new cultural growth. Rather than stunting our natural development by amputating our limbs and numbing our senses, the media can accelerate evolution."

So according to Rushkoff, there are two distinct generations in the evolving and changing media dissemination and gadgets. What I think I see from his point of view, is that, there are the analogue generation who have been taken by surprise by the new Media Virus Digital generations. In his new works, This is the generation that Rushkoff calls the "Cool" generations, which he points out that they have been exploited by the the merchants of the cool. the older analog generation, who today are the fathers and grandfathers of these children, have their measly pent ions siphoned and fleeced by the "Merchants of the Cool(or Public Relations Experts).

My thing above was to relay an important aspect of this struggle to humanize technological technique and its gizmos, by explaining and demonstrating that our African Culture has been and is still a "Man-Centered" Culture. Many experts, I have cited above, they too point out to the fact that our present day electronically Technologized Society, we can merge our culture with the contemporary Techne, and i so doing extend ourselves and our culture from the present future into a future that we can determine and at the same time control and use this Zeitgeist to our own ends, as we see fit.

Image and Reality in America with Bill Moyers, The Truth About Lies - Part 2

Towards a Technopoly Of the Masses

Furthermore, It is important to take a look at this corporate media power and how it manages its affairs, world-wide; According to McChesney:

"What has been lost in the past two generations is a brand of American Conservatism that,,whatever its limitations, was far more humane and sympathetic to liberal values, individual rights, and democracy. In the 1930s, for example, a group of American Conservatives published an alternative vision for the United States to be contrasted with the Liberal New Deal.

"This was Conservatism with a neo-Jeffersonian vision of a decentralized America, where concentrated corporate power was a threat to the individual and to communities, as were large government. How unthinkable such notions are to today's conservative leaders, who 'fawn before mammoth' and incapable of imagining the world, from the vantage point of the dispossessed.

"Corporate Media system, in conjunction with the broader trappings of a modern capitalist society, necessarily generate a depoliticized society, one where the vast majority logically put little time or interest into social or political affairs. By this reasoning, the prospects for the political left, which depend on an involved citizenry, are reduced to the point of elimination. The capitalist utopia, much celebrated by Francis Fukuyama as the "end of history," becomes the democrat's or socialist's dystopia. Some on the left, too, have accepted this "neo liberal" logic as virtually irreversible, and have written off the prospects of a cable left for the foreseeable future and beyond. In the final analysis, Presented to sun today, is the corporate media explosion and the corresponding implosion of public life, the rich media/poor democracy paradox.

The dispossessed, those living within 'poor democracies, are subjected to so many nefarious dal, which they do not even know about, between their governments and these Media and governmental corporation who control and own everything that is the product of their rich media. These so-called Third Word Democratic and economical depended poor democracies, are said to follow the kind of democracy found in the rich countries.

The world is changing rapidly and those who make decisions, in most cases, elected leaders and corporate moguls and government parastatals, and local investors, make decisions on behalf of the armies of the unemployed, and this finally benefits those within the Gravy Train-Status Quo-they want to hold on to and control the reigns of power. the expo it and apply/use the the various forms of the media to make sure that everyone accepts the privileges they have, and these should be regarded as "natural" and "immutable." It is therefore import an that those then who call themselves democrats, or democratic intellectuals, to rip the veil off this power, and to work so that social decision-making, int the Age of Technopoly, be made humanly possibly with enlightenment a very assertively egalitarianism as possible.

Noam Chomsky - Current Problems in the Study of Language and Mind

Technology Of The Oppressed: Literacy As A Means Of Raising Cosnciousness

Knowledge and awareness of being literate about the media is but one step towards being consciously literate. There are many more steps. It would seem that conscious awareness of the media environment is a prerequisite to understanding the media/communications. Paulo Freire states:

It is interesting to observe that, for the idealistic, non dialectical comprehension of the relationship between awareness and world, one can still speak of conscientizacao as an instrument for changing the world, provided this change be realize only in the interiority of awareness, with the world itself left untouched. thus, conscientizacao would produce nothing but verbiage.

From the viewpoint of a mechanistic dogmatism, there is no point in speaking of conscientizacao at all. Hence the dogmatic, authoritarian leaderships have no reason to engage in dialogue with the popular classes. They need only tell them what they should do. Mechanistically or idealistically, it is impossible to understand what occurs in the relations prevailing between oppressors and oppressed, whether as individuals or as social class."

So that the discourse above is brought forth into the Y2K era by McChesney who writes:

"Our era rests upon a massive paradox. On one hand, it is an age of dazzling breakthroughs in communication and information technologies. Communication is so intertwined ith the economy and culture that our times have been dubbed the Information Age. sitting high atop this golden web are a handful of enormous Media firms - exceeding by a factor of 10 the size of the largest media firms of fifteen years earlier - that have established global empires and generated massive riches providing news and entertainment to the peoples of the world.

The rise of the Internet has only accentuated the trend. although some research suggests that the Internet is replacing some of the time people have spent with other media, other research suggests its more important effect is simply to expand the role of media in people's lives. People are simply spending more time with media, and they don't appear to have dropped one medium to have picked up another.

Douglas Rushkoff on Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

McChesney writes:

"Behind the lustrous glow of new technologies and electronic jargon, the media system has become increasingly concentrated and conglomerate into a relative handful of corporate hands. This concentration accentuates the core tendencies of a profit-driven, advertising-supported media system: hyper commercialism and denigration of journalism and public service.

"Nor is the decline of democracy in the face of this boom in media wealth contradiction.. The media system is linked ever more loosely to the capitalist system, both through ownership and through its reliance upon advertising, a function dominated by the largest firms in the economy. Capitalism benefits from having a formally democratic system, but capitalism works best when elite make most fundamental decisions and the bulk of the population is depoliticized.

"The media/democracy paradox has two components. First, it is a poetical crisis. Meaning that it has two sense. On the one hand, the nature of our corporate commercial media system has dire implications for our politics and broader culture.On the other hand, the very issue of 'who' controls the media system and for what purposes is not a part of contemporary political debate

"Instead, there is the presupposition that a profit-seeking, commercial media system is fundamentally sound, and that most problems can be resolved for the most part through less state interference or regulation, which(theoretically) will produce the magic elixir of competition.

The second component of the media/democracy paradox concerns media ideology, in particular the flawed and self-serving manner in which corporate media officers and their supporters use history. The nature of our corporate media system and the lack of democratic debate over the nature of our media system are often defended on the following grounds: that communication markets force media firms to "give the people what they want(Just like the Present-day Public Relations professionals who are focusing on the kids, because they "want to give them what they want").

"In view of the extraordinary importance of media and communication in our society, like in looking at the subject of how the media are controlled, structured, and subsidized, this should be at the center of any democratic debate. Instead, this subject is nowhere to be found. this is not an accident; it reflects above all the economic, political, and ideological power of the media corporations and their allies. And it has made the prospect of challenging corporate media power, and of democratizing communication, all the more daunting.

We should also recall that the nature of our corporate media system and the lack of democratic debate over the nature of our media system are often emended on the following grounds: that communication markets force media firms to give the people what they want; that commercial media are the innate democratic and "American" system; that professionalism in journalism is democratic, and protects the public from nefarious influences on the news; that n new communication technologies are inherently democratic since they undermine the existing power of commercial medial; and, perhaps most important, that the First Amendment to the US Constitution authorizes that corporation and advertisers rule U.S. media without interference.

"These are generally presented as truisms, and nearly always history is invoked to provide evidence of each of these claims n combination these claims have considerable sway in the United states, even among those who are critical of the social order otherwise. It is because of the overall capacity of these myths, which are either lies or half-truths, to strip citizens of their ability to comprehend their own situation and govern their own lives that we observe are existing in 'dubious' times.

It is these times that are talked about, today, by Douglass Rushkoff in the video below.

Douglas Rushkoff - Program or Be Programmed

Technological/Media Determinism..

Technological Autonomy

Daniel Chandler wrote the following article to inform us that:

Closely associated with reification is another feature of technological determinism whereby technology is presented as autonomous (or sometimes 'semi-autonomous'): it is seen as a largely external - 'outside' of society, 'supra-social' or 'exogenous' (as opposed to 'endogenous'). Rather than as a product of society and an integral part of it, technology is presented as an independent, self-controlling, self-determining, self-generating, self-propelling, self-perpetuating and self-expanding force. It is seen as out of human control, changing under its own momentum and 'blindly' shaping society. This perspective may owe something to the apparent autonomy of mechanisms such as clockwork. But even texts are autonomous of their authors once they leave their hands: as published works they are subject to interpretation by readers, and beyond the direct control of their authors.

Isaac Asimov suggested that

      • The whole trend in technology has been to devise machines that are less and less under direct control and more and more seem to have the beginning of a will of their own. A chipped pebble is almost part of the hand it never leaves. A thrown spear declares a sort of independence the moment it is released.

The clear progression away from direct and immediate control made it possible for human beings, even in primitive times, to slide forward into extrapolation, and to picture devices still less controllable, still more independent than anything of which they had direct experience.

(Asimov 1981, p. 130)

    • The sense that technology may be out of control is also influenced by the way in which technical developments can lead to unforeseen 'side-effects'.

The most famous theorist adopting this perspective was the sociologist Jacques Ellul in his bookThe Technological Society. Ellul declared that 'Technique has become autonomous; it has fashioned an omnivorous world which obeys its own laws and which has renounced all tradition' (Ellul 1964 p. 14). He presented complex interdependent technological systems as being shaped by technology itself rather than by society.

Other adherents to the doctrine of technological autonomy have included Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Thoreau, Mark Twain, Henry Adams, John Ruskin, William Morris, George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut (Winner 1977, p. 19). Significantly, 'autonomy' is a key concept in Western liberalism: autonomous individuals are capable of directing and governing their own behaviour. But even in the context of this political ideal for the individual, autonomy is always limited by social conditions and circumstances. Indeed, the notion of an individual as 'a law unto himself' is a nightmare.

Ellul declared that 'there can be no human autonomy in the face of technical autonomy' (Ellul 1964, p. 138). He insisted that technological autonomy reduces the human being to 'a slug inserted into a slot machine' (p. 135). Critics of the notion of technological autonomy argue that technology is itself shaped by society and is subject to human control.

Neil Postman links the notion of technological autonomy closely with the notion that 'a method for doing something becomes the reason for doing it' (Postman 1979, p. 91). Referring to standardized human behaviour and to what he calls the 'invisible technology' of language as well as to machines, Postman argues that 'Technique, like any other technology, tends to function independently of the system it serves. It becomes autonomous, in the manner of a robot that no longer obeys its master' (Postman 1993, p. 142).

Elsewhere he defines 'The Frankenstein Syndrome: One creates a machine for a particular and limited purpose. But once the machine is built, we discover, always to our surprise - that it has ideas of its own; that it is quite capable not only of changing our habits but... of changing our habits of mind' (Postman 1983, p. 23). Although Postman denies that that 'the effects of technology' are always inevitable, he insists that they are 'always unpredictable' (Postman 1983, p. 24).

Technology which no-one seems to control seems to have 'a will of its own'. This stance involvesanthropomorphism or technological animism in its crediting of an inanimate entity with the consciousness and will of living beings. Technologies are seen as having 'purposes' of their own rather than purely technical functions. Sometimes the implication is that purposiveness arises in a device from the whole being greater than the sum of the parts which were humanly designed: unplanned, a 'ghost in the machine' emerges.

The notion that technological developments arise to 'fill needs' is reflected in the myth that 'necessity is the mother of invention'. It presents technology as a benevolent servant of the human species. But as Carroll Purcell puts it, 'many modern "needs" are themselves inventions, the product of an economy that stimulates consumption so that it can make and market things for a profit' (Purcell 1994, p. 40).

The notion of technology having its own purposes is widespread. Ralph Waldo Emerson (d. 1882) declared that: 'Things are in the saddle,/ And ride mankind' ('Ode, inscribed to W. H. Channing'). Marshall McLuhan asserted that 'in... any social action, the means employed discover their own goals', adding that 'new goals [are] contained in... new means' (McLuhan & Watson 1970, p. 202).

Animistic accounts are particularly applied to the complex technologies, and to reifications of technology as an interdependent 'system'. Some authors may indulge in deliberate ambiguity about animism as an evasion of commitment. But people commonly refer to particular machines or tools in their daily lives as having 'personalities'.

Technological animism was the basis for a philosophy called 'resistentialism'. Its leading figure, Pierre-Marie Ventre, declared that 'Les choses sont contre nous': Things are against us. One resistentialist commentator summarizes the Clark-Trimble experiments of 1935:

      • Clark-Trimble was not primarily a physicist, and his great discovery of the Graduated Hostility of Things was made almost accidentally. During some research into the relation between periods of the day and human bad temper, Clark-Trimble, a leading Cambridge psychologist, came to the conclusion that low human dynamics in the early morning could not sufficiently explain the apparent hostility of Things at the breakfast table - the way honey gets between the fingers, the unfoldability of newspapers, etc. In the experiments which finally confirmed him in this view, and which he demonstrated before the Royal Society in London, Clark-Trimble arranged four hundred pieces of carpet in ascending degrees of quality, from coarse matting to priceless Chinese silk. Pieces of toast and marmalade, graded, weighed and measured, were then dropped on each piece of carpet, and the marmalade-downwards incidence was statistically analyzed. The toast fell right-side-up every time on the cheap carpet, except when the cheap carpet was screened from the rest (in which case the toast didn't know that Clark-Trimble had other and better carpets), and it fell marmalade-downwards every time on the Chinese silk. Most remarkable of all, the marmalade-downwards incidence for the intermediate grades was found to vary

exactly

      • with the quality of carpet. The success of these experiments naturally switched Clark- Trimble's attention to further research on

resistentia,

      • a fact which was directly responsible for the tragic and sudden end to his career when he trod on a garden rake at the Cambridge School of Agronomy.

(Jennings 1960, p. 396)

Resistentialism was actually dreamt up by the humourist Paul Jennings in 1948, but it is one of those schools of thought which ought to exist, and which in our most technologically frustrating moments we devoutly believe to be true. For some light relief, I recommend the whole of Paul Jennings' account of this fake European philosophy, which can be found in Dwight Macdonald's book, Parodies.

It is such a philosophy which advises us not to let the photocopier know how urgent your task is, because this is a sure recipe for breakdown. Here is an anonymous but official-looking notice I once saw displayed above a photocopier:

      • WARNING! This machine is subject to breakdowns during periods of critical need. A special circuit in the machine called a 'critical detector' senses the operator's emotional state, in terms of how desperate he or she is to use the machine. The 'critical detector' then creates a malfunction proportional to the desperation of the operator. Threatening the machine with violence only aggravates the situation. Likewise, attempts to use another machine may cause it also to malfunction. They belong to the same union. Keep cool and say nice things to the machine. Nothing else seems to work. Never let any machine know you are in a hurry.

For many of us, despite its satirical dimension, that notion expresses an experiential truth: emotionally, we are all capable of technological animism.

For some more serious theorists technology (or technique) is presented as an autonomous force but not as a conscious being with 'a will of its own'. For such theorists technological autonomy may refer primarily to the ways in which a technology apparently under control for the purpose for which it is used can have unpredictable and cumulative knock-on influences on the use of and 'need' for other technologies. Such 'repercussions' are not direct and immediate consequences.

One commentator, W. E. Moore, has suggested that 'a more tenable formulation' than the complete autonomy of technology may be that technology is 'a segment of culture more subject to change than other aspects of culture, and therefore possibly of causal significance in social change', adding that 'under certain conditions this is likely to be correct' (in Potter & Sarre 1974, p. 484).

The idea of Technology as itself autonomous is sometimes criticized as 'mystification' (e.g. Benthall 1976, p. 159, re. Ellul). The assumption of technological autonomy can disempower us politically by suggesting that technology is mysterious and inexplicable. The computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum notes that 'today even the most highly placed managers represent themselves as innocent victims of a technology for which they accept no responsibility and which they do not even pretend to understand' (1976, p. 241).

A serious concern of the critics of technological determinism is that a belief in the autonomy of technology may deter those who feel helpless from intervening in technological development. The stance of technological autonomy could then be seen as something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Seymour Melman argues that 'the machine mystics - if taken seriously - leave us feeling helpless, deficient in understanding, and without a guide to how to get anything done. This is the main social function of this literature. Therein lies its thrust as a status-quo conserving body of thought' (1972, p. 60).

We are also encouraged to trust the supposedly neutral judgement of technical specialists and 'experts'. Our role as responsible forward-looking citizens is to accept, adjust and adapt without protest to the new technology as a fact of life. As Raymond Williams puts it, 'if technology is a cause, we can at best modify or seek to control its effects' (1990, p. 10). We are not free to accept or reject technological developments.

Futurologists such as Alvin Toffler declare that 'rather than lashing out, Luddite fashion, against the machine, those who genuinely wish to break the prison hold of the past could do well to hasten the... arrival of tomorrow's technologies [because] it is precisely the super-industrial society, the most advanced technological society ever, that extends the range of freedom' (Toffler 1980, cited in Robins & Webster 1989, p. 14-15). Margaret Thatcher insisted in 1982 that 'Information Technology is friendly: it offers a helping hand; it should be embraced. We should think of it more like E.T. than I.T.' (Robins & Webster 1989, p. 25). It is hardly surprising that the stance of technological autonomy is sometimes associated with fascism.

It has been suggested that 'the major issue at stake is the degree of relative autonomy of particular phenomena, whereby autonomy is confined within certain limits or structures' (O'Sullivan et al. 1983, p. 17).

Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977 part 1 v 3

Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan Debating 1968

Beginning To Understand The Media

After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding” (McLuhan 3).1 With these words on the first page of Understanding Media published in 1964, Marshall McLuhan burst onto the intellectual scene with his most influential book. At the time the Commonweal Review called the book “infuriating, brilliant, and incoherent” (Gordon, "Critical Reception" 545). More recently, Nicholas Carr wrote thatUnderstanding Media is “oracular, gnomic, and mind-bending” (1). Terrance Gordon argues that “Understanding Media occupies a central place in McLuhan’s work” but also says that the book “defies summary” (“Editor’s Introduction” xiii).

With its mosaic style Understanding Media is not an easy book to understand or to teach to students. I have been teaching Marshal McLuhan’s Understanding Media to undergraduates for 18 years.2 When teaching major theorists such as McLuhan, I prefer to expose students to the original texts rather than distillations provided by another author whenever possible. This, of course, presents some difficulties in McLuhan’s case because of his nonlinear style and the complexity of his ideas.

In this essay I will explain how I interpret McLuhan’s Understanding Media to my students. This essay is more interpretative than pedagogical. If we understand what McLuhan is saying in this book and how he is saying it, we can make these ideas understandable to undergraduates. I impose some linearity and coherence on McLuhan by identifying the following four themes that run throughout Part I of the book: media as extensions of ourselves, hot and cold media, the reversal of the overheated medium, and antidotes to the narcotic effects of media. Then my students and I explore the application of these themes in Part II of Understanding Media as McLuhan discusses how his theories apply to specific media.

Media as Extensions of Ourselves

The core of McLuhan’s theory, and the key idea to start with in explaining him, is his definition of media as extensions of ourselves. McLuhan writes: “It is the persistent theme of this book that all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed” (90) and, “Any extension, whether of skin, hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex. Some of the principle extensions, together with some of their psychic and social consequences, are studied in this book” (4). From the premise that media, or technologies (McLuhan’s approach makes “media” and “technology” more or less synonymous terms), are extensions of some physical, social, psychological, or intellectual function of humans, flows all of McLuhan’s subsequent ideas. Thus, the wheel extends our feet, the phone extends our voice, television extends our eyes and ears, the computer extends our brain, and electronic media, in general, extend our central nervous system.

In McLuhan’s theory language too is a medium or technology (although one that does not require any physical object outside of ourselves) because it is an extension, or outering, of our inner thoughts, ideas, and feelings—that is, an extension of inner consciousness. McLuhan sees the enormous implications of the development of language for humans when he writes: “It is the extension of man in speech that enables the intellect to detach itself from the vastly wider reality. Without language . . . human intelligence would have remained totally involved in the objects of its attention” (79). Thus, spoken language is the key development in the evolution of human consciousness and culture and the medium from which subsequent technological extensions have evolved.

But recent extensions via electronic technology elevate the process of technological extension to a new level of significance: “Whereas all previous technology (save speech, itself) had, in effect, extended some part of our bodies, electricity may be said to have outered the central nervous system itself, including the brain” (247). Thus, pre-electric extensions are explosions of physical scale outward, while electronic technology is an inward implosion toward shared consciousness, a change that has significant implications. McLuhan states: “Our new electric technology that extends our senses and nerves in a global embrace has large implications for the future of language” (80). This electronic extension of consciousness is one about which McLuhan himself seems conflicted, as when he writes:

Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extension of man—the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and nerves by the various media. Whether the extension of consciousness, so long sought by advertisers for specific products, will be 'a good thing' is a question that admits of a wide solution. (3-4)

Thus, it is incorrect to categorize McLuhan as either a technophile or a technophobe, as his critics often try to do. McLuhan is more interested in exploring the implications of our technological extensions than in classifying them as inherently “good” or “bad.”

At times McLuhan speaks of a movement toward a global consciousness in positive terms, as when he writes: “might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?” (61). But at other times, he expresses reservations about this development: “With the arrival of electric technology, man extended, or set outside himself, a live model of the central nervous system itself. To the degree that this is so, it is a development that suggests a desperate and suicidal autoamputation . . .” (43). Thus, one of McLuhan’s key concerns in Understanding Media is to examine and make us aware of the implications of the evolution toward the extension of collective human consciousness facilitated by electronic media.

Marshall McLuhan

Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977 part 2 v 3

Technology As Neutral Or Non-Neutral

Some critics argue against technological determinism on the grounds that technology is 'neutral' or 'value-free' (neither good or bad in itself), and that what counts is not the technology but the way in which we choose to use it. As the folk saying has it, 'poor workers blame the tools'. Technology is presented as amoral. If we choose to use technologies such as literacy or computers for repressive rather than liberatory purposes we have only ourselves to blame. The view that technology is 'ethically neutral' is sometimes referred to as an instrumental view of technology.

Although this stance is sometimes associated with critics of technological determinism, Michael Shallis notes that an (instrumental) belief in the neutrality of technology is also commonly associated with technological determinism. Shallis argues that 'accepting the proposition that... technology... [is] neutral... means accepting the technological imperative' (Shallis 1984, p. 95). Technologists usually argue that technology is neutral.

Some theorists who posit technological autonomy are also amongst the wider group of those who have insisted on the non-neutrality of technology, arguing that we cannot merely 'use' technology without also, to some extent, being influenced or 'used by' it. Jacques Ellul was one of the most prominent of such theorists. He dismissed the neutralist idea that whether technology has good or bad effects depends on how it is used and the usual kind of example, that a knife can be used to kill, cook or cure. He insists that 'technique carries with it its own effects quite apart from how it is used... No matter how it is used, it has of itself a number of positive and negative consequences. This is not just a matter of intention' (Ellul 1990, p. 35). He adds that 'technical development is neither good, bad, nor neutral' (ibid., p. 37). We become conditioned by our technological systems or environments.

The computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum notes that there can be no 'general-purpose tools' (1976, p. 37), and the philosopher Don Ihde (1979) has argued that particular tools unavoidably select, amplify and reduce aspects of experience in various ways. Abbe Mowshowitz, a computer scientist, argues that 'tools insist on being used in particular ways' (Mowshowitz 1976, p. 8). In this technical sense tools are not 'neutral' and their use may contribute to shaping our purposes.

It was in this spirit that Winston Churchill declared that 'we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us' (in Dubos 1970, p. 171), and more broadly the McLuhanite John Culkin declared that 'we shape our tools and thereafter they shape us' (in Stearn 1968, p. 60).

In a very influential book called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, the American Jerry Mander, a staunch critic of TV, dismissed what he called 'the illusion of neutral technology' (Mander 1978, p. 43), 'the absolutely erroneous assumption that technologies are "neutral", benign instruments that may be used well or badly depending upon who controls them... Many technologies determine their own use, their own effects, and even the kind of people who control them. We have not yet learned to think of technology as having ideology built into its very form' (ibid., p. 350).

Many deterministic commentators on the 'non-neutrality' of tools argue that the tools we use determine our view of the world. Abraham Maslow, the psychologist, once said that to someone who has only a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. And Neil Postman adds that 'to a man with a pencil, everything looks like a list. To a man with a camera, everything looks like an image. To a man with a computer, everything looks like data' (Postman 1993, p. 14).

I have already noted Postman's acceptance of the notion of technology as an autonomous force acting on its users. He also presents technology as non-neutral. He insists that 'the uses made of technology are largely determined by the structure of the technology itself' (p. 7). The medium itself 'contains an ideological bias' (p. 16). He argues that:

(1) because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded, different media have different intellectual and emotional biases;

(2) because of the accessibility and speed of their information, different media have different

political biases;

(3) because of their physical form, different media have different

sensory biases;

(4) because of the conditions in which we attend to them, different media have different

social biases;

(5) because of their technical and economic structure, different media have different

content biases. (Postman 1979, p. 193)

    • Postman insists that 'the printing press, the computer, and television are not therefore simply machines which convey information. They are metaphors through which we conceptualize reality in one way or another. They will classify the world for us, sequence it, frame it, enlarge it, reduce it, argue a case for what it is like. Through these media metaphors, we do not see the world as it is. We see it as our coding systems are. Such is the power of the form of information' (Postman 1979, p. 39).

Langdon Winner, a political scientist, also argues that technologies are not politically neutral in the sense that they are sometimes designed, deliberately or not, to open certain social options and to close others, and some technologies may be more compatible with some social patterns than with others (in MacKenzie & Wajcman 1985).

Not all of those noting the non-neutrality of technology also present technology as autonomous. Indeed, the non-neutrality of technology is frequently associated with an emphasis on the non-neutrality of its social usage rather than the non-neutrality of technical constraints on our purposes.

The anthropologist Brian Street insists that technology is not neutral in the sense that it is not asocial. It cannot be detached from specific social contexts: 'technology is... not a neutral "thing" that arises out of disinterested scientific inquiry... It is itself a social product that has arisen as a result of political and ideological processes and institutions and its particular form has to be explained in terms of such processes' (Street 1984, p. 65).

Whilst insisting that 'technology is a means not an end', Carroll Pursell does not regard technology as neutral (Pursell 1994, p. 219). He argues that 'the choice of means always carries consequences' which are not identical with the original purposes involved (ibid., p. 218). 'As the material manifestations of social relations, tools are concrete commitments to certain ways of doing things, and therefore certain ways of dividing power. It is a mistake to think that, like black and white marbles, the "good" and "bad" effects of technology can be sorted out and dealt with. In fact, one person's white marbles are another's black: labour saved is jobs destroyed... my loss is your gain' (ibid.). 'Technology remains a very human tool, used by some against others' (ibid., p. 219).

Pursell has also noted that there is another sense in which technologies are non-neutral, and that is in their cultural symbolism. He uses the example of the throwaway Coke bottle, which, like all technologies, reflects particular cultural values (Pursell 1994, p. 29).

Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977 part 3 v 3

Hot and Cold Media

Probably no part of McLuhan’s theory is more confusing and confounding to his critics than his discussion of hot versus cool media in chapter 2 of Understanding Media. But, we can understand this part of McLuhan’s theory if we impose some linear order on it. I teach this by providing the students my own binary chart that lays out the characteristics of each this way, with McLuhan defining “high definition” as the state of being well filled with data:

Hot Medium

  • extends single sense in high definition
  • low in audience participation
  • engenders specialization/fragmentation
  • detribalizes
  • excludes
  • uniform, mechanical
  • extends space
  • horizontally repetitive

Cool Medium

  • low definition (less data)
  • high in audience participation
  • engenders holistic patterns
  • tribalizes
  • includes
  • organic
  • collapses space
  • creates vertical associations


McLuhan provides examples of hot versus cool media as follows:

Hot Medium

  • photograph
  • radio
  • phonetic alphabet
  • print
  • lecture
  • film
  • books

Cool Medium

  • cartoon
  • telephone
  • ideographic/pictographic writing
  • speech (orality)
  • seminar, discussion
  • television
  • comics

However, we misunderstand these concepts if we try to impose too much linear order and structure on McLuhan’s definitions and examples. We have to see hot and cool media not in terms of static definitions but as dynamic concepts that are designed to get at the experience and effects of how we use media. As Paul Grosswiler points out, McLuhan’s method was dialectical, process-oriented, and open-ended, not mechanistic. Keeping that in mind, I argue there are three ideas that are essential to understanding McLuhan’s concept of hot versus cool media.

First, McLuhan was not concerned with providing consistent, linear meanings of the terms “hot” versus “cool” media. For him, it was the effect the medium had that he was trying to get at. McLuhan indicates this in chapter 2 of Understanding Media where he writes:

The new electric structuring and configuring of life more and more encounters the old lineal and fragmentary procedures and tools of analysis from the mechanical age. More and more we turn from the content of messages to study total effect. . . . Concern with effectrather than meaning is a basic change of our electric time, for effect involves the total situation, and not a singe level of information movement. (26) [all emphases in original]

Thus, McLuhan saw his ideas as intuitive probes designed to get at the experience or effect of using a particular medium, or media in general, rather than as attempts to provide scholarly definitions or understandings of media. Later in Understanding Media he makes a similar point when he writes:

Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior, especially in collective matters of media and technology, where the individual is almost inevitably unaware of their effects upon him. (318)

So we misconstrue McLuhan’s “hot” versus “cool” distinction when we try to force these terms into static definitions. Rather we should understand them as terms for getting at effects of media.

Second, since hot versus cool media are not definitions, but attempts to capture the experience or effect of a medium, whether a medium is hot or cool can depend on the society into which it is introduced and the stage of technological or social development of that society. For example, McLuhan writes:

Nevertheless, it makes all the difference whether a hot medium is used in a hot or cool culture. The hot radio medium used in cool or nonliterate cultures has a violent effect, quite unlike its effect, say in England or America, where radio is felt as entertainment. A cool or low literacy culture cannot accept hot media like movies or radio as entertainment. (30-31)

Elsewhere in the chapter on hot and cold media, McLuhan again provides a warning not to take the meanings of the terms “hot” and “cool” media too literally, but to consider the context and situation. He argues that the less developed countries of the world may be in a better position than the industrialized West to cope with the arrival of electric technology:

However, backward countries that have experienced little permeation with our own mechanical and specialist culture are much better able to confront and to understand electric technology. Not only have backward and nonindustrial cultures no specialist habits to overcome in their encounter with electromagnetism, but they have still much of their traditional oral culture that has the total, unified “field” character of our new electromagnetism. (26-27)

Therefore, a medium’s “hotness” or “coolness” is not just a function of the nature of the medium itself but also the nature of the society into which the medium is introduced.

Third, whether a medium is hot or cool can also depend on how it is used in a particular society, and that can change over time. Media interact with one another, so the introduction of a new medium can change the way older media are used. As McLuhan points out, “no medium has its meaning or existence alone, but only in constant interplay with other media” (26); and “media as extensions of our senses institute new ratios, not only among our private senses, but among themselves, when they interact among themselves. Radio changed the form of the news story as much as it altered the film image. . .” (53). In addition, television changed the way we use radio, which McLuhan notes when he writes: “One of the many effects of television on radio has been to shift radio from an entertainment medium into a kind of nervous information system” (298). So a medium’s impact on a society is not linear and static, but multi-dimensional and dynamic as that medium interacts with other media and as the society changes how it uses the medium.

Furthermore, McLuhan argues that media can “heat up” over time (which I will discuss in more detail in the next section), but, for now, consider television. Writing in the 1960s McLuhan described television as a cool medium, but one could argue that television has “heated up” since then as it has become more high definition and more ubiquitous. We do not use television today in the same way we used it in the 1950s and 1960s, when families frequently sat around the television watching one show at a time. Now we have multiple televisions and other types of screens (such as personal computers, laptops, cell phones, tablet computers) of multiple sizes in multiple locations (including on our person) that are available continuously to provide a stream of images, text, and other information that we often attend to in a fragmentary and desultory manner. Therefore the experience and effect of using electronic screen technology has heated up over time.

Thus we can see that for McLuhan the hot versus cool media distinction describes effects, not definitions. In addition, those effects can vary depending on the society’s stage of technological development, and those effects can change over time as that society changes and as that society changes how it uses that medium.


Marshall McLuhan Primer - Understanding Media

Technopoly - Neil Postman

What Neil Postman has to say about Technopoly..

Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, New York, Vintage Books, pp. 22-48.

I find it necessary, for the purpose of clarifying our present situation and indicating what dangers lie ahead, to create still another taxonomy. Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies. At the present time, each type may be found somewhere on the planet, although the first is rapidly disappearing: we must travel to exotic places to find a too-using culture. If we do, it is well to go armed with the knowledge that, until the seventeenth century, all cultures were tool-users. There was, of course, considerable variation from one culture to another in the tools that were available. Some had only spears and cooking utensils. Some had water mills and coal- and horsepower. But the main characteristic of all tool-using cultures is that their tools were largely invented to do two things: to solve specific and urgent problems of physical life, such as in the use of waterpower, windmills, and the heavy-wheeled plow; or to serve the symbolic world of art, politics, myth, ritual, and religion, as in the construction of castles and cathedrals and the development of the mechanical clock. In either case, tools did not attack (or , more precisely, were not intended to attack) the dignity and integrity of the culture into which they were introduced. With some exceptions, tools did not prevent people from believing in their traditions, in their God, in their politics, in their methods of education, or in the legitimacy of their social organization....

[A]fter one acknowledges that no taxonomy ever neatly fits the realities of a situation, and that in particular the definition of a tool-using culture lacks precision, it is still both possible and useful to distinguish a tool-using culture from a technocracy. In a technocracy, tools play a central role in the thought-world of the culture. Everything must give way, in some degree, to their development. The social and symbolic worlds become increasingly subject to the requirements of that development. Tools are not integrated into the culture; they attack the culture. The bid to become the culture. As a consequence, tradition, social mores, myth, politics, ritual, and religion have to fight for their lives....

And so two opposing world-views -- the technological and the traditional -- coexisted in uneasy tension. The technological was the stronger, of course, but the traditional was there -- still functional, still exerting influence, still too much alive to ignore. This is what we find documented not only in Mark Twain but in the poetry of Walt Whitman, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, the prose of Thoreau, the philosophy of Emerson, the novels of Hawthorne and Melville, and, most vividly of all, in Alexis de Tocqueville's monumental Democracy in America. In a word, two distinct thought-worlds were rubbing against each other in nineteenth-century America.

With the rise of Technopoly, one of those thought-worlds disappears. Technopoly eliminates alternatives to itself in precisely the way Aldous Huxley outlined in Brave New World. It does not make them illegal. It does not make them immoral. It does not even make them unpopular. It makes them invisible and therefore irrelevant. And it does so by redefining what we mean by religion, by art, by family, by politics, by history, by truth, by privacy, by intelligence, so that our definitions fit its new requirements. Technopoly, in other words, is totalitarian technocracy.

Technopoly is a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. It consists in the deificaiton of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology. This requires the development of a new kind of social order, and of necessity leads to the rapid dissolution of much that is associated with traditional beliefs.

Those who feel most comfortable in Technopoly are those who are convinced that technical progress is humanity's superhuman achievement and the instrument by which our most profound dilemmas may be solved. They also believe that information is an unmixed blessing, which through its continued and uncontrolled production and dissemination offers increased freedom, creativity, and peace of mind. The fact that information does none of these things -- but quite the opposite -- seems to change few opinions, for unwavering beliefs are an inevitable product of the structure of Technopoly. In particular, Technopoly flourishes when the defenses against information break down.

The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information. As the supply is increased, control mechanisms are strained. Additional control mechanisms are needed to cope with new information. When additional control mechanisms are themselves technical, they in turn further increase the supply of information. When the supply of information is no longer controllable, a general breakdown in psychic tranquillity and social purpose occurs. Without defenses, people have no way of finding meaning in their experiences, lose their capacity to remember, and have difficulty imagining reasonable futures.

One way of defining Technopoly, then, is to say it is what happens to society when the defenses against information glut have broken down. It is what happens when institutional life becomes inadequate to cope with too much information. It is what happens when a culture, overcome by information generated by technology, tries to employ technology itself as a means of providing clear direction and humane purpose. The effort is mostly doomed to failure. Though it is sometimes possible to use a disease as a cure for itself, this occurs only when we are fully aware of the processes by which disease is normally held in check. My purpose here is to describe the defenses that in principle are available and to suggest how they have become dysfunctional.

Neil Postman - technology is no substitute for human values

Technopoly 20/20

Because of what computers commonly do, they place an inordinate emphasis on the technical processes of communications and offer very little in the way of substance. With the exception of the electric light, there never has been a technology that better exemplifies Marshall McLuhan's aphorism "The medium is the message." The computer is almost all process. There are, for example, no "great computerers," as there are great writers, painters, or musicians. [I can't resist interjecting here: there are no great "pencilers" or "brushers" either. What is this guy thinking?] There are "great programs" and "great programmers," but their greatness lies in their ingenuity either in simulating a human function or in creating new possibilities of calculation, speed, and volume.

Of course, if J. David Bolter is right, it is possible that in the future computers will emerge as a new kind of book, expanding and enriching the tradition of writing technologies. Since printing created new forms of literature when it replaced the handwritten manuscript, it is possible that electronic writing will do the same. But for the moment, computer technology functions more as a new mode of transportation than a as new means of substantive communication. It moves information -- lots of it, fast, and mostly in calculating mode.

The computer, in fact, makes possible the fulfillment of Descartes' dream of the mathematization of the world. Computers make it easy to convert facts into statistics and to translate problems into equations. And whereas this can be useful (as when the process reveals a pattern that would otherwise go unnoticed), it is diversionary and dangerous when applied indiscriminately to human affairs. So is the computer's emphasis on speed and especially its capacity to generate and store unprecedented quantities of information.

In specialized contexts, the value of calculation, speed, and voluminous information may go uncontested. But the "message" of computer technology is comprehensive and domineering. The computer argues, to put it baldly, that the most serious problems confronting us at both personal and professional levels require technical solutions through fast access to information otherwise unavailable. I would argue that this is, on the face of it, nonsense. Our most serious problems are not technical, nor do they arise from inadequate information.

If a nuclear catastrophe occurs, it shall not be because of inadequate information. Where people are dying of starvation, it does not occur because of inadequate information. If families break up, children are mistreated, crime terrorizes a city, education is impotent, it does not happen because of inadequate information. Mathematical equations, instantaneous communication, and vast quantities of information have nothing whatever to do with any of these problems. And the computer is useless in addressing them.

We can imagine that Thamus would also have pointed out to Gutenberg, as he did to Theuth, that the new invention would create a vast population of readers who "will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction...[who will be filled] will the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom"; that reading, in other words, will compete with older forms of learning. This is yet another principle of technological change we may infer from the judgment of Thamus: new technologies compete with old ones -- for time, for attention, for money, for prestige, but mostly for dominance of their world-view. This competition is implicit once we acknowledge that the medium contains an ideological bias. And it is a fierce competition, as only ideological competitions can be. It is not merely a matter of tool against tool -- the alphabet attacking ideographic writing, the printing press attacking the illuminated manuscript, the photograph attacking the art of painting, television attacking the printed word. When media make war against each other, it is a case of world-views in collision.

In the United States, we can see such collisions everywhere -- in politics, in religion, in commerce -- but we see them most clearly in the schools, where two great technologies confront each other in uncompromising aspect for the control of students' minds. On the one hand, there is the world of the printed word with its emphasis on logic, sequence, history, exposition, objectivity, detachment, and discipline. On the other there is the world of television with its emphasis on imagery, narrative, presentness, simultaneity, intimacy, immediate gratification, and quick emotional response. Children come to school having been deeply conditioned by the biases of television. There, they encounter the world of the printed word. A sort of psychic battle takes place, and there are many casualties -- children who can't learn to read or won't, children who cannot organize their thought into logical structure even in a simple paragraph, children who cannot attend to lectures or oral explanations for more than a few minutes at a time. They are failures, but not because they are stupid. They are failures because there is a media war going on, and they are on the wrong side -- at least for the moment. Who knows what schools will be like twenty-five years from now? Or fifty? In time, the type of student who is currently a failure may be considered a success. They type who is now successful may be regarded as a handicapped learner -- slow to respond, far too detached, lacking in emotion, inadequate in creating mental pictures of reality. Consider: what Thamus called the "conceit of wisdom" -- the unreal knowledge acquired through the written word -- eventually became the pre-eminent form of knowledge valued by the schools. There is no reason to suppose that such a form of knowledge must always remain so highly valued.

To take another example: In introducing the personal computer to the classroom, we shall be breaking a four-hundred year-old truce between the gregariousness and openness fostered by orality and the introspection and isolation fostered by the printed word. Orality stresses group learning, cooperation, and a sense of social responsibility.... Print stresses individualized learning, competition, and personal autonomy. Over four centuries, teachers, while emphasizing print, have allowed orality its place in the classroom, and have therefore achieved a kind of pedagogical peace between these two forms of learning, so that what is valuable in each can be maximized. Now comes the computer, carrying anew the banner of private learning and individual problem-solving. Will the widespread use of computers in the classroom defeat once and for all the claims of communal speech? Will the computer raise egocentrism to the status of a virtue?

These are the kinds of questions that technological change brings to mind when one grasps ... that technological competition ignites total war, which means it is not possible to contain the effects of a new technology to a limited sphere of human activity....

What we need to consider about the computer has nothing to do with its efficiency as a teaching tool. We need to know in what ways it is altering our conception of learning, and how, in conjunction with television, it undermines the old idea of school.

McLuhans Wake, by Kevin McMahon (2002) - The 4 Laws of Media and Marshal McLuhan

Ceding Control And Navigation To Gizmos

Is Electronic Media Changing social Behavior?

Joshua Meyrowitz puts forward a technologically determinist model of communication with claims that new media influence social behavior. He discusses ‘the impact of electronic media on social situations’ (Meyrowitz, 1985: 93) and puts forward the argument that 'electronic media tend to merge personal and public spheres' (Meyrowitz, 1985: 107) and as a result blur the dividing line between private and public behaviours. As new communication technologies become available, new questions are posed as to their effect on social behaviour.

In this assignment I will look at existing studies by concentrating on two media: the World Wide Web and its use by people to construct an online identity and mobile phones and their impact on public situations. In a bid to discover whether social behavior is affected and to what extent, I will look from a socially determinist angle at how people use media and their purposes and from a technologically determinist perspective at the affordances and constraints offered by particular media.

The World Wide Web is a medium of communication that allows information to be

transmitted on a global scale. Its increasing accessibility has allowed it to gain a pivotal role in many people’s lives and serves a number of functions. An example of the increasing provision of internet tools can be seen in the services offered by ISP’s (internet service providers) when internet users sign up to broadband or dial-up internet. Many ISP’s offer free web hosting in addition to connection services and an opportunity to create an online identity through construction of a personal web page.

Chandler identifies that personal home pages can play a significant role in allowing users to consider the way they wish to be represented. Chandler comments:

Creating pages offers an unrivalled opportunity for self-presentation… such a virtual environment offers a unique context in which one may experiment with shaping one's own public identity. (Chandler, 1997)

The ‘virtual environment’ that Chandler discusses suggests a certain degree of anonymity perhaps because the author is detached from their audience.

In her book Life on the Screen, Turkle also describes the different purposes that authors create a home page to achieve. She suggests that the author’s online identity mirrors their real life identity but the fact that this is a representation must be taken into consideration. She mentions the possibilities of ‘self discovery’ and ‘self transformation’ (Turkle, 1997: 260) as well as the idea of ‘escapism’ through a constructed identity which emphasizes aspects which the author prefers about themselves.

Private behavior is generally associated with the individual as opposed to public behavior which is linked with group activity. Therefore, it is not illogical that the internet be considered a public medium as it may be employed by users as both a tool to experiment with their identity and a platform to identify themselves as part of a group with a certain degree of anonymity.

This is an obvious blurring of private and public behavior as we can see that the medium offers the user anonymity (a private concept) yet a sense of belonging to particular groups (a public concept). Wallace suggests that the medium may in fact encourage ‘group polarization’ (Wallace, 2001: 79) usually seen in public behavior due to the fact that geography is not a restricting factor and finding others with similar interests is made easier.

The opportunity is provided to publish the authors’ inner thoughts and opinions to a global audience. This is ironic when you consider the traditional definition of a diary. Despite this, a majority of online diary users feel confident in publicly presenting their diary because in the most part, they are separated from their audience either geographically or anonymously.

Google obviously believes there is a potential market in providing online diaries as the article extract below demonstrates.

Google, the world's most-used internet search engine, yesterday announced the acquisition of Blogger, a web service which has fueled the rapid rise of the web journals popularly known as weblogs. The sale is being seen by many in the online community as a sign weblogs have become a mainstream medium. (The Guardian, 2003)

I would propose our definition of a diary is changing. Many of the diary sites allow readers to send feedback or comment on inserts by the author. This would suggest that what was once considered by many a solitary medium has evolved into a sophisticated two-way communication model encouraging comment and feedback. The actual terminology we use is also changing. Online diaries are now commonly becoming known as ‘blogs’ – another sign that supports the evolution of the diary.

Accessibility and convenience are key factors in determining the success of new communication technology and its adoption into everyday life. In the book Wireless World, the authors outline the key features of mobile phone technology stating: ‘mobile phones, unlike personal computers, are small, mobile, constantly on, and potentially constantly connected’ (Brown, 2002: 5). The very fact that they are ‘mobile’ and ‘constantly connected’ justify their role within society. As Puro identifies in the book Perpetual Contact the most distinctive characteristic of the mobile phone is that it ‘privatizes public places’ (Katz, 2002: 23).

It has the ability to change the social context of a situation. A previously private, domestic routine has become a common habit in public spaces with the invention of mobile telecommunication. I would suggest that this increased accessibility has changed the ways in which we communicate and thus impacted upon certain social behaviours associated with their usage. Previously physically restricted media, such as the phone, have become increasingly more portable and have therefore found their way into our public lives.

What started life as a business tool specially installed in expensive top model motor cars has become an ‘essential’ part of many people’s everyday domestic and business routine. The progression of mobility (and incidentally affordability) has been a prime factor on its dramatic uptake within society and increasing influence on social behaviour.

During the course of writing this assignment I encountered behavior which supported

the idea of a changing social environment in response to technological development. One such example took place on a train bound for London where a young Australian woman received a mobile phone call and started to cry. Many of the travellers become uneasy and uncomfortable at the situation they were forced into, not knowing how to respond.

The differentiation between public and private behavior is becoming less apparent as society becomes more tolerant of new technologies. Due to the speed at which technology is advancing in today’s society, new electronic communication media are becoming an increasingly important influence on everyday life and so we find ourselves adapting to it faster than ever before. In this way technology creates new conventions and establishes new social norms.

Meyrowitz states that ‘the live, ongoing nature of most electronic communications makes it much more difficult to separate the public thread of experience from the private one’ (Meyrowitz, 1985: 114). He terms the telephone an ‘unobtrusive [medium]’ (Meyrowitz, 1985: 109) as it does not require you to consider the ‘intervening medium’ during conversation unlike the writing of a letter (e.g. translating thoughts to text) or the sending of an e-mail.

He states that speaking to someone on the phone has become ‘natural’. Society is becoming more accepting of technology and their usage is becoming less apparent in the sense that people don’t consciously think about the mobile phone as a medium. Its use has become routine and people’s dependency upon being in contact with the world ‘anywhere’ has seen it accepted as a common medium.

Meyrowitz develops this point by using the example of the expression ‘I spoke to ____ last night’. The fact that the medium is not mentioned in the utterance suggests the medium is discreet in its demands of the user and as a result is given greater acceptance in various social situations. This approval tends to support the concept of a blurring line between public and private behaviours. Despite Meyrowitz’s text being written prior to the growth of mobile telecommunication, his texts can be useful in assessing the actual affordances and constraints of the telephone medium.

Traditionally, public and private spheres have been given different gender associations. It has been stereotyped that women are often depicted forming part of the private sphere (e.g. ‘the domestic bound housewife’) whereas men participate more in the public sphere (e.g. ‘the breadwinner’). Valerie Frissen identifies a common representation of women as ‘victims of technological developments’ (Silverstone, 1996: 56). I would also argue that a similar representation of men with regards to communication itself was also evident. Despite these views, many are beginning to recognise the role technology is playing in introducing public activities into the private domain and vice versa. For example, ICT provision in the home (public into private) and mobile phone technology into the street (private into public). To this extent, not only are the spheres converging, they are also changing the representation of gender associated activities.

As I discussed earlier concerning personal home pages, anonymity is a key factor to determining people’s attitudes towards private conversations in public spaces. In the book Perpetual Contact, Fortunati states that ‘it is not rare to overhear… the most intimate things said by people who are totally anonymous to us’ (Katz 2002: 50). He continues with observations from Georg Simmel (1901) who suggested that the reason two strangers could discuss such personal affairs was because of anonymity between the participants.

I propose that the western concept of privacy is changing as technology continues to play a greater part in our lives. Privacy is a controversial issue and a principle which the public seem keen to retain. Recent news stories regarding the Home Office considering the introduction of new identity cards assigned to citizens by the government have fuelled new fears that our privacy may be invaded. What we must consider is that the concept of privacy is a social construction and something individual to the user. Clay Calvert suggests that privacy expectations change ‘to comport new technological developments’ (Calvert, 2000: 221) and that these lessen our expectations of privacy. Our opinions on what information should remain private and under our own control are contextually dependent on a number of factors including culture, society, time and individual ideology.

A dominant ideology that many subscribe to, is the popular belief that the ‘[media] has entered the private sphere and invaded it’ (Silverstone, 1996: 74). A threat which ironically journalism media tend to ‘hype’. This typically technologically determinist view suggests that rather than us consuming the media, we are used by it.

We can see the idea of public and private space has been an important issue ever since medieval times. Over the years our definition of the term public has changed quite dramatically as outlined in the book A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World by Georges Duby. He describes how the word ‘public’ which used to describe institutions and governments has become an umbrella term for any experiences outside the private realm.

At the risk of technological reification I would like to conclude acknowledging that technology has, and is continuing to play a role in the development of social behavior. We are adapting the way in which we present ourselves through our use of web pages and changing the way in which we interact by using mobile communication technology around other people. As with all new situations we are developing a number of recognised codes and conventions. As we accept these new codes and conventions and become more and more reliant on new mediums, we also accept that social situations are affected and the way we deal with technology is changing. One such area that can be

identified is the merging of behaviours previously recognised as public and private. The boundary between the two is becoming far less clear as technology assumes a greater role in our everyday life. It is not easy to prove that we are revealing more about ourselves or that our privacy is being invaded but we can identify changes in social behavior brought about by technological advances.

Marshall McLuhan

Technological Determinism Of Marshall McLuhan

Technological Determinism was molded by Marshall McLuhan. the idea behind the theory is that changes in the way humans communicate is what shapes our existence.

The communications theory of Technological Determinism was molded by Marshall McLuhan. The basic idea behind the theory is that changes in the way humans communicate is what shapes our existence. McLuhan feels that our culture is molded by how we are able to communicate. To understand this, there are a few main points you must comprehend. First, inventions in communication technology cause cultural change. Secondly, changes in modes of communication shape human life. Thirdly, as McLuhan himself puts it, "We shape our tools, and they in turn shape us". Technological Determinism is distinctly a humanistic theory. As you read on, this will become quite evident.
What exactly is considered media? Media is anything out there that helps to amplify or intensify a human sense or function. In other words, each new media innovation that we have is considered to be an extension of some human faculty. Take a book for example, which can be considered an extension of the eye. The wheel may be looked at as an extension of the foot. Clothing parallels human skin, and electronic circuitry closely resembles the human central nervous system.
According to this theory, there are several giant evolutions in the way humans have learned to communicate over time. Each of these innovations works as an extension of one of the human senses. McLuhan has divided human history into 4 critical periods of time. In each case, the moving on from one era to another is brought on by a new mode of communication which causes some sort of significant change in society.
First there was the 'tribal age', followed by the 'literate age', the 'print age', and finally the 'electronic age', which is where society is now. The invention that changed life for the 'tribal age' was that of a phonetic alphabet. For these primitive people, hearing was the most important sense. The right hemisphere of the brain, which controls hearing, was the more dominant side. With the creation of the alphabet and the expansion into the 'literate age', people were then forced to use their eyes as well as their ears. This was a huge change in that it heavily altered the lifestyles of our ancestors. McLuhan suggests that it was the development of the phonetic alphabet that brought about the emergence of mathematics, science, and philosophy as well.
This new 'literate age' was brought to an end by the development of the printing press. Gutenberg's printing press moved society into the 'print age', making visual dependence more widespread. When people see ideas in print as apposed to word of mouth, the words take on a whole new meaning. The ability to print ideas meant the ability to shape the views and opinions of people worldwide.
McLuhan believed that the invention of the telegraph was the next giant step, moving people into the current 'electronic age'. The ability to instantly communicate via technology has caused humans to be pre-occupied with sound and touch, not unlike our ancestors of the 'tribal age'. A "global village" of sorts has been formed according to McLuhan, with the individuality removed from our culture.
McLuhan describes Technological Determinism in terms of what each society deems the important way to communicate. What one could hear was truth for people of the 'tribal age', while what was available to read defined the truth for those alive during the 'print age'. In essence, the same exact words can have completely different meaning based on whether they are spoken person to person, printed on paper, or presented through instantaneous communication (i.e. television or radio). What we as people view as truth at each particular point in human history has the active voice. These are all examples of what makes a good humanistic theory.
Also, Technological Determinism happens to conflict with many examples of scientific theory criteria. Technological Determinism helps to explain the past as well as what is happening in the present, but does not bother to predict the future (what the next 'age' or invention will be). As for a testable hypothesis, it is nearly impossible to test a theory such as this. How are we going to properly evaluate the effect of the alphabet on people whom had no way to write their history?
One could also go on to conclude that such a theory helps to change the way people look at the world. Instead of looking at the contents of a communication for the message, Technological Determinism tells us to look to the medium for it. It is an intriguing concept, but like a Monet painting, the closer you get to the canvas the harder it is to see the real picture.
From the distance, this theory does seem clean and concise. However the more you look into it, the more you will be unable to overlook the multitude of holes in the theory. Most professionals consider Technological Determinism little more than cartoon art, and for very good reason. Many of McLuhan's ideas conjure up notions about societies that we have no way to check in with for without the invention of a time machine. Are we supposed to simply "take his word" for it? He constantly asks us to make leaps of faith on the most important issues of the theory.
When one reads McLuhan's writings, (or hears his lectures), it becomes quite evident that McLuhan is more concerned with creating eye (or ear) candy, and less concerned with bringing on the main course. He spends plenty of time evaluating the power of current technology such as television and how it affected current culture. Then we are to follow McLuhan on a leap of faith to say that ALL advances in communication technology have had similar effects.
To say technology alone is responsible for creating all that we are today is a rather narrow minded view. To so easily discount such "trivial" concepts as natural evolution, politics, and religion, then claim there is a single cause of human development is just plain ignorant. He takes our progression out of the hands of God and the politicians, and puts it into the hands of engineers and computer experts. I for one do not think that these are the people responsible for molding society.
Don't get me wrong here; I do think this theory follows some lines of common sense. However, common sense hardly means it is correct. It used to be common sense that Blacks weren't as smart as Whites and that drilling into someone's brain would help release the evil demons inside. These days, it is probably a little safer to provide a bit of evidence before claiming to know who people are and how their minds work.

Into the Future: Man and Machines

The human condition is going to change. It could be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology.

What are the greatest global threats to humanity? Are we on the verge of our own unexpected extinction? An international team of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers at Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute is investigating the bigg
What are the greatest global threats to humanity? Are we on the verge of our own unexpected extinction? An international team of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers at Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute is investigating the bigg

Future Transportation Technology Will Blow Your Mind

Technological Determinism: What It Is..

Technological determinism is a phrase that describes how technology influences human evolution: how who we are is determined by the tools we invent and use. I’d like you to start using it to understand why the world is what it is today.
Technological determinism is a phrase that describes how technology influences human evolution: how who we are is determined by the tools we invent and use. I’d like you to start using it to understand why the world is what it is today.

Technological Determinism and Modern Ideology

A Short View On Technological Determinism written by Kurt Heidinger:

First, they’ve made the world much smaller, by making it possible for people to connect just about anywhere, anytime. This connectivity has enhanced the homogenizing effects of economic globalization, while also making it easy for governments and corporations to track our movements; conversely, they have made it possible for whistleblowers and revolutionaries to get their messages out while cultural change is occurring, while increasing the speed of that change.

Second, the connectivity-aspect turns most cellphone-carrying youths into texting addicts, a kind of human being we have no previous record of: a new kind of human.

Third, driving has become noticeably unsafer because many drivers lose their concentration as they use their cellphones.

Marshall McLuhan was one of the clearest thinking and most enthusiastic proponents of technological determinism, and is famous for saying “the medium is the message.” Rightly, he concluded that technology—such as the printing press, radio and TV—created new “spaces” for humans to inhabit and exist mentally and physically in; and as people adapted to these new spaces, they changed: they evolved. The printing press gave us the Gutenberg Bible, which gave us Protestantism, etc etc. Radio gave us popular music, Hitler & FDR. TV gave us JFK and couch potatoes.

McLuhan, by and large, was a booster, a technological utopian; he put a positive spin on technological determinism, because the arrival of new technologies seemed always to open new “spaces” and therefore, new frontiers where freedom-lovers could dash to escape the strictures of older, crowded, stagnating “spaces.” He was writing in the 1960’s when Apollo missions were increasing the presence of humanity in the solar system, MLK was leading our nation to end racism, and the green revolution was reducing the cost of food while bringing all kinds of new foods into the supermarkets.

Because new technologies opened “spaces,” McLuhan thought that technological was a “neutral” force of human evolution. It was, “objectively” considered, neither good or bad—for example, the same cell phone technology used to trigger car-bombs is also used to call an ambulance.

I am not so sure, and will write about how, since it is the result of humanly-made economic decisions, technological determinism is not “neutral.” My goal is to explain 1) how technological determinism gave us the Fukushima meltdowns at the exact same time that president Obama insisted that we must have 30 new nuclear power plants (& the BP gulf spill at the time he was extolling offshore drilling), and 2) how many of the “spaces” sired by technological determinism have turned in exitless traps.

According to an article written on this subject by and posted on HelpMe.com:

As technology becomes increasingly advanced and literacy becomes increasingly tied to one’s use and access to technology, many questions arise about the availability of this technology. New technologies continue to develop, especially those that directly pertain to literacy or writing. The biggest problem, however, is the problem of access. Is there opportunity for equal access? When looking at computers and the Internet, this seems to be a large problem.

Even with an older technology, like the telephone, many people are without access. Although there are around 600 million telephones in the world, two-thirds of the world’s population still do not use these telephones or do not have access to them (Gergen). So how does technological determinism affect our social ideology? Or does our social ideology affect technological determinism? I think that it works both ways. There are negative possibilities for all new technology, just as there are positive ones.

Technological determinism, as defined by George Rodman is “a theory that states that the introduction of new technology changes society, sometimes in unexpected ways” (40). He goes on to tell that after the introduction of printing, our culture shifted from an oral one to one driven by writing and literacy. The coming of the “digital age” could have a similar effect. As a science fiction writer and proponent of various technologies, Douglas Adams is asked about this subject quite often:

Over the last few years I’ve regularly been cornered by nervous publishers or broadcasters or journalists or filmmakers and asked about how I think computers will affect their various industries…But it’s a hard question to answer because it’s based on a faulty model. It’s like trying to explain to the Amazon River, the Mississippi, the Congo, and the Nile how the coming of the Atlantic Ocean will affect them. The first thing to understand is that river rules will no longer apply (Douglas).

Obviously, the advent of computers as a tool of literacy will have a huge impact on the face of literacy as it stands right now.

Technological determinism seems inevitable, but the effects of the impending technologies are not as easy to predict. Depending on our society’s view of the emerging technology, it could either be used to bridge the cultural gap that exists between the income levels in our society, or to widen it. Strong arguments exist on either side of this conundrum.

It is possible that the current stage of technological determinism will bring about change for the better. It may be able to bring together people of diverse social and economic backgrounds. In the Hogan and Bruce article, they mention the emerging technology as referred to as “new electronic villages” (269). Douglas Adams agrees:

We are natural villagers. For most of mankind’s history, we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing.

He believes, like many people, that the increasingly popular and used digital technology will help bring society together. And while some believe that digital technology will drive social and economic groups further apart through high prices, Adams disagrees. He says that while computers were originally expensive, the cost of “a jet aircraft,” prices are quickly dropping, and that soon computers will be as common as television sets or telephones. And while not all of the population has access to these technologies (as I pointed out in the first paragraph), many people who cannot afford a telephone can access computers and the Internet at their local library. Internet cafés exist, in which one can access the Internet at a negligible price. While these conveniences do not yet exist in third world countries, with prices dropping rapidly, it soon could.

However, some believe that the increase in technology could widen the gap between social classes and even races. These people claim that computers and other newer technology will not be accessible to those of lower class and will just add to the list of things that some disadvantaged people do not have access to. They also believe that new technology could continue to promote oppression. “They see technology implicated in the loss of jobs, and poor working conditions, surveillance, and regimentation, and caution us about censorship and unfair access” (Hogan and Bruce 269). In the past, new technologies have been used to overpower or even enslave people. The cotton gin, for instance, only helped to lengthen slavery in the United States. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, people were forced to work under terrible conditions. Some people associate all technology with these cases. They equate new technology with tyranny.

Neither of these scenarios is necessarily true. Worldwide Internet access may never be possible; however, world domination through the Internet is not looming on the horizon either. The use of the internet as a tool depends, like any technology, on whoever is in control of it. It also depends on the expectations we have as a society. If we see the Internet as something that only the upper classes should have access to, then we guarantee that this and other emerging technologies will never be available to everyone. However, if we continue in our current trend, the likelihood of every man, woman, and child having access to the rest of the world grows.

I personally believe that we are on the track to worldwide connection, not only with computers and the Internet, but also with telephones, televisions and automobiles. As technology spreads and continues to develop, it becomes more available.

The cost of connection is rapidly approaching zero, and for a very simple reason: the value of the web increases with every single additional person who joins it. It’s in everybody’s interest for costs to keep dropping closer and closer to nothing until every last person on the planet is connected (Adams).

Even in some of the formerly wildest places on Earth, Western civilization is beginning to creep in. And as the worldwide connection continues to expand, a greater understanding of the world occurs. This could benefit not only those in Western countries, but also those without some of the advantages that Western culture offers. For instance, those living in Communist China or North Korea might be able to one day access the Internet and be able to learn about the outside world more honestly. This could lead to massive changes in government, as well as ideology.

So I hope that the prevalent ideology in this country (and others) leans toward equal access. If so, the current trend toward computers and the Internet will become as a big a revolution as the change from oral language to printed texts. We could experience the kind of revolution that Douglas Adams envisioned when he said that “computers will be as trivial and plentiful as…sheets of paper or grains of sand.” And while we will need to monitor our use of this new technology to prevent exploiting others, it could benefit our society more than any of us can imagine. So while our society has a lot of work to do to perfect the Internet and access to it, we have a lot to look forward to. And as Adams said, “The river rules no longer apply.”

Douglas Ruskoff

Douglas Rushkoff wants you to quit TweetDeck and just read a book

Douglas Ruskoff Intones:

“If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism,” media theorist Douglas Rushkoff writes in his new book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, “the twenty-first can be defined by presentism.” For Rushkoff, we’ve ceased being a “future-focused culture” and instead morphed into one that can’t look past “the now.” The result, he says, is “present shock” — our panicky retort to an always-on, real-time society.

In the book, Rushkoff zeroes in on five principal ways present shock allegedly rears its head: narrative collapse, how storytellers are reacting to no longer having “the time required to tell a linear story”; digiphrenia, the uneasy ways “our media and technologies encourage us to be in more than one place at the same time”; overwinding, the “effort to make the passing moment responsible for the sorts of effects that actually take real time to occur”; fractalnoia, the “attempt to draw connections from one thing to another in the frozen moment, even when such connections are forced or imaginary”; and apocalypto, “the way a seemingly infinite present makes us long for endings, by almost any means necessary.”

I recently spoke with Rushkoff about how he sees present shock affecting the media, why he thinks we should refocus on what people are doing to others through technology, and whether writing books still matters in the Internet age. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited and condensed.

ERIC ALLEN BEEN: You’ve said that “present shock” is in some sense a lens — a way of looking at the digital world and our condition in it. Could you describe what the current state of journalism looks like to you through that lens?
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: Present shock is basically the human response to living in a world where everything happens at once. Where we can no longer think about the future, because this moment is everything. And it’s to some extent our anxious reactions to the pings of the digital media environment and its static quality.
In regards to legacy journalism, a lot of people are disconnected from it partly because of present shock. When they’re living on digital platforms that emphasize choice over any kind of prescriptive pathways, they tend to lose any sense of value in pretty much anything professional or authoritative. They sort of descent into a very relativistic view of things — where anybody who can blog or get on the net is pretty much as valuable as anybody else, so there’s no authoritative opinion.

It’s become hard for people to justify why to pay attention to one thing instead of another. So you end up with people — and this is young and old — wondering why we have professional journalists at all. There are reasons why I don’t like this situation. Governments and corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars creating false truths and there’s this society that’s not willing to spend a few hundred bucks so that reporters can find out the real story. To apply some professional skill at following and deconstructing what’s going on.

BEEN: Yet you’re pretty critical of the media in the book — for instance, writing that “media events tend to matter less for whatever they are purportedly about than for the space they fill.”
RUSHKOFF: Critical of some forms of it. Current events really only matter to the extent that they can fill this cultural standing wave that’s looking for a particular kind of content to fill it. It means that what’s driving our fascination is more primal or emotional or cultural than it is actual.
Why do we get fascinated with the Casey Anthony trial, as opposed to anything else that happened on the same day? Because it got picked. I’ve thought long and hard about that Deepwater Horizon oil spill video that was sitting in the top of the CNN news screen for so long. It was present and interminable at the same time. That weird kind of frozen, continuous, anxious presence that I’m talking about in Present Shock.

BEEN: Speaking of CNN, you recently announced in a column on its site that you quit Facebook. Yet you kept your Twitter account and have a pretty active one. As a writer, why does Twitter still have value for you but Facebook no longer does?
RUSHKOFF: I think that they both have value — it’s just that Facebook actively misrepresents me to other people, to people who choose to “like me” on it and so on. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be inviting them to make themselves vulnerable to all these kinds of misrepresentations — things like whether their image will be put in an ad that I may not condone myself. It’s a case in point of what I call in my book “digiphrenia” — namely, an instance of you doing something online you’re completely unaware of. On Twitter, I get the ability to broadcast ideas and links and messages to other people, but with far fewer strings attached. Twitter is much more about spreading and exchanging links — 140 characters are not where the real content lies.
BEEN: So you do think there are some media outlets that aren’t determined by presentism?
RUSHKOFF: Yes, I think some are recognizing that they’re better off explaining the news than driving it or trying to keep up with it. To some extent, even the evening newscast is realizing now that it’s not about the exclusive, up-to-the-second thing that no one can digest, but it is about making sense of the day, or making sense of what’s just happened. The ability to which they can anchor the day or a particular moment of the day. Just think about it: 6:30 p.m., you come to the TV, you get to watch someone explain what we already know about. That’s something they really shouldn’t lose touch with the power of. The cycle of it, the time of the day, the sun’s going down, and here we are gathering. It’s so powerful, especially compared to this world where everything’s streaming, the non-stop news crawls, the feeds.
The Wall Street Journal has held onto a lot of what the nightly newscast provides, shockingly even with Murdoch at the helm. There’s this sense that they understand. There’s a periodicity to what they’re doing, so they stay anchored in time. The New York Times, on the other hand, it’s so hard to even comment on them, because there are so many New York Timeses happening simultaneously. It’s schizophrenic. I don’t even know how to consume it anymore.

BEEN: So, to put into context with your book, you think The Wall Street Journal can still provide a traditional narrative, which you view as being by and large collapsed in our digital world, whereas the Times no longer does?
RUSHKOFF: Yes! But that’s because the Times hasn’t quite sussed out what’s leading what. There’s too many different ways to consume it. I just feel like they haven’t distinguished between that which is fit to print and that which is part of the stream of whatever they have to keep up with.
BEEN: This makes me think about how you differentiate in the book between “stored information” and “flowing information.” That is, stored information being something that can be fully consumed, like a physical copy of The New York Times, whereas flowing is something that can’t be, like the @nytimes Twitter feed. You write: “When we attempt to pack the requirements of storage into media or flow, or to reap the benefits of flow from media that locks things into storage, we end up in present shock.” That seems to be a good description of what newspapers are currently grappling with.
RUSHKOFF: For sure. You just can’t use the newspaper to keep up in society any longer. And you can’t use live blogging to make sense of anything. This is digressing a bit, but I was just talking with my friend about rock concerts. And I said, “Why can’t I just be at the show and experience this thing? Why am I supposed to be recording it? Tweeting about it? Why am I assuming that responsibility? Is it even more fun?” No, we don’t all have to do that. And when you put your phone on your arm and have it vibrate every time something’s coming through, what are you? Are we air traffic controllers? Are we Associated Press emergency journalists? Why do we live at that heightened level of expectation and readiness? We don’t need to be there.
BEEN: You’re pretty hard on futurists who emerged in the 1990s, saying they “became less about predicting the future than pandering to those who sought to maintain an expired past.” Can you talk about what you mean there?
RUSHKOFF: When the digital renaissance first started to occur, it looked as if we were going to have a break from corporate capitalism. I then thought people are now going to exchange value directly and create value in decentralized ways. It looked like a true disruption. But the futurists who got in the headlines were ones who didn’t want to disrupt corporate capitalism, but ones who made predictions that would be the salvation for corporate capitalism. And a lot of this is what led to us using digital technology in a way where we’re trying to maximize the efficiency of humans rather than give us some slack.
BEEN: You write that you’re “much less concerned with whatever it is technology may be doing to people than what people are choosing to do to one another through technology.” Yet some media seems to fixate on the former. I have The Atlantic’s most recent issue in front of me and the cover story is about what tablets are “doing to toddler’s brains.” Why, in your mind, should we refocus on the latter?
RUSHKOFF: When we blame technology, it makes it seem as if we’re powerless to do anything and as if we’re not responsible. Your email is not doing anything to you. It’s a bunch of people who are doing something to you. They’re sending you all that damned email. Email doesn’t expect you to respond to it — the people who’ve sent you the email expect you to respond to it.
What I’m trying to do is replace the blame where the blame goes. Once we accept responsibility, we’re empowered to do something about it, to change the level of expectation that we have of our employees. There are employees who are supposed to sit there and live tweet and respond to everything for eight hours straight, and you wonder why that person’s fried. That person needs to be given the same kind of breaks that an air traffic controller gets. It’s unreasonable.

But no, it’s almost never the technology. Different technologies are biased to particular things — for example, guns are biased towards killing more than pillows are. But it’s still people — at the gun companies, shareholders of the gun companies, still human beings — that are responsible for the unnecessary proliferation of weapons into our society. The more we focus on the object, the less we can do as humans to change any of this.

BEEN: You conclude Present Shock by calling books “anachronistic.” But a lot of statistics show that reading books is not declining but rising. And people seem to still really care for longform journalism.
RUSHKOFF: There’s a fascination with books, the same way there’s a fascination with mid-century furniture that’s made in the United States by craftspeople or designed by Heywood-Wakefield or something, as opposed to just going to Ikea or Walmart and getting something that was made in China.
So there is a reading or a word fetish, but today, longform is not a book. Today, longform is a 1,500-word article. Evan Williams has this online publishing platform called Medium, which is these little essays, but it’s longform compared to tweets or Facebook updates. In reality, if I write an 800-word piece on CNN, it goes up the day I wrote it and I reach a couple million people. With a book, it takes me two years to get it together and it takes a year for them to publish it. I’ve got to work like hell to even get 20,000 people to read the thing — or buy the thing, and half of them actually read it.

It does feel like I’m writing opera when people are buying singles or MP3s. And yeah, opera is on the rise too, people are going, but it doesn’t feel like a central cultural force. Especially books as “books.” There are more books today than ever, but most of them are kind of calling cards from startup consultants more than they are meant as books.

BEEN: Why write books, then?
RUSHKOFF: It’s partly how I was raised. But it’s also that there are certain kinds of arguments you can make in them that you can’t make in an article. Most books today aren’t even books, they’re these series of articles. People don’t have the stamina to write a real book anymore. I wanted to do two things. One, I wanted to say something that couldn’t be said in a list of bullet points. And second, it’s kind of a radical act in saying: “I’m giving two years of my human life to put together a single text artifact, and I’m going to request that you seize authority of five or six hours of your life so you can read it.” So a gateway to understanding present shock is to somehow figure out a way that you have five hours. Just in getting people to take that stand — five hours against the torrent of distractions — is itself an act against present shock.

Evolution (Or It's?)...

A Brave New World - Our Presenteism ... Automated Man

It would appropriate at this point to consult with Aldous Huxley on the methods and ways that were used to condition today's technological Man, and in so doing(citing Huxley) we will get a historical sense to the genesis and direction that this conditioning has emerged from and taken. I will therefore cull extenisvely from Huxley to make my point. Meaning, the fact that Technological Man and his Environment Are being Conditoned by Technological Technique and its related gizmos, is someting that has long been in the making as we are witnessig it today.

We learn form Huxley"

But life is short and information endless: nobody has time for everything. In practice we are generally forced to choose between an unduly brief exposition and no exposition at all. Abbreviation is a necessary evil and the abbreviator's business is to make the best of a job which, though intrinsically bad, is still better than nothing. He must learn to simplify, but not to the point of falsification. He must learn to concentrate upon the essentials of a situation, but without ignor­ing too many of reality's qualifying side issues. In this way he may be able to tell, not indeed the whole truth (for the whole truth about almost any important sub­ject is incompatible with brevity), but considerably more than the dangerous quarter-truths and half-truths which have always been the current coin of thought.

Omitted from the picture (not as being unimportant, but merely for convenience and because I have dis­cussed them on earlier occasions) are the mechanical and military enemies of freedom -- the weapons and "hardware" which have so powerfully strengthened the hands of the world's rulers against their subjects, and the ever more ruinously costly preparations for ever more senseless and suicidal wars. The chapters that follow should be read against a background of thoughts about the Hungarian uprising and its re­pression, about H-bombs, about the cost of what every nation refers to as "defense," and about those endless columns of uniformed boys, white, black, brown, yel­low, marching obediently toward the common grave.

The completely organized society, the scientific caste sys­tem, the abolition of free will by methodical condition­ing, the servitude made acceptable by regular doses of chemically induced happiness, the orthodoxies drummed in by nightly courses of sleep-teaching -- these things were coming all right, but not in my time, not even in the time of my grandchildren.

George Orwell's 1984 was a magnified projection into the future of a present that contained Stalinism and an immediate past that had witnessed the flowering of Nazism. The society described in 1984 is a society controlled almost exclusively by punishment and the fear of pun­ishment. In the imaginary world of my own fable, pun­ishment is infrequent and generally mild.

The nearly perfect control exercised by the government is achieved by systematic reinforcement of desirable be­havior, by many kinds of nearly non-violent manipula­tion, both physical and psychological, and by genetic standardization. Babies in bottles and the centralized control of reproduction are not perhaps impossible; but it is quite clear that for a long time to come we shall remain a viviparous species breeding at random. For practical purposes genetic standardization may be ruled out. Societies will continue to be controlled post-natally -- by punishment, as in the past, and to an ever increasing extent by the more effective methods of reward and scientific manipulation.

Meanwhile impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously acceler­ated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new tech­niques for manipulating, in the interest of some minor­ity, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.

The tech­niques of manipulation will be discussed in later chapters. For the moment let us confine our attention to those impersonal forces which are now making the world so extremely unsafe for democracy, so very in­hospitable to individual freedom. What are these forces? And why has the nightmare, which I had pro­jected into the seventh century A.F., made so swift an advance in our direction? The answer to these ques­tions must begin where the life of even the most highly civilized society has its beginnings -- on the level of biology.

Whenever the economic life of a nation becomes pre­carious, the central government is forced to assume additional responsibilities for the general welfare. It must work out elaborate plans for dealing with a criti­cal situation; it must impose ever greater restrictions upon the activities of its subjects; and if, as is very likely, worsening economic conditions result in polit­ical unrest, or open rebellion, the central government must intervene to preserve public order and its own authority.

More and more power is thus concentrated in the hands of the executives and their bureaucratic managers. But the nature of power is such that even those who have not sought it, but have had it forced upon them, tend to acquire a taste for more. "Lead us not into temptation," we pray -- and with good reason; for when human beings are tempted too enticingly or too long, they generally yield. A democratic constitu­tion is a device for preventing the local rulers from yielding to those particularly dangerous temptations that arise when too much power is concentrated in too few hands.

Such a constitution works pretty well where, as in Britain or the United States, there is a traditional respect for constitutional procedures. Where the republican or limited monarchical tradition is weak, the best of constitutions will not prevent ambi­tious politicians from succumbing with glee and gusto to the temptations of power. And in any country where numbers have begun to press heavily upon avail­able resources, these temptations cannot fail to arise. Over-population leads to economic insecurity and so­cial unrest. Unrest and insecurity lead to more con­trol by central governments and an increase of their power.

In the absence of a constitutional tradition, this increased power will probably be exercised in a dictatorial fashion. Even if Communism had never been invented, this would be likely to happen. But Com­munism has been invented. Given this fact, the proba­bility of over-population leading through unrest to dic­tatorship becomes a virtual certainty. It is a pretty safe bet that, twenty years from now, all the world's over-populated and underdeveloped countries will be under some form of totalitarian rule -- probably by the Communist party/or capitalistic rule and economics-[I think the latter has been the case, thus far]..

But liberty, as we all know, cannot flour­ish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government. And permanent crisis is what we have to expect in a world in which over-population is producing a state of things, in which dictatorship under Communist/[capitalist] auspices becomes almost inevitable.

Organization is indispensable; for liberty arises and has meaning only within a self-regulating community of freely cooperating individuals. But, though indispensable, organization can also be fatal. Too much or­ganization transforms men and women into automata, suffocates the creative spirit and abolishes the very possibility of freedom. As usual, the only safe course is in the middle, between the extremes of laissez-faire at one end of the scale and of total control at the other.

During the past century the successive advances in technology have been accompanied by corresponding advances in organization. Complicated machinery has had to be matched by complicated social arrangements, designed to work as smoothly and efficiently as the new instruments of production. In order to fit into these organizations, individuals have had to deindivid-ualize themselves, have had to deny their native diver­sity and conform to a standard pattern, have had to do their best to become automata.

The dehumanizing effects of over-organization are reinforced by the dehumanizing effects of over-popula­tion. Industry, as it expands, draws an ever greater proportion of humanity's increasing numbers into large cities. But life in large cities is not conducive to mental health (the highest incidence of schizophrenia, we are told, occurs among the swarming inhabitants of industrial slums); nor does it foster the kind of responsible freedom within small self-governing groups, which is the first condition of a genuine democ­racy.

City life is anonymous and, as it were, abstract. People are related to one another, not as total person­alities, but as the embodiments of economic functions or, when they are not at work, as irresponsible seekers of entertainment. Subjected to this kind of life, indi­viduals tend to feel lonely and insignificant. Their ex­istence ceases to have any point or meaning.

Civilization is, among other things, the process by which primitive packs are transformed into an analogue, crude and mechanical, of the social in­sects' organic communities. At the present time the pressures of over-population and technological change are accelerating this process. The termitary has come to seem a realizable and even, in some eyes, a desirable ideal. Needless to say, the ideal will never in fact be realized. A great gulf separates the social insect from the not too gregarious, big-brained mammal; and even though the mammal should do his best to imitate the insect, the gulf would remain. However hard they try, men cannot create a social organism, they can only create an organization. In the process of trying to create an organism they will merely create a totali­tarian despotism.

Brave New World presents a fanciful and somewhat ribald picture of a society, in which the attempt to re­create human beings in the likeness of termites has been pushed almost to the limits of the possible. That we are being propelled in the direction of Brave New World is obvious. But no less obvious is the fact that we can, if we so desire, refuse to co-operate with the blind forces that are propelling us.

For the moment, however, the wish to resist does not seem to be very strong or very widespread. As Mr. William Whyte has shown in his remarkable book, The Organization Man, a new Social Ethic is replacing our traditional ethical system -- the system in which the individual is primary. The key words in this Social Ethic are "adjustment," "adaptation," "socially orientated behavior," "belongingness," "acquisition of social skills," "team work," "group living," "group loyalty," "group dynamics," "group thinking," "group creativ­ity." Its basic assumption is that the social whole has greater worth and significance than its individual parts, that inborn biological differences should be sac­rificed to cultural uniformity, that the rights of the collectivity take precedence over what the eighteenth century called the Rights of Man.

The current Social Ethic, it is obvious, is merely a justification after the fact of the less desirable conse­quences of over-organization. It represents a pathetic attempt to make a virtue of necessity, to extract a positive value from an unpleasant datum. It is a very unrealistic, and therefore very dangerous, system of morality. The social whole, whose value is assumed to be greater than that of its component parts, is not an organism in the sense that a hive or a termitary may be thought of as an organism. It is merely an organiza­tion, a piece of social machinery.

There can be no value except in relation to life and awareness. An organiza­tion is neither conscious nor alive. Its value is instru­mental and derivative. It is not good in itself; it is good only to the extent that it promotes the good of the individuals who are the parts of the collective whole. To give organizations precedence over persons is to subordinate ends to means. What happens when ends are subordinated to means was clearly demonstrated by Hitler and Stalin.

Under their hideous rule personal ends were subordinated to organizational means by a mixture of violence and propaganda, systematic terror and the systematic manipulation of minds. In the more efficient dictatorships of tomorrow there will probably be much less violence than under Hitler and Stalin. The future dictator's subjects will be painlessly regimented by a corps of highly trained social engineers.

"The challenge of social engineering in our time," writes an enthusiastic advocate of this new science, "is like the challenge of technical engi­neering fifty years ago. If the first half of the twen­tieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engi­neers" -- and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of World Controllers, the scientific caste system and Brave New World. To the question quis custodiet custodes --

Who will mount guard over our guardians, who will engineer the engineers? -- the an­swer is a bland denial that they need any supervision. There seems to be a touching belief among certain Ph.D.'s in sociology that Ph.D.'s in sociology will never be corrupted by power. Like Sir Galahad's, their strength is as the strength of ten because their heart is pure -- and their heart is pure because they are scien­tists and have taken six thousand hours of social studies.

Alas, higher education is not necessarily a guaran­tee of higher virtue, or higher political wisdom. And to these misgivings on ethical and psychological grounds must be added misgivings of a purely scientific charac­ter. Can we accept the theories on which the social engineers base their practice, and in terms of which they justify their manipulations of human beings? For example, Professor Elton Mayo tells us categori­cally that "man's desire to be continuously associated in work with his fellows is a strong, if not the strong­est human characteristic." This, I would say, is mani­festly untrue. Some people have the kind of desire de­scribed by Mayo; others do not. It is a matter of tem­perament and inherited constitution. Any social organ­ization based upon the assumption that "man" (who­ever "man" may be) desires to be continuously asso­ciated with his fellows would be, for many individual men and women, a bed of Procrustes. Only by being amputated or stretched upon the rack could they be adjusted to it.

Democratic institutions are devices for reconciling social order with individual freedom and initiative, and for making the immediate power of a country's rulers subject to the ultimate power of the ruled. The fact that, in Western Europe and America, these de­vices have worked, all things considered, not too badly is proof enough that the eighteenth-century optimists were not entirely wrong. Given a fair chance, human beings can govern themselves, and govern themselves better, though perhaps with less mechanical efficiency, than they can be governed by "authorities independent of their will."

Given a fair chance, I repeat; for the fair chance is an indispensable prerequisite. No people that passes abruptly from a state of subservience un­der the rule of a despot to the completely unfamiliar state of political independence can be said to have a fair chance of making democratic institutions work. Again, no people in a precarious economic condition has a fair chance of being able to govern itself demo­cratically.

Liberalism flourishes in an atmosphere of prosperity and declines as declining prosperity makes it necessary for the government to intervene ever more frequently and drastically in the affairs of its subjects. Over-population and over-organization are two condi­tions which, as I have already pointed out, deprive a society of a fair chance of making democratic institu­tions work effectively. We see, then, that there are certain historical, economic, demographic and techno­logical conditions which make it very hard for Jefferson's rational animals, endowed by nature with inalienable rights and an innate sense of justice, to exercise their reason, claim their rights and act justly within a democratically organized society.

We in the West have been supremely fortunate in having been given our fair chance of making the great experiment in self-government. Unfortunately it now looks as though, owing to recent changes in our circumstances, this infinitely precious fair chance were being, little by little, taken away from us. And this, of course, is not the whole story. These blind impersonal forces are not the only enemies of individual liberty and democratic institutions. There are also forces of another, less ab­stract character, forces that can be deliberately used by power-seeking individuals whose aim is to establish partial or complete control over their fellows.

Fifty years ago, when I was a boy, it seemed completely self-evident that the bad old days were over, that torture and massacre, slavery, and the persecution of heretics, were things of the past. Among people who wore top hats, traveled in trains, and took a bath every morning such horrors were simply out of the question. After all, we were living in the twentieth century. A few years later these people who took daily baths and went to church in top hats were committing atrocities on a scale undreamed of by the benighted Africans and Asi­atics. In the light of recent history it would be foolish to suppose that this sort of thing cannot happen again. It can and, no doubt, it will. But in the immedi­ate future there is some reason to believe that the punitive methods of 1984 will give place to the rein­forcements and manipulations of Brave New World.

There are two kinds of propaganda -- rational propa­ganda in favor of action that is consonant with the enlightened self-interest of those who make it and those to whom it is addressed, and non-rational propa­ganda that is not consonant with anybody's enlight­ened self-interest, but is dictated by, and appeals to, passion. Where the actions of individuals are con­cerned there are motives more exalted than enlight­ened self-interest, but where collective action has to be taken in the fields of politics and economics, enlight­ened self-interest is probably the highest of effective motives. If politicians and their constituents always acted to promote their own or their country's long-range self-interest, this world would be an earthly paradise. As it is, they often act against their own inter­ests, merely to gratify their least creditable passions; the world, in consequence, is a place of misery. Propa­ganda in favor of action that is consonant with en­lightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguments based upon the best available evi­dence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in fa­vor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evi­dence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scape­goats, and by cunningly associating the lowest pas­sions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cyni­cal kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of reli­gious principle and patriotic duty.

Presentism-philosophy-time-illustration

Understanding Presenteism: The Here And Now Today

In John Dewey's words, "a renewal of faith in com­mon human nature, in its potentialities in general, and in its power in particular to respond to reason and truth, is a surer bulwark against totalitarianism than a demonstration of material success or a devout wor­ship of special legal and political forms." The power to respond to reason and truth exists in all of us. But so, unfortunately, does the tendency to respond to unrea­son and falsehood -- particularly in those cases where the falsehood evokes some enjoyable emotion, or where the appeal to unreason strikes some answering chord in the primitive, subhuman depths of our being. In certain fields of activity men have learned to respond to reason and truth pretty consistently. The authors of learned articles do not appeal to the passions of their fellow scientists and technologists. They set forth what, to the best of their knowledge, is the truth about some particular aspect of reality, they use reason to explain the facts they have observed and they support their point of view with arguments that appeal to reason in other people. All this is fairly easy in the fields of physical science and technology. It is much more difficult in the fields of politics and religion and ethics. Here the relevant facts often elude us. As for the meaning of the facts, that of course depends upon the particular system of ideas, in terms of which you choose to interpret them. And these are not the only difficulties that confront the rational truth-seeker. In public and in private life, it often happens that there is simply no time to collect the relevant facts or to weigh their significance. We are forced to act on insufficient evidence and by a light considerably less steady than that of logic. With the best will in the world, we cannot always be completely truthful or consistently rational. All that is in our power is to be as truthful and rational as circumstances permit us to be, and to respond as well as we can to the limited truth and imperfect reasonings offered for our consideration by others.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free," said Jefferson, "it expects what never was and never will be. . . . The people cannot be safe without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe." Across the Atlantic another passionate be­liever in reason was thinking about the same time, in almost precisely similar terms. Here is what John Stuart Mill wrote of his father, the utilitarian philoso­pher, James Mill: "So complete was his reliance upon the influence of reason over the minds of mankind, whenever it is allowed to reach them, that he felt as if all would be gained, if the whole population were able to read, and if all sorts of opinions were allowed to be addressed to them by word or in writing, and if by the suffrage they could nominate a legislature to give effect to the opinions they had adopted." All is safe, all would be gained! Once more we hear the note of eight­eenth-century optimism. Jefferson, it is true, was a realist as well as an optimist. He knew by bitter expe­rience that the freedom of the press can be shamefully abused. "Nothing," he declared, "can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper." And yet, he insisted (and we can only agree with him), "within the pale of truth, the press is a noble institution, equally the friend of science and civil liberty." Mass commu­nication, in a word, is neither good nor bad; it is simply a force and, like any other force, it can be used either well or ill. Used in one way, the press, the radio and the cinema are indispensable to the survival of democracy. Used in another way, they are among the most powerful weapons in the dictator's armory. In the field of mass communications as in almost every other field of enterprise, technological progress has hurt the Little Man and helped the Big Man. As lately as fifty years ago, every democratic country could boast of a great number of small journals and local newspapers. Thousands of country editors expressed thousands of independent opinions. Somewhere or other almost anybody could get almost anything printed. Today the press is still legally free; but most of the little papers have disappeared. The cost of wood-pulp, of modern printing machinery and of syndicated news is too high for the Little Man. In the totalitarian East there is political censorship, and the media of mass communication are controlled by the State. In the democratic West there is economic censorship and the media of mass communication are controlled by members of the Power Elite. Censorship by rising costs and the concentration of communication power in the hands of a few big concerns is less objectionable than State ownership and government propaganda; but certainly it is not something of which a Jeffersonian democrat could possibly approve.

In regard to propaganda the early advocates of uni­versal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democra­cies -- the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.

In the past most people never got a chance of fully satisfying this appetite. They might long for distrac­tions, but the distractions were not provided. Christmas came but once a year, feasts were "solemn and rare," there were few readers and very little to read, and the nearest approach to a neighborhood movie theater was the parish church, where the per­formances, though frequent, were somewhat monoto­nous. For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of entertain­ment -- from poetical dramas to gladiatorial fights, from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from con­certs to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop dis­traction now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the cinema. In Brave New World non-stop distractions of the most fascinating nature (the feelies, orgy-porgy, centrifugal bumble-puppy) are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and polit­ical situation. The other world of religion is different from the other world of entertainment; but they resem­ble one another in being most decidedly "not of this world." Both are distractions and, if lived in too con­tinuously, both can become, in Marx's phrase, "the opium of the people" and so a threat to freedom. Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by demo­cratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but some­where else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.

In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most part on repetition, suppression and rationaliza­tion -- the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationaliza­tion of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manip­ulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these tech­niques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrele­vance the rational propaganda essential to the mainten­ance of individual liberty and the survival of demo­cratic institutions.

The survival of democracy depends on the ability of large numbers of people to make realistic choices in the light of adequate information. A dictatorship, on the other hand, maintains itself by censoring or dis­torting the facts, and by appealing, not to reason, not to enlightened self-interest, but to passion and prej­udice, to the powerful "hidden forces," as Hitler called them, present in the unconscious depths of every hu­man mind.

In the West, democratic principles are proclaimed and many able and conscientious publicists do their best to supply electors with adequate information and to persuade them, by rational argument, to make realis­tic choices in the light of that information. All this is greatly to the good. But unfortunately propaganda in the Western democracies, above all in America, has two faces and a divided personality. In charge of the editorial department there is often a democratic Dr. Jekyll -- a propagandist who would be very happy to prove that John Dewey had been right about the abil­ity of human nature to respond to truth and reason. But this worthy man controls only a part of the machin­ery of mass communication. In charge of advertising we find an anti-democratic, because anti-rational, Mr. Hyde -- or rather a Dr. Hyde, for Hyde is now a Ph.D. in psychology and has a master's degree as well in the social sciences. This Dr. Hyde would be very unhappy indeed if everybody always lived up to John Dewey's faith in human nature. Truth and reason are Jekyll's affair, not his. Hyde is a motivation analyst, and his business is to study human weaknesses and failings, to investigate those unconscious desires and fears by which so much of men's conscious thinking and overt doing is determined. And he does this, not in the spirit of the moralist who would like to make people better, or of the physician who would like to improve their health, but simply in order to find out the best way to take advantage of their ignorance and to expolit their irrationality for the pecuniary benefit of his em­ployers. But after all, it may be argued, "capitalism is dead, consumerism is king" -- and consumerism re­quires the services of expert salesmen versed in all the arts (including the more insidious arts) of persuasion. Under a free enterprise system commercial propa­ganda by any and every means is absolutely indis­pensable. But the indispensable is not necessarily the desirable. What is demonstrably good in the sphere of economics may be far from good for men and women as voters or even as human beings. An earlier, more moralistic generation would have been profoundly shocked by the bland cynicism of the motivation ana­lysts. Today we read a book like Mr. Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders, and are more amused than horrified, more resigned than indignant. Given Freud, given Behaviorism, given the mass producer's chroni­cally desperate need for mass consumption, this is the sort of thing that is only to be expected. But what, we may ask, is the sort of thing that is to be expected in the future? Are Hyde's activities compatible in the long run with Jekyll's? Can a campaign in favor of rationality be successful in the teeth of another and even more vigorous campaign in favor of irra­tionality? These are questions which, for the mo­ment, I shall not attempt to answer, but shall leave hanging, so to speak, as a backdrop to our discussion of the methods of mass persuasion in a technologically advanced democratic society.

The task of the commercial propagandist in a democ­racy is in some ways easier and in some ways more difficult than that of a political propagandist employed by an established dictator or a dictator in the making. It is easier inasmuch as almost everyone starts out with a prejudice in favor of beer, cigarettes and ice­boxes, whereas almost nobody starts out with a prej­udice in favor of tyrants. It is more difficult inasmuch as the commercial propagandist is not permitted, by the rules of his particular game, to appeal to the more savage instincts of his public. The advertiser of dairy products would dearly love to tell his readers and lis­teners that all their troubles are caused by the mach­inations of a gang of godless international marga­rine manufacturers, and that it is their patriotic duty to march out and burn the oppressors' factories. This sort of thing, however, is ruled out, and he must be content with a milder approach. But the mild approach is less exciting than the approach through verbal or physical violence. In the long run, anger and hatred are self-defeating emotions. But in the short run they pay high dividends in the form of psychological and even (since they release large quantities of adrenalin and noradrenalin) physiological satisfaction. People may start out with an initial prejudice against tyrants; but when tyrants or would-be tyrants treat them to adrenalin-releasing propaganda about the wickedness of their enemies -- particularly of enemies weak enough to be persecuted -- they are ready to fol­low him with enthusiasm. In his speeches Hitler kept repeating such words as "hatred," "force," "ruthless," "crush," "smash"; and he would accompany these vio­lent words with even more violent gestures. He would yell, he would scream, his veins would swell, his face would turn purple. Strong emotion (as every actor and dramatist knows) is in the highest degree contagious. Infected by the malignant frenzy of the orator, the audience would groan and sob and scream in an orgy of uninhibited passion. And these orgies were so en­joyable that most of those who had experienced them eagerly came back for more. Almost all of us long for peace and freedom; but very few of us have much enthusiasm for the thoughts, feelings and actions that make for peace and freedom. Conversely almost nobody wants war or tyranny; but a great many people find an intense pleasure in the thoughts, feelings and ac­tions that make for war and tyranny. These thoughts, feelings and actions are too dangerous to be exploited for commercial purposes. Accepting this handicap, the advertising man must do the best he can with the less intoxicating emotions, the quieter forms of irrational­ity.

Effective rational propaganda becomes possible only when there is a clear understanding, on the part of all concerned, of the nature of symbols and of their rela­tions to the things and events symbolized. Irrational propaganda depends for its effectiveness on a general failure to understand the nature of symbols. Simple-minded people tend to equate the symbol with what it stands for, to attribute to things and events some of the qualities expressed by the words in terms of which the propagandist has chosen, for his own purposes, to talk about them. Consider a simple example. Most cos­metics are made of lanolin, which is a mixture of purified wool fat and water beaten up into an emulsion. This emulsion has many valuable properties: it penetrates the skin, it does not become rancid, it is mildly antiseptic and so forth. But the commercial prop­agandists do not speak about the genuine virtues of the emulsion. They give it some picturesquely volup­tuous name, talk ecstatically and misleadingly about feminine beauty and show pictures of gorgeous blondes nourishing their tissues with skin food. "The cosmetic manufacturers," one of their number has written, "are not selling lanolin, they are selling hope." For this hope, this fraudulent implication of a promise that they will be transfigured, women will pay ten or twenty times the value of the emulsion which the propagandists have so skilfully related, by means of misleading symbols, to a deep-seated and almost universal feminine wish -- the wish to be more attrac­tive to members of the opposite sex. The principles underlying this kind of propaganda are extremely sim­ple. Find some common desire, some widespread uncon­scious fear or anxiety; think out some way to relate this wish or fear to the product you have to sell; then build a bridge of verbal or pictorial symbols over which your customer can pass from fact to compensa­tory dream, and from the dream to the illusion that your product, when purchased, will make the dream come true. "We no longer buy oranges, we buy vitality. We do not buy just an auto, we buy prestige." And so with all the rest. In toothpaste, for example, we buy, not a mere cleanser and antiseptic, but release from the fear of being sexually repulsive. In vodka and whisky we are not buying a protoplasmic poison which in small doses, may depress the nervous system in a psychologically valuable way; we are buying friendli­ness and good fellowship, the warmth of Dingley Dell and the brilliance of the Mermaid Tavern. With our laxatives we buy the health of a Greek god, the radi­ance of one of Diana's nymphs. With the monthly best seller we acquire culture, the envy of our less literate neighbors and the respect of the sophisticated. In every case the motivation analyst has found some deep-seated wish or fear, whose energy can be used to move the consumer to part with cash and so, indirectly, to turn the wheels of industry. Stored in the minds and bodies of countless individuals, this po­tential energy is released by, and transmitted along, a line of symbols carefully laid out so as to bypass ra­tionality and obscure the real issue.

In commercial propaganda the principle of the disproportionately fascinating symbol is clearly under­stood. Every propagandist has his Art Department, and attempts are constantly being made to beautify the billboards with striking posters, the advertising pages of magazines with lively drawings and photo­graphs. There are no masterpieces; for masterpieces appeal only to a limited audience, and the commercial propagandist is out to captivate the majority. For him, the ideal is a moderate excellence. Those who like this not too good, but sufficiently striking, art may be ex­pected to like the products with which it has been associated and for which it symbolically stands.

Mind And Thought Changes...

Brainwashing

In the two preceding chapters I have described the techniques of what may be called wholesale mind-ma­nipulation, as practiced by the greatest demagogue and the most successful salesmen in recorded history. But no human problem can be solved by wholesale methods alone. The shotgun has its place, but so has the hypo­dermic syringe. In the chapters that follow I shall describe some of the more effective techniques for ma­nipulating not crowds, not entire publics, but isolated individuals.

In the course of his epoch-making experiments on the conditioned reflex, Ivan Pavlov observed that, when subjected to prolonged physical or psychic stress, laboratory animals exhibit all the symptoms of a nervous breakdown. Refusing to cope any longer with the intolerable situation, their brains go on strike, so to speak, and either stop working altogether (the dog loses consciousness), or else resort to slow­downs and sabotage (the dog behaves unrealistically, or develops the kind of physical symptoms which, in a human being, we would call hysterical). Some animals are more resistant to stress than others. Dogs possess­ing what Pavlov called a "strong excitatory" constitution break down much more quickly than dogs of a merely "lively" (as opposed to a choleric or agitated) temperament. Similarly "weak inhibitory" dogs reach the end of their tether much sooner than do "calm imperturbable" dogs. But even the most stoical dog is unable to resist indefinitely. If the stress to which he is subjected is sufficiently intense or sufficiently pro­longed, he will end by breaking down as abjectly and as completely as the weakest of his kind.

Pavlov's findings were confirmed in the most dis­tressing manner, and on a very large scale, during the two World Wars. As the result of a single catastrophic experience, or of a succession of terrors less appalling but frequently repeated, soldiers develop a number of disabling psychophysical symptoms. Temporary unconsciousness, extreme agitation, lethargy, functional blindness or paralysis, completely unrealistic responses to the challenge of events, strange reversals of lifelong patterns of behavior -- all the symptoms, which Pavlov observed in his dogs, reappeared among the victims of what in the First World War was called "shell shock," in the Second, "battle fatigue." Every man, like every dog, has his own individual limit of endurance. Most men reach their limit after about thirty days of more or less continuous stress under the conditions of mod­ern combat. The more than averagely susceptible suc­cumb in only fifteen days. The more than averagely tough can resist for forty-five or even fifty days. Strong or weak, in the long run all of them break down. All, that is to say, of those who are initially sane. For, ironically enough, the only people who can hold up indefinitely under the stress of modern war are psychotics. Individual insanity is immune to the consequences of collective insanity.

The fact that every individual has his breaking point has been known and, in a crude unscientific way, exploited from time immemorial. In some cases man's dreadful inhumanity to man has been inspired by the love of cruelty for its own horrible and fascinating sake. More often, however, pure sadism was tempered by utilitarianism, theology or reasons of state. Physi­cal torture and other forms of stress were inflicted by lawyers in order to loosen the tongues of reluctant witnesses; by clergymen in order to punish the unor­thodox and induce them to change their opinions; by the secret police to extract confessions from persons suspected of being hostile to the government. Under Hitler, torture, followed by mass extermination, was used on those biological heretics, the Jews. For a young Nazi, a tour of duty in the Extermination Camps was (in Himmler's words) "the best indoctrina­tion on inferior beings and the subhuman races." Given the obsessional quality of the anti-Semitism which Hitler had picked up as a young man in the slums of Vienna, this revival of the methods employed by the Holy Office against heretics and witches was inevitable. But in the light of the findings of Pavlov and of the knowledge gained by psychiatrists in the treatment of war neuroses, it seems a hideous and grotesque anachronism. Stresses amply sufficient to cause a complete cerebral breakdown can be induced by methods which, though hatefully inhuman, fall short of physical torture.

Whatever may have happened in earlier years, it seems fairly certain that torture is not extensively used by the Communist police today. They draw their inspiration, not from the Inquisitor or the SS man, but from the physiologist and his methodically condi­tioned laboratory animals. For the dictator and his policemen, Pavlov's findings have important practical implications. If the central nervous system of dogs can be broken down, so can the central nervous system of political prisoners. It is simply a matter of applying the right amount of stress for the right length of time. At the end of the treatment, the prisoner will be in a state of neurosis or hysteria, and will be ready to confess whatever his captors want him to confess.

But confession is not enough. A hopeless neurotic is no use to anyone. What the intelligent and practical dictator needs is not a patient to be institutionalized, or a victim to be shot, but a convert who will work for the Cause. Turning once again to Pavlov, he learns that, on their way to the point of final breakdown, dogs become more than normally suggestible. New be­havior patterns can easily be installed while the dog is at or near the limit of its cerebral endurance, and these new behavior patterns seem to be ineradicable. The animal in which they have been implanted cannot be deconditioned; that which it has learned under stress will remain an integral part of its make-up.

Psychological stresses can be produced in many ways. Dogs become disturbed when stimuli are unu­sually strong; when the interval between a stimulus and the customary response is unduly prolonged and the animal is left in a state of suspense; when the brain is confused by stimuli that run counter to what the dog has learned to expect; when stimuli make no sense within the victim's established frame of ref­erence. Furthermore, it has been found that the de­liberate induction of fear, rage or anxiety markedly heightens the dog's suggestibility. If these emotions are kept at a high pitch of intensity for a long enough time, the brain goes "on strike." When this happens, new behavior patterns may be installed with the great­est of ease.

Among the physical stresses that increase a dog's suggestibility are fatigue, wounds and every form of sickness.

For the would-be dictator these findings possess important practical implications. They prove, for example, that Hitler was quite right in maintaining that mass meetings at night were more effective than mass meetings in the daytime. During the day, he wrote, "man's will power revolts with highest energy against any attempt at being forced under another's will and another's opinion. In the evening, however, they succumb more easily to the dominating force of a stronger will."

Pavlov would have agreed with him; fatigue in­creases suggestibility. (That is why, among other rea­sons, the commercial sponsors of television programs prefer the evening hours and are ready to back their preference with hard cash.)

Illness is even more effective than fatigue as an intensifier of suggestibility. In the past, sickrooms were the scene of countless religious conversions. The scientifically trained dictator of the future will have all the hospitals in his dominions wired for sound and equipped with pillow speakers. Canned persuasion will be on the air twenty-four hours a day, and the more important patients will be visited by political soul-savers and mind-changers just as, in the past, their ancestors were visited by priests, nuns and pious lay­men.

The fact that strong negative emotions tend to heighten suggestibility and so facilitate a change of heart had been observed and exploited long before the days of Pavlov. As Dr. William Sargant has pointed out in his enlightening book, Battle for the Mind, John Wesley's enormous success as a preacher was based upon an intuitive understanding of the central nervous system. He would open his sermon with a long and detailed description of the torments to which, un­less they underwent conversion, his hearers would un­doubtedly be condemned for all eternity. Then, when terror and an agonizing sense of guilt had brought his audience to the verge, or in some cases over the verge, of a complete cerebral breakdown, he would change his tone and promise salvation to those who believed and repented. By this kind of preaching, Wesley converted thousands of men, women and children. Intense, pro­longed fear broke them down and produced a state of greatly intensified suggestibility. In this state they were able to accept the preacher's theological pro­nouncements without question. After which they were reintegrated by words of comfort, and emerged from their ordeal with new and generally better behavior patterns ineradicably implanted in their minds and nervous systems.

The effectiveness of political and religious propa­ganda depends upon the methods employed, not upon the doctrines taught. These doctrines may be true or false, wholesome or pernicious -- it makes little or no difference. If the indoctrination is given in the right way at the proper stage of nervous exhaustion, it will work. Under favorable conditions, practically every­body can be converted to practically anything.

We possess detailed descriptions of the methods used by the Communist police for dealing with polit­ical prisoners. From the moment he is taken into custody, the victim is subjected systematically to many kinds of physical and psychological stress. He is badly fed, he is made extremely uncomfortable, he is not allowed to sleep for more than a few hours each night. And all the time he is kept in a state of suspense, uncertainty and acute apprehension. Day after day -- or rather night after night, for these Pavlovian police­men understand the value of fatigue as an intensifier of suggestibility -- he is questioned, often for many hours at a stretch, by interrogators who do their best to frighten, confuse and bewilder him. After a few weeks or months of such treatment, his brain goes on strike and he confesses whatever it is that his captors want him to confess. Then, if he is to be converted rather than shot, he is offered the comfort of hope. If he will but accept the true faith, he can yet be saved -- not, of course, in the next life (for, officially, there is no next life), but in this.

Similar but rather less drastic methods were used during the Korean War on military prisoners. In their Chinese camps the young Western captives were systematically subjected to stress. Thus, for the most trivial breaches of the rules, offenders would be sum­moned to the commandant's office, there to be ques­tioned, browbeaten and publicly humiliated. And the process would be repeated, again and again, at any hour of the day or night. This continuous harassment produced in its victims a sense of bewilderment and chronic anxiety. To intensify their sense of guilt, pris­oners were made to write and rewrite, in ever more intimate detail, long autobiographical accounts of their shortcomings. And after having confessed their own sins, they were required to confess the sins of their companions. The aim was to create within the camp a nightmarish society, in which everybody was spying on, and informing against, everyone else. To these mental stresses were added the physical stresses of malnutrition, discomfort and illness. The increased suggestibility thus induced was skilfully exploited by the Chinese, who poured into these abnormally recep­tive minds large doses of pro-Communist and anti-capi­talist literature. These Pavlovian techniques were re­markably successful. One out of every seven American prisoners was guilty, we are officially told, of grave collaboration with the Chinese authorities, one out of three of technical collaboration.

It must not be supposed that this kind of treatment is reserved by the Communists exclusively for their enemies. The young field workers, whose business it was, during the first years of the new regime, to act as Communist missionaries and organizers in China's in­numerable towns and villages were made to take a course of indoctrination far more intense than that to which any prisoner of war was ever subjected. In his China under Communism R. L. Walker describes the methods by which the party leaders are able to fabri­cate out of ordinary men and women the thousands of selfless fanatics required for spreading the Communist gospel and for enforcing Communist policies. Under this system of training, the human raw material is shipped to special camps, where the trainees are com­pletely isolated from their friends, families and the outside world in general. In these camps they are made to perform exhausting physical and mental work; they are never alone, always in groups; they are encouraged to spy on one another; they are required to write self-accusatory autobiographies; they live in chronic fear of the dreadful fate that may befall them on account of what has been said about them by in­formers or of what they themselves have confessed. In this state of heightened suggestibility they are given an intensive course in theoretical and applied Marxism -- a course in which failure to pass examinations may mean anything from ignominious expulsion to a term in a forced labor camp or even liquidation. After about six months of this kind of thing, prolonged mental and physical stress produces the results which Pavlov's findings would lead one to expect. One after another, or in whole groups, the trainees break down. Neurotic and hysterical symptoms make their appearance. Some of the victims commit suicide, others (as many, we are told, as 20 per cent of the total) develop a severe mental illness. Those who survive the rigors of the conversion process emerge with new and ineradicable behavior patterns. All their ties with the past -- friends, family, traditional decencies and pieties -- have been severed. They are new men, re-created in the im­age of their new god and totally dedicated to his serv­ice.

Throughout the Communist world tens of thousands of these disciplined and devoted young men are being turned out every year from hundreds of conditioning centers. What the Jesuits did for the Roman Church of the Counter Reformation, these products of a more scientific and even harsher training are now doing, and will doubtless continue to do, for the Communist parties of Europe, Asia and Africa.

In politics Pavlov seems to have been an old-fash­ioned liberal. But, by a strange irony of fate, his re­searches and the theories he based upon them have called into existence a great army of fanatics dedi­cated heart and soul, reflex and nervous system, to the destruction of old-fashioned liberalism, wherever it can be found.

Brainwashing, as it is now practiced, is a hybrid technique, depending for its effectiveness partly on the systematic use of violence, partly on skilful psychologi­cal manipulation. It represents the tradition of 1984 on its way to becoming the tradition of Brave New World. Under a long-established and well-regulated dic­tatorship our current methods of semiviolent manipula­tion will seem, no doubt, absurdly crude. Conditioned from earliest infancy (and perhaps also biologically predestined), the average middle- or lower-caste indi­vidual will never require conversion or even a re­fresher course in the true faith. The members of the highest caste will have to be able to think new thoughts in response to new situations; consequently their training will be much less rigid than the train­ing imposed upon those whose business is not to rea­son why, but merely to do and die with the minimum of fuss. These upper-caste individuals will be mem­bers, still, of a wild species -- the trainers and guard­ians, themselves only slightly conditioned, of a breed of completely domesticated animals. Their wildness will make it possible for them to become heretical and rebellious. When this happens, they will have to be either liquidated, or brainwashed back into orthodoxy, or (as in Brave New World) exiled to some island, where they can give no further trouble, except of course to one another. But universal infant condition­ing and the other techniques of manipulation and con­trol are still a few generations away in the future. On the road to the Brave New World our rulers will have to rely on the transitional and provisional techniques of brainwashing.

Consumer Society - Insane Society

“Most of one's life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself from thinking. People intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are.” -   Aldous Huxley
“Most of one's life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself from thinking. People intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are.” - Aldous Huxley

Being Brave In A New Tech World..

We learn about The Huxlean Media/Communication musings from the following article written by James Quinn:

Aldous Huxley wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World in 1931 at the inauguration of the last Crisis period in America. Dystopia is the often futuristic vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain. The novel was his response to the writings of H.G. Wells (Men Like Gods) and George Bernard Shaw which glorified socialism and a one World State. Orwell’s 1984, written in 1948, is the other famous dystopian novel of the era. Huxley had visited America during the Roaring 20’s and his experience provided the character for the novel. He was outraged by America’s out of control materialistic egocentric society. He witnessed youthful superficiality, commercialization, sexual promiscuity, and a self centered culture. Fellow writer G.K. Chesterton explained his view of Huxley’s novel:

“After the Age of Utopias came what we may call the American Age, lasting as long as the Boom. Men like Ford or Mond seemed to many to have solved the social riddle and made capitalism the common good. But it was not native to us; it went with a buoyant, not to say blatant optimism, which is not our negligent or negative optimism. Much more than Victorian righteousness, or even Victorian self-righteousness, that optimism has driven people into pessimism. For the Slump brought even more disillusionment than the War. A new bitterness, and a new bewilderment, ran through all social life, and was reflected in all literature and art. It was contemptuous, not only of the old Capitalism, but of the old Socialism. Brave New World is more of a revolt against Utopia than against Victoria.”

Using Technology to Control Society

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” - Aldous Huxley.

Science and technology are not inherently good or bad. They can be used or misused. They offer promise or peril. Ultimately, humanity can benefit from science and technology or it can be detrimental to our planet. Huxley envisioned a horrifying future where mankind used science and technology in a self destructive manner. He was disillusioned with the decadence of society and disgusted by the behavior of his class. Huxley’s outlook is a world where the vast majority of the populace is united under one World State. The world is restricted to two billion inhabitants. The inhabitants are strictly divided into five castes. The world is controlled by Alphas and their subordinates, Betas. Below them, in descending order of brainpower and physique, are Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Each caste is further subdivided into Plus and Minus (save for Epsilons, which are regular or semi-moron). Reproductive technology, referred to as the Bokanovsky Process, is used by the government (Alphas & Betas) to manage the number of human beings and their functions. The process is applied to fertilized human eggs in-vitro, causing them to split into identical genetic copies of the original. The State has eliminated procreation by loving couples. Ovaries are surgically removed from women. The lower caste children are created in hatcheries.

At the very pinnacle of society sit Alpha Double-Pluses, who serve as the future scientists and top administrators of the world. People in different castes are conditioned to be happy in their own way – they do not feel resentment towards other castes, but rather feel a slight contempt for people not members of their own caste. The upper castes are intelligent, and have managerial jobs, where as the lower castes do the manual labor. The Alpha's have what we would consider the best jobs, and it continues down until the Epsilons, who have the least skilled jobs. The Alphas are tall and fair, while the Epsilons are dark skinned.

The novel takes place in the year 2540 in London. The disturbing aspect is that we are now in the year 2009 and much of Huxley’s vision has come to fruition. At the heart of the World State’s control of its population is its rigid control over sexual mores and reproductive rights. Reproductive rights are controlled through an authoritarian system that sterilizes about two-thirds of women, requires the rest to use contraceptives, and surgically removes ovaries when it needs to produce new humans. The act of sex is controlled by a system of social rewards for promiscuity and lack of commitment. The United States has restricted population growth through a number of methods. Abortion on demand was made the law of the land in 1973. Since that date 50 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. I ask myself how many Martin Luther Kings, Stephen Hawkings, and Ernest Hemingways have been among those aborted before having the chance to positively impact our world.

"We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early success of science, but in a rather grisly morning after, when it has become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve the means for achieving unimportant or actually deteriorated ends." - Aldous Huxley

The upper classes in the U.S. have persuaded the lower classes to restrict their reproduction. They promote non-consequential promiscuity among the other classes while reproducing and raising the new ruling class. American society is also segmented into castes as portrayed by Huxley. The Alpha Double-Pluses are the Harvard MBAs running Goldman Sachs and the other mega-banks. Others in the Alpha caste are the Bushes, Kennedys, Rockefellers, Clintons, Gores, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Paul Krugman. The Betas include Congressmen, bank executives, government bureaucrats, military leaders, and corporate executives. The Gammas and Deltas are the working classes that do the hard work without ever advancing. The Epsilons are the morons produced by the inner city public school system. They fill the non-thinking manual labor jobs of society.

The Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are brought up in conditioning centers. The Alphas and the Betas use technology to mould them into their predetermined roles in society. They use operant conditioning and sleep teaching to modify the behavior of the lower castes. Hatcheries rely on machines to condition bottled embryos to heat, sudden motion, and disease, allowing the embryos to fulfill their predestined jobs in specific climates. The science exists today to produce whatever traits are desired in our children. The procedure is called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and is being practiced in fertility clinics in the U.S.

Those in control of America also use conditioning and teaching to keep the lower classes in their place. The ruling elite send their children to exclusive private schools, grooming them for Harvard, Yale and Stanford. This guarantees they will be given the high level positions in business and government. After decades of pumping billions of tax dollars into public schools while instituting politically correct diversity programs to dumb down the curriculum, the ruling elite have conditioned a vast swath of Americans to care more about Tiger Woods’ driving and night putting skills than about the National Debt or the insidiousness of Federal Reserve induced inflation.

Just as in Brave New World, the ruling Alphas are White and the lowest class Epsilons are dark skinned. Blacks and Hispanics represent 50% of all the high school dropouts even though they only make up 25% of the population. This guarantees a life of blue-collar low paying jobs for these people. Whites obtain 78% of the advanced degrees, guaranteeing them the positions of leadership in society. The social welfare state implemented by the ruling elite provides enough sustenance to the lower classes to keep them anesthetized, ignorant and easily manipulated. Whites also obtain 77% of the bachelor’s degrees, assuring that they will fill the Beta administrator positions in society.
Another technological method of keeping the masses tranquilized and distracted in the Brave New World is through high tech sports and entertainment. Sport is a pillar of the World State consisting of various games and activities which use high-tech equipment. Another key aspect of entertainment is the "feelies". Users rest their hands on metal knobs protruding from the arms of their chair, allowing them to feel the physical sensations of the actors on-screen (usually in sexually-themed films). The mass production of HDTVs, CD players, Laptop computers, Blackberries, iPhones, iPods, luxury automobiles and other electronic toys distributed to the masses through easy credit policies has successfully distracted the populace from the pillaging of the country by the Alphas at Goldman Sachs. The feelies of today are 24 hour cable TV with 600 stations, downloadable movies, an unlimited amount of free porn on the internet, strip joints, and prostitution. Sports addicts can attend baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, wrestling, boxing, auto racing, and Michael Vick sponsored dog fighting events year round, or watch it on TV 24 hours per day. With mindless jobs and unlimited distractions, the preponderance of citizens are as docile as sheep.
Soma is a biological method used by the Alphas to keep the lower castes sedated. It is a drug that provides an easy escape from the hassles of daily life and is employed by the government as a method of control through pleasure. It is ubiquitous and ordinary among the culture of the novel and everyone is shown to use it at some point, in various situations: sex, relaxation, concentration, confidence. It is seemingly a single-chemical combination of many of today's drugs' effects, giving its users the full hedonistic spectrum depending on dosage. As a kind of “sacrament,” it also represents the use of religion to control society. Huxley’s description of soma reveals its power:
“And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is.”
American leaders bluster about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, but their actions speak otherwise. Americans can sedate themselves legally with alcohol, over the counter prescriptions, and tobacco. Almost 10% of the entire U.S. population, or 27 million people, are taking anti-depressant pills. Over 4 million children are being drugged with Ritalin every day to make them malleable. The government looks the other way as the middle class uses marijuana, heroine, and cocaine. The Epsilons (Blacks & Hispanics) on the other hand are prosecuted, with 2.3 million of them occupying cells in the thousands of prisons in the U.S. There are thousands of churches in the U.S. preaching the good word and sedating the masses. As they preach morality and sacrifice, there have been recurring instances of sexual deviation covered up church hierarchy and the bilking of congregations out of millions in contributions for the enrichment of the church leaders.

“Most of one's life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself from thinking. People intoxicate themselves with work so they won't see how they really are.” - Aldous Huxley

Huxley formulated his dystopian world after observing the excessiveness of Americans during the Roaring 20’s. If he thought things were decadent and Americans were self consumed in the 1920’s, Huxley’s head would explode at the debauchery, ignorance materialism, and shallowness of Americans today. Our landfills contain more wealth than entire Third World countries. We throw away over 100 billion pounds of edible food per year. In his Brave New World Revisited, written in 1958, Huxley clearly laid out the dangers of consumerism:
“Consumerism re­quires the services of expert salesmen versed in all the arts (including the more insidious arts) of persuasion. Under a free enterprise system commercial propa­ganda by any and every means is absolutely indis­pensable. But the indispensable is not necessarily the desirable. What is demonstrably good in the sphere of economics may be far from good for men and women as voters or even as human beings.”

“Consider a simple example. Most cos­metics are made of lanolin, which is a mixture of purified wool fat and water beaten up into an emulsion. This emulsion has many valuable properties: it penetrates the skin, it does not become rancid, it is mildly antiseptic and so forth. But the commercial prop­agandists do not speak about the genuine virtues of the emulsion. They give it some picturesquely volup­tuous name, talk ecstatically and misleadingly about feminine beauty and show pictures of gorgeous blondes nourishing their tissues with skin food. "The cosmetic manufacturers," one of their number has written, "are not selling lanolin, they are selling hope." For this hope, this fraudulent implication of a promise that they will be transfigured, women will pay ten or twenty times the value of the emulsion which the propagandists have so skilfully related, by means of misleading symbols, to a deep-seated and almost universal feminine wish -- the wish to be more attrac­tive to members of the opposite sex. The principles underlying this kind of propaganda are extremely sim­ple. Find some common desire, some widespread uncon­scious fear or anxiety; think out some way to relate this wish or fear to the product you have to sell; then build a bridge of verbal or pictorial symbols over which your customer can pass from fact to compensa­tory dream, and from the dream to the illusion that your product, when purchased, will make the dream come true.”
Our economic advancement has been marketed to Americans as “true happiness from consumption”. Every need can be realized through material gain. Success as a society is measured by GDP growth and the facade of prosperity. In Brave New World children are conditioned from birth to value consumption with such platitudes as "ending is better than mending," which means buy a new one instead of fixing the old one. America has become the definitive throwaway society. Product waste has grown from 92 pounds per person per year in 1905 to 1,242 pounds per person per year in 2005. American human beings are lumped into the category of consumers by the mainstream media. Consumerism and consumer debt have been the contaminated lifeblood of the United States for the last three decades. Government actively promotes gambling by the poor, offering them false hope for riches. Americans squander $160 billion per year on lotteries and in casinos. Our society has become even more extreme than the Brave New World as we have outsourced our production to foreign countries, thereby gutting our economy. Even at the dawn of television Huxley realized the immense power for propagandists:

“Thanks to compulsory education and the rotary press, the propagandist has been able, for many years past, to convey his messages to virtually every adult in every civilized country. Today, thanks to radio and television, he is in the happy position of being able to communicate even with unschooled adults and not yet literate children.”

The mass media is owned and controlled by mega-corporations run by the Alphas of our society. Colleges graduate thousands of people with the skills to manipulate the uninformed masses through advertising and propaganda. What passes for news organizations are just propaganda machines for a particular point of view. The public is distracted by the seemingly major differences between the two main political parties. The reality is that both parties are controlled by banking and corporate interests who pay for the laws that benefit their interests. Huxley’s description of political candidates in 1958 is even truer today:

“The methods now being used to merchan­dise the political candidate as though he were a deo­dorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.”

News people must be beautiful and entertainment is indispensable. They provide the people what they want – 24 hour coverage of Tiger Woods’ sex life, weeks of reporting about Michael Jackson’s death, and 10 seconds about the $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities we are leaving future generations. Truth is an inconvenience in the consumer society.

Incompatibility of Happiness & Truth

“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” - Aldous Huxley..

“Give me a McMansion” - Americans

Mustapha Mond, World State Controller, believes that the population is better off with happiness than truth. In the Brave New World happiness is represented by immediate gratification of every citizen’s desire for food, sex, drugs, nice clothes, and other consumer trinkets. If the proletariats think they are happy, they won’t need to think or question reality. The World State cannot allow individuality to blossom. Free thinking individuals seek the truth. Spending time alone is considered an outrageous waste of time and money. Confession to a craving for individuality is shocking, horrifying, and embarrassing. John, the savage, grew up outside the World State and has studied Shakespeare. Everything that Shakespeare stood for: passion, love, intensity, seeking truth, relationships, and tragic endings, are at odds with the World State foundation. They cannot allow truth and true human happiness to exist in society or the Alphas will lose control.

The United States is the richest most powerful country in the history of the world. Our poorest live better than the aristocracy lived 100 years ago. We have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, heaters, clean water, automobiles, trains, jet airplanes, televisions, CD players, portable gadgets galore, free public education, fast food, gyms to work off the fast food, movies, the internet, restaurants, bars, concerts, sporting events, casinos, home improvement stores, grocery stores, discount stores, Wal-Mart, clothes stores, jewelry stores, dollar stores, churches, Disney World, Las Vegas, and Graceland. These are the “things” that are supposed to make Americans happy. Going into the woods alone, like Thoreau, to think is frowned upon. The propagandists sell the American public happiness in the form of material goods and services. If you don’t feel happy, take a pill. If you aren’t happy with your appearance have plastic surgery. If your spouse isn’t making you happy, cheat or get a divorce and try again. If your neighbor outdoes you by getting a $20,000 kitchen remodel, get yourself a $40,000 kitchen remodel. Happiness is a 6,000 sq ft McMansion with 5 bathrooms, a pool, game room, and Jacuzzi for your family of three. Having your neighbors see you driving a BMW 750Li will surely make you happy. Wearing a Rolex will definitely make you happy. If you die with the most toys, you’re still dead. Until reading a book to your three year old at bedtime is valued more than staying at the office until 10:00 pm to complete an investment offering, our society is destined for decline. Ours is not to reason why, but simply to do and die with a bare minimum of fuss.

In the Brave New World the policies of the State dehumanize the population. Stability and artificially induced happiness are more imperative than humanity and truth. Mustapha Mond explains to John that social stability has required the sacrifice of art, science, and religion. John protests that, without these things, human life is not worth living. After John eventually succumbs to the lure of the World State version of happiness, he hangs himself. An ending truly worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. The pillars of our society are based upon the acquisition of material possessions using debt. Our society glorifies steroid taking athletes, sex crazed sports icons, drugged out entertainment personalities, vacuous TV housewives, and moronic cosmetically enhanced movie stars. Those who seek truth through questioning the status quo or digging for answers to questions the State doesn’t want asked, risk alienation and scorn. The Alphas (bankers) of our society issue the debt and convince the masses that accumulating more stuff will make them happy. The Alphas (media titans) use their mass media to persuade, manipulate, and sell their message of material happiness to the masses. The Alphas (politicians) use the taxes collected from the masses and the dollars printed by the bankers to distribute social welfare benefits to the lower classes, keeping them sedated and under control. Seeking the truth through the study of literature, the questioning of authority, and pondering of our existence on this earth are rare. Those who question and doubt the propaganda put out by those in authority are shunned and denigrated as being unpatriotic.

“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know.”- Aldous Huxley

Dangers of an All-Powerful State
“Freedom is therefore a great good, tolerance a great virtue and regimentation a great misfortune. Meanwhile there is still some freedom left in the world. Many young people, it is true, do not seem to value freedom. But some of us still believe that, with­out freedom, human beings cannot become fully hu­man and that freedom is therefore supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them.” - Aldous Huxley..

The all powerful State in Brave New World uses technology and mind control starting before birth until death to instruct people what they want. Power over the citizens is maintained by lulling them into a false sense of happiness and contentment to the point where personal freedom and thinking are unnecessary. Superficiality is encouraged by the World Controllers. The consequences of citizens rolling over to the rulers are a loss of dignity, morals, values, and emotions—in short, a loss of humanity. Amazingly, this book was written in 1931. Huxley’s vision, which seemed so outrageous in 1931, has come to fruition in less than 70 years, versus the 600 years in the novel. Huxley realized that technological advances which are almost universally hailed as progress are fraught with danger. Man has built higher than he can climb; man has unleashed power he is unable to control. Brave New World is Huxley's warning to make man realize that since knowledge is power, he who manages and exploits knowledge exerts the authority. Science and technology should be the servants of man - man should not be adapted and enslaved to them.

In the novel the "Nine Years' War" broke out in 2049 AD. It can be deduced that the conflict broke out in Europe, affected most of the planet, and caused enormous physical damage. It is repeatedly stated that chemical and biological weapons were broadly used during the war, particularly in mass air-raids against cities. Following the war the global economy collapsed and created an unprecedented worldwide economic crisis. Realizing that they could not force people to adopt the new lifestyle, the World Controllers instead united the planet into the One World State and began a nonviolent movement of change. This campaign included the closing of museums, the suppression of almost all literature published before 2059 AD, and the destruction of the few historical world monuments that had survived the Nine Years' War. The type of war described in the novel is a very feasible scenario in our current environment. It is interesting that a worldwide economic crisis was the trigger for a One World Government. Our current worldwide economic crisis has resulted in our Federal Reserve propping up European banks with U.S. taxpayer funds and unprecedented coordination between worldwide fiscal policies.

Huxley wrote his novel in 1931 at the outset of the Great Depression. His vision did not take long to crystallize. FDR initiated social programs on a vast scale to satiate the masses with manual labor government created jobs and social services that encouraged reliance upon the state at the expense of freedom and liberty. His nightmare world became more of a reality after World War II as progressives were successful in creating the United Nations, NATO, World Bank, IMF, Bretton Woods system, and GATT. These organizations reduced the freedom of individual countries to the benefit of worldwide bureaucracies. These organizations have gained power over time, but their total incompetence and ineffectiveness has kept them from gaining total control over world populations.

We are now at a crucial juncture as the worldwide financial crisis and the sham global warming crisis are being used by the New World Order crowd to confiscate more of our freedoms and liberties. Socialist minded world leaders Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, along with the revered Henry Kissinger have referenced a New World Order while offering their Keynesian spending solutions to the worldwide financial crisis. A number of Obama advisors have written they support a one world government. The Copenhagen Conference on Global Warming has drawn thousands of one world government apostles. They want to use the scientifically unproven environmental crisis as a way to impose worldwide taxes on sovereign nations and to compel the citizens of the world to honor their green agenda. The use of propaganda in our school systems to scare children by telling them that polar bears are all dying, is part of their plan. Again, the subtle use of media and propaganda to influence the thinking of the willfully ignorant public has worked.

Dystopian Nation

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” - Aldous Huxley..

When I started this article I was unsure whether Huxley’s nightmare would resonate in our current reality. Sadly, much of his novel applies to our society. Even sadder, our society now resembles an amalgamation of the two most famous dystopian novels in history: 1984 and Brave New World. Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the two views of the future:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no-one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.”

Our civilization has fused the worst of both novels. Many people in our country aren’t capable of reading a book. Supposedly educated people have no interest in reading a book. The government withholds or manipulates information that is spoon fed to the public. Trivial meaningless information floods the airwaves, keeping the public continuously diverted from seeking truth. The truth is lost in shades of grey and purposeful misinformation. Supposed differences between the ruling parties distract the public from realizing they are being fleeced by those in power. Government has used fear to create agencies and departments that have taken away our liberties and freedoms through Orwellian surveillance techniques. Our dumbed down culture of hero worship, material pleasures, and ego enhancement is the representation of triviality. The Alphas have used our fears and desires to distract us from their plans to dominate and control every aspect of our lives. Their success is all but assured at this point.

I’m not optimistic that there are enough Americans who value freedom over presumed safety, security, and social welfare benefits. The public has been duped into believing thrilling falsehoods rather than unexciting truths. Huxley explains how the propagandists have stolen our freedom:

“In their anti-rational propaganda the enemies of freedom systematically pervert the resources of lang­uage in order to wheedle or stampede their victims into thinking, feeling and acting as they, the mind-manipulators, want them to think, feel and act. An education for freedom (and for the love and intelli­gence which are at once the conditions and the results of freedom) must be, among other things, an educa­tion in the proper uses of language.”

I do not pretend to have the answers. Intellectual curiosity, a skeptical nature, and not buying into our shallow culture are the best chance for change. Reading or re-reading Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited will open your eyes to our plight. The current Fourth Turning will end in glory or tragedy. The choices we make as a society in the next 10 to 15 years will ultimately decide our fate. Huxley’s advice in Brave New World Revisited is wise, pertinent, and implementable today:

As recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society's merely func­tional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily cooperating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Govern­ment.
If you wish to avoid the spiritual impoverishment of individuals and whole societies, leave the metropolis and revive the small country community, or alternately humanize the me­tropolis by creating within its network of mechanical organization the urban equivalents of small country communities, in which individuals can meet and co­operate as complete persons, not as the mere embodi­ments of specialized functions.
As citizens of the American Republic we must answer the question posed by Huxley:

“Do we really wish to act upon our knowledge? Does a majority of the population think it worthwhile to take a good deal of trouble, in order to halt and, if possible, reverse the current drift toward totalitarian control of everything?”

“There is no darkness but ignorance. The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” - William Shakespeare

Looking At Ourselves Looking Out

Instagram might be ruining our memories. Here's why that's a good thing.

So that, in the presenteism of the technological Brave New Age and World we live in Some argue that the dispaearance and dependency of cognition and our remembering onto machines is a good thing. Here is what Chris Gayomali wrote:

For some 150 million users around the world, Instagram is an indispensable tool for broadcasting the tiny slices of life you deem most sharable, whether it's your cat curling into a fluffball or a pretty plate of Eggs Benedict.

A new study, however, claims that signal comes at a price. Researcher Linda Henkel at Fairfield University found that Instagram and similar photo applications may be making it harder for us to, well, remember stuff.

"We're kind of counting on our technology to keep our memories," says Henkel. "We collect photos almost as if they're trophies, or evidence, but that's not the same thing as trying to capture the experience." Here's how NBC News describes the experiment:

The study, which was published this week in the journal Psychological Science, was done at the Bellarmine Museum of Art, where people participating in the experiment were taken on a museum tour. They were told to photograph some of the objects, and to simply observe others. The next day, their memories were tested — and they remembered more details about the objects they observed than the objects they photographed. (They were even shown photos of things they had taken photos of, and they could not remember having seen those things at all, let alone photographing them.)

But in a second experiment, volunteers were instructed to zoom in on certain parts of a work of art. When their memories were later tested, they not only remembered the details of the part they'd zoomed in on, but they also remembered details from the rest of the piece. [NBC News]

Capturing and sharing life digitally, therefore, may be making it harder for our brains to recall details on cue. Now, before we get too far into it, the study does make an important point: Sometimes we do get far too absorbed into capturing and uploading moments that we fail to relish them, whether it is singing along to your favorite song at concert, or — as the experiment suggests — absorbing the emotional gravity of a work of art.

But let's overlook the fact that humans have been gazing at art, sunsets, and their friends through camera lenses for many, many decades now; moms have been asking their children to squish together in front of Christmas trees since time immemorial. The motions and mechanics of taking a photo may be faster. And the technology itself may be more compact. But the act of taking a photograph is unchanged.

So while photo-sharing applications like Instagram and Facebook are making it more difficult to remember specific details, it may be another example of our brains outsourcing mental resources. Social media, after all, has already proven that it can make us smarter in more ways than one.

Think about it. We already externalize cognition in several ways we didn't a decade ago: Instead of remembering and entering the 10 digits of friend's phone number, for example, we tap their name. Before that, we used a phone book. Or, instead of remembering landmarks and turns to get to a destination, we now look to Google Maps.

Instagram, likewise, helps us revisit what we saw, who we were with, and if need be, where we were.

The concept is hardly new. Augmenting our minds with technology was explored deeply in a 1998 paper called "The Extended Mind" by two philosophers, the University of Edinburgh's Andy Clark and Australian National University's David Chalmers. "Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?" they ask. Some people might say the skull, but Clark and Chalmers argue that the brain's faculties extend further into the outside world than we realize. (And this is pre-Google, mind you.)

The brain (or brain and body) comprises a package of basic, portable, cognitive resources that is of interest in its own right. These resources may incorporate bodily actions into cognitive processes, as when we use our fingers as working memory in a tricky calculation, but they will not encompass the more contingent aspects of our external environment, such as a pocket calculator. Still, mere contingency of coupling does not rule out cognitive status. [Consc.net]

As Clark and Chalmers suggests, coupling with our tools provide us with untold advantages over previous generations. It has always been this way. Keyboards helps us write faster than pencils; Google is now just a vocal request away; Instagram is a photo album unbound by the limitations of time and geography.

Surely, both the old and new possess advantages and disadvantages. But technology and progress only move in one direction. How quickly we forget that.

Neurobabble..

As computers, tablets, mobile phones, and MP3 players have become ubiquitous, parents and teachers have voiced concerns that the hyper-technological lifestyle of today’s youngsters is doing them harm. Accordingly, researchers have begun to investigat
As computers, tablets, mobile phones, and MP3 players have become ubiquitous, parents and teachers have voiced concerns that the hyper-technological lifestyle of today’s youngsters is doing them harm. Accordingly, researchers have begun to investigat

According to a recent study, memory’s sharpness deteriorates earlier than we presumed: Forty-five is the new mental 60. Fortunately, there are practical ways to enhance mental agility: exercise, healthy diet, sufficient rest, learning new things. Increasingly, technology will play an important role in preserving cognitive function. From the sanctioned war on Alzheimer’s to widespread off-label use of Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil, one thing is clear: We’re intent on getting our memory enhancement on.

Ubiquitous information and communication technology is a major player in the memory enhancement game. I’m not alluding to products that target impairments, like the iPhone app for combating dementia. Rather, I mean commonplace software that people use to make recall less taxing, more extensive, or easier to visualize.

For instance, Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA protest made 162 million users, accustomed to turning to the site for those idle questions that crop up every day, feel absent-minded. Nobody messed with my hippocampus or your prefrontal cortex. Rather, Wikipedia’s actions were jarring because Internet use affects transactive memory, which is “the capacity to remember who knows what.” If we know information is available online, we’re inclined to remember where it can be found, rather than struggle to retain the facts. This evolutionary tendency to off-load taxing aspects of cognition into the environment—natural or built—extends beyond using devices to recall information we’re already familiar with.

This is called “extended cognition,” and it plays a crucial role in a controversial view called the “extended mind” thesis. Advocates argue that data-management technologies, from low-tech pads to high-tech computers, don’t always function as mere memory-prompting tools. Sometimes, they deserve to be understood as parts of our mind.

While controversy doesn’t surround the science of transactive memory, its implications are hotly debated. Philosopher of science Ronald Giere rejects the extended mind view to avoid conceptual and ethical problems. Others express concern about our ability to use technology responsibly. Nicholas Carr, author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, calls research into technology’s effects on transactive memory “disquieting.” In All Things Shining, renowned artificial intelligence critic Hubert Dreyfus and Harvard University’s Sean Kelly depict reliance on GPS navigation as so acidic to skill and meaning that it “flattens out human life.” Historian Edward Tenner suggests “access to electronic memory tends to give us an exaggerated view of our knowledge and skills.” Such ongoing debate signals an important cultural shift, one we’re all struggling to come to terms with.

Until recently, memory problems indicated a deficiency in personal character, a shortage of “ethics or humanity.” This outlook was a sign of the times: Informational scarcity fueled an ethos of individualism. Today, advances in technology and technique enable vast quantities of networked information to be stored and retrieved cheaply, simply, and reliably. Information abundance fuels its own ethos where interdependency and mediation take center stage. Go to a party and brag about your ability to recall contact information. Nobody will toast your commitment to swimming against the tide of memory depletion. Instead, folks will tell you and your antiquated sensibilities to get a life and a smartphone.

Transhumanists like George Dvorsky are holding out for perfect memories, or total recall: “Count me in for when perfect memory finally becomes medically possible,” he has written. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but this sounds terrible. The ability to forget allows us to forgive (“time heals all wounds”) as the pain of memories fades. It also allows us to make difficult, but important life-altering decisions. Ethicist Justin Weinberg suggests perfect recall of the pain of childbirth and the tortures of new-parent sleep deprivation could impact reproduction. More than a century ago, Nietzsche speculated that active forgetting is the key to living a life unencumbered by resentment. Today, scientists concur. Memory is seen as a creative “means for endlessly rewriting the self.”

Luckily for me (but not Dvorsky), perfect recollection isn’t close to being feasible. Drugs and surgery aren’t there yet, nor are digital means. Michigan State’s Lawrence Busch argues that data storage technology is more advanced than data-cataloging tools:

Large-scale data sets commonly stored on computers present many of the same problems as memory-enhancing technologies. First, data often are drawn from highly biased samples containing numerous errors; a few outliers may skew interpretation of the entire data set. Second, data-mining programs often don’t live up to the hype. They fail to detect subtle differences and identify the proper features of salience.

Perhaps, though, incremental advances in “key phrase search capabilities” are all it takes to dramatically enhance our recall powers.

Meida Streaming Data: Social Media's Viral Soup

The media techniques that are in use today in the Modern Technological societies, do condition man in many ways. It is important then, up to this point in our lives, to begin to get a sense of what traditional and modern media are all about. In the following piece, we are informed by Debashis "Deb" Aikat, that:

"Traditional media refer to conventional means of mass communication as practiced by various global communities and cultures from ancient times. Folk media are some of the most vibrant representations of traditional media because they reflect communication channels for, by, and of the common people of a society or region. In contrast to old- fashioned communication, modern media refer to mass communication characteristic of recent times, or the contemporary communication relating to a recently developed or advanced technology. Modern media are now being followed by postmodern media, which relate to mass communication that reacts against earlier modernist principles by reintroducing traditional or classical style elements or by carrying modernist styles or practices to extremes. Based on analyses of the evolution of traditional and modern media over the ages, this article features a wide range of perspectives on the primary role of storytelling in mass media, the evolution of puppetry as an entertainment medium, the potential of using media for entertainment education, technology innovations that have transformed mass media, neo-Luddite concerns over technological developments, and a chronological list of defining moments in traditional and modern media history. This article concludes that the mass media are among the most effective life support systems with the widest worldwide distribution and largest impact on the global future. As environmental and social problems continue to grow in this information age, the urgent necessity to shift to a sustainable economy has been recognized. In response to this call, there is an urgent need for a new generation of socially responsible mass media that adopt innovative strategies such as entertainment education to address complex, interconnected, global issues. Both traditional and modern media could help promote improved levels of communication, and shared information that enables sustainable development on a global scale. In sum, a sustainable society must be an informed community."

Hackers Take Control of a Moving Car

Technological Cars Today Are Vulnerable To Hacking Becasue Of Being Computer Controlled

Anatomy of an auto hack: With just a laptop connected to its diagnostics port, Valasek and Miller turned an innocent Prius into the world’s worst amusement park ride. Here what they could do.
Anatomy of an auto hack: With just a laptop connected to its diagnostics port, Valasek and Miller turned an innocent Prius into the world’s worst amusement park ride. Here what they could do. | Source

Report: Cars are vulnerable to wireless hacking

David Shepardson of the Detroit News Writes:

Washington — – Millions of cars and trucks are vulnerable to hacking through wireless technologies that could jeopardize driver safety and privacy, a report released late Sunday says.

As vehicles grow increasingly connected through wireless networks and become more dependent on sophisticated electronic systems, Congress and federal regulators are worried about the potential for hackers to interfere with vehicle functions. The report overseen by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, says vehicles are vulnerable to hacking through wireless networks, smartphones, infotainment systems like OnStar — even a malicious CD popped into a car stereo.

Its release comes after CBS News' "60 Minutes" on Sunday aired a segment showing how vehicles can be subjects of remote hacking. Just last month, BMW AG said it had fixed a security flaw that could have allowed up to 2.2 million vehicles to have their doors remotely opened by hackers.

Markey cited studies showing hackers can get into the controls of some popular vehicles, "causing them to suddenly accelerate, turn, kill the brakes, activate the horn, control the headlights, and modify the speedometer and gas gauge readings. Additional concerns came from the rise of navigation and other features that record and send location or driving history information."

"Drivers have come to rely on these new technologies, but unfortunately the automakers haven't done their part to protect us from cyber attacks or privacy invasions," Markey said. "Even as we are more connected than ever in our cars and trucks, our technology systems and data security remain largely unprotected."

He said government and automotive industry officials need to work with cyber-security experts "to establish clear rules of the road — not voluntary agreements — to ensure the safety and privacy of 21st-century American drivers."

Markey said some security measures used by automakers — ID numbers and radio frequencies — can be identified and rewritten or bypassed.

The "60 Minutes" segment showed a researcher with a laptop hacking into a new car — turning on windshield wipers, sounding the horn, deactivating brakes — as correspondent Lesley Stahl was unable to stop in a parking lot.

Automakers and the "60 Minutes" report note that there is no known real-world case of a car being hacked remotely. But the program notes that "security cameras have shown cars burglarized by hackers unlocking doors. You can find software to do that online for $25," the show said.

Sean Kane, president of Massachusetts-based Safety Research and Strategies, said there has been a "stunning lack of foresight" by regulators to ensure that cars are safe and secure.

"Look how many of the last year's recalls related to electronic issues ... it's not going to be that far along — whole generations of vehicles — that could be vulnerable ... it's not sci-fi," Kane said. Some 2014 models use 2G technology, he said, that could be a "wide open door" to hackers.

Kane agreed that, at least initially, the biggest concern for hackers is those who got access to a person's car keys. But he said there are big concerns about wireless access.

The issue could be even more important as future vehicles communicate with one another through "vehicle to vehicle" technology to prevent crashes, but could also be at risk of hacking.

One automaker told Markey that some owners have attempted to reprogram the vehicle's onboard computer to increase the horsepower of vehicles or torque through the use of "performance chips."

Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — the trade group representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and others — said he had not seen the report.

But he said automakers believe strong consumer data privacy protections and strong vehicle security are essential.

"Auto engineers incorporate security solutions into vehicles from the very first stages of design and production — and security testing never stops.

"The industry is in the early stages of establishing a voluntary automobile industry sector information sharing and analysis center — or other comparable program — for collecting and sharing information about existing or potential cyber-related threats."

Automakers noted that the Society of Automotive Engineers has created a Vehicle Electrical System Security Committee to draft standards that help ensure electronic control system safety.

In November, two major auto trade associations representing nearly all automakers unveiled a set of principles to protect driver privacy and security.

Markey wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, working with the Federal Trade Commission, to set standards to protect the data, security and privacy of drivers.

NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said Sunday the agency is "engaged in an intensive effort to determine potential security vulnerabilities related to new technologies and will work to ensure that manufacturers cooperate and address issues in order to keep motorists safe."

NHTSA "will carefully consider the contents of this new (Markey) report as well," he added.

A 2013 federal law requires NHTSA to report to Congress on this issue. NHTSA ended its public comment period on its research efforts in December as it works to complete its report.

Markey cited a 2013 study funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It found researchers could tap into vehicles' electronic systems through a laptop computer connected by a cable. In initial tests on two 2010 vehicles from different automakers, they were able to do everything from cause the cars to accelerate and turn, to disable brakes and blow the horn.

Automakers initially said in 2013 that the concerns were limited to hackers getting direct access to vehicles with a computer, but Markey's report said the companies failed to note the study built on prior research "that demonstrated that one could remotely and wirelessly access a vehicle ... through Bluetooth connections, OnStar systems, malware in a synced Android smartphone, or a malicious file on a CD in the stereo."

German motorist association ADAC said in January it had discovered a security flaw that could have allowed 2.2 million BMWs, Minis and Rolls-Royces to be remotely unlocked by hackers through BMW's "Connected Drive." The automaker now encrypts transmissions between cellphones and cars; the update was completed last month.


Engaging The Media

The term 'technological determinism' was coined long ago by the American sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen (d. 1929) (I'd be glad to hear from anyone who knows exactly where in his writings this term first appears). Nowadays, the term is used to refer to the common assumption that new technologies are the primary cause of:

major social and historical changes at the macrosocial level of social structure and processes;
and/or

subtle but profound social and psychological influences at the microsocial level of the regular use of particular kinds of tools.
Extreme forms of technological determinism are widely criticised for various reasons by modern social scientists. I will allude to such criticisms shortly in order to strengthen the guard of the unwary against the hype of rampant technophilia (or indeed technophobia). Although technological determinism is most commonly associated with broad claims about social and historical change, I will focus here on theories of influence at the level of individual use. I will argue that adopting a more moderate and socially-inflected version of this perspective may shed some light on what most people would call our 'use of tools', but which (for reasons which I hope will soon become apparent) I prefer to refer to as our 'engagement with media'. I will begin within a framework which is broadly applicable to both the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels.

It may be useful to try to 'map' differing attitudes to technological potency so as to 'know where we stand'. Four main standpoints are found amongst commentators on various technologies (though there is, of course, terrain in between).

Extreme (also called 'strong' or 'hard') technological determinists present 'Technology' in general (or a particular technology) as either a 'sufficient condition' (sole cause) determining widespread societal or behavioural changes, or at least as a 'necessary condition' (requiring additional preconditions). This is the stance of those who insist that information technology [or some other technology] will radically transform society and/or our ways of thinking [or has already done so]. It is the stance that most enrages contemporary sociologists (who wear rather different spectacles from technologists).
In a more cautious variation of this stance, weak (or 'soft') technological determinists present technology as a key factor (amongst others) which may facilitate such changes in society or behaviour. This is the perspective which I propose to explore shortly (taking for granted the importance of socio-cultural factors).
In opposition to the technological determinists are two further groups:
Socio-cultural determinists present technologies and media as entirely subordinate to their development and use in particular socio-political, historical and culturally-specific contexts. This is the stance of most modern sociologists on the issue.
Voluntarists emphasize individual control over the tools which they see themselves as 'choosing' to use.
Whatever the specific technological 'revolution' may be, technological determinists present it as a dramatic and 'inevitable' driving force, the 'impact' of which will 'lead to' deep and 'far-reaching' 'effects' or 'consequences'. This sort of language reflects an excited, prophetic tone which many people find inspiring and convincing but which alienates social scientists. Most famously, it pervades the writings of the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan (d. 1980), who argued that communication technologies such as television, radio, printing and writing profoundly transformed society and 'the human psyche'. The technologies (or media) which he discussed in such books as The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media reflected his very broad use of the terms, making his famous claim that 'the medium is the message' even more dramatic. Such broad claims are open to the criticism of 'reification' (treating the referent as if it were a single, undifferentiated object).

Technological determinism is, of course, particularly widespread at present with regard to computers and the InterNet. Many enthusiastic users of such technologies drift unquestioningly into the assumptions of technological determinism. In its pessimistic form (as in the writings of Jacques Ellul) technological determinism involves a sort of conspiracy thesis in which 'technology' (or a particular technology) is seen as a totally autonomous entity with a will of its own. In its optimistic form (as in the propaganda of countless technophiles) it involves a naive faith in 'progress' (and in those initiating technological change).

Either way, extreme forms of technological determinism have been criticized for leaving us feeling politically helpless, suiting the purposes of those with real power in society by performing the conservative function of preserving the socio-political status quo.

Attitudes towards technological potency are inextricable from the debate over 'technological neutrality' (see Winner 1977, Bowers 1988). Some critics of determinism argue that the tools themselves are 'neutral' - for them bias can arise only from the ways in which tools are used, not from the tools themselves (remember the folklore saying, 'it's a bad worker who blames the tools'). It is doubtful, of course, that anyone would dispute that bias may arise in the process of use, but determinists of various hues argue that particular technologies or media themselves embody (or dispose users towards) biases of various kinds.

Although I'd distance myself from hard determinism I do feel that there is some truth in a more moderate stance, at least on the level of the regular use of particular kinds of tools by individuals. In my own view, it is a mistake to regard any tools as 'general-purpose' or 'content-free': all tools and media - from language to the computer - embody basic biases towards one kind of use or mode of experience rather than another.

The word processor, for instance, may seem to be 'content-free', but it embodies someone's idea of what writing is, and its use may sometimes involve a degree of compromise (a theme I have treated at length in a recent book on The Act of Writing). As someone once said, when you are holding a hammer the whole world can look like a nail, and giving a twist to a remark by Neil Postman, one might fruitfully speculate as to what the world might look like to someone regularly using the InterNet (though I'd stress the need for an explicit comparison with some other mode of experience).

My argument is that all media give shape to experience, and they do so in part through their selectivity. In the context of 'a phenomenology of human-machine relations', Don Ihde, a philosopher, has analysed the selectivity of technology, arguing that human experiences are transformed by the use of instruments, which 'amplify' or 'reduce' phenomena in various ways.

As he put it: 'Technologies organize, select and focus the environment through various transformational structures' (Ihde 1979, p. 53). Prior to Ihde, Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis had also explored the selectivity of media, although their focus had been primarily on the social 'effects' of various media of communication. Innis had argued in The Bias of Communication (1951) that each form of communication involved a 'bias' in its handling of space and time (see Carey 1968, & 1989, Ch. 6). And McLuhan, in books such as The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) and

The Medium is the Massage (sic, McLuhan & Fiore 1967) had asserted that the use of particular media 'massages' human 'sense ratios' (allusions to which are also found in Innis). More recently, Neil Postman has reinterpreted McLuhan's aphorism that 'the medium is the message' as meaning that 'embedded in every tool is an ideological bias, a predisposition to construct the world as one thing rather than another, to value one thing over another, to amplify one sense or skill or attitude more loudly than another' (Postman 1993, p. 13).

The selectivity of a medium arises from the way in which it formalizes phenomena within its own constraints. Any medium facilitates, emphasizes, intensifies, amplifies, enhances or extends certain kinds of use or experience whilst inhibiting, restricting or reducing other kinds. Of course, our use of any medium for a particular task may have advantages over 'the alternatives' (such as 'saving' time or labour), but use always involves a 'cost'. There are losses as well as gains. A medium closes some doors as well as opening others, excludes as well as includes, distorts as well as clarifies, conceals as well as reveals, denies as well as affirms, destroys as well as creates. The selectivity of media tends to suggest that some aspects of experience are important or relevant and that others are unimportant or irrelevant. Particular realities are thus made more or less accessible - more or less 'real' - by different processes of mediation.

The routine use of a medium by someone who knows how to use it typically passes unquestioned as unproblematic and 'neutral': this is hardly surprising since media evolve as a means of accomplishing purposes in which they are usually intended to be incidental. And the more frequently and fluently a medium is used, the more 'transparent' or 'invisible' to its users it tends to become. For most routine purposes, awareness of a medium may hamper its effectiveness as a means to an end. Indeed, it is typically when the medium acquires transparency that its potential to fulfil its primary function is greatest.

The selectivity of any medium may lead to its use having influences of which the user may not always be conscious, and which may not have been part of the purpose in using it. We can be so familiar with the medium that we are 'anaesthetized' to the mediation it involves: we 'don't know what we're missing'.

Insofar as we are numbed to the processes involved we cannot be said to be exercising 'choices' in its use. In this way the means we use may modify our ends. Amongst the phenomena enhanced or reduced by media selectivity are the ends for which a medium was used. Since it may be impossible to foresee all the consequences of our use of a medium, such use tends to be accompanied by 'unintentional side-effects' (Winner 1977, pp. 88-100).

In such cases, our 'purposes' are subtly, and often invisibly, redefined. Langdon Winner refers to this as reverse adaptation, or 'the adjustment of human ends to match the character of the available means' (ibid., p. 229). This is the opposite of the pragmatic and rationalistic stance, according to which the means are chosen to suit the user's ends, and are entirely under the user's control.

How much it matters to us that our ends are transformed by our media depends on whether such transformations seem to us to be in general harmony with our overall intentions: 'side-effects' can, of course, be 'positive' as well as 'negative'. But we are seldom (if ever) so detached in our use of media that we can assess the phenomenon in all of its complexity.

Since side-effects can also be immediate or delayed (short-, medium- or long-term), they may need a historical perspective too. And as dynamic processes which are enmeshed with others they elude our attempts to identify them. Subtle side-effects of our use of media may escape our notice, but they may nevertheless be profound.


Social Media Ecology

The Environment and Ecology Of Media

An awareness of this phenomenon of transformation by media has often led media theorists to argue deterministically that our technical means and systems always and inevitably become 'ends in themselves' (a common interpretation of McLuhan's aphorism, 'the medium is the message'), and has even led some to present media as wholly autonomous entities with 'purposes' (as opposed to functions) of their own. However, one need not adopt such extreme stances in acknowledging the transformations involved in processes of mediation. When we use a medium for any purpose, its use becomes part of that purpose. Travelling is an unavoidable part of getting somewhere; it may even become a primary goal. Travelling by one particular method of transport rather than another is part of the experience. So too with writing rather than speaking, using a word processor rather than a pen or a telephone instead of a letter. In using any medium, to some extent we serve the purposes which are frozen within it as functions as well as it serving ours. When we engage with media we both act and are acted upon, use and are used. Where a medium has a variety of functions it may be impossible to choose to use it for only one of these functions in isolation. Who has not experienced unanticipated shifts of purpose in using The Web or in watching television? The making of meanings with media and technologies must at least sometimes involve some degree of compromise. Complete identity between any specific purpose and the functionality of a medium is likely to be rare, although the degree of match may on most occasions be accepted as adequate.

The significance of media transformations to those involved depends on resonances deriving from the nature and use of a medium rather than from explicit 'messages'. Postman has employed the term in the context of media; I use it to refer to any kind of significance which may be attached to the use of one medium rather than another. The comparisons by those involved might be conscious or unconscious, explicit or implicit. And such significances might be experienced by an individual, a group or more broadly in a particular culture or sub-culture; they could be enduring or transitory, current or retrospective, incidental or primary, subtle or dramatic, intended or unintended, related to a particular occasion or more generally applicable. Openness to such resonances, of course, is likely to vary according to task, personality, role and so on - to such an extent that to some of those who read these words the very idea of being influenced by their tools will be simply inconceivable!

Environmental Ecological Media

Man Is Becoming A Technological Determined Human Cyborg.. Or?..

All of these features — selectivity, transparency, transformation and resonance — are associated with every process of mediation. And such features and processes exist in dynamic interaction. Traditional academic disciplines attempt to fit the practices of everyday life into frameworks which are primarily sociocultural, psychological, linguistic or technological. But, against the tide of academic specialization,

I would suggest that those who seek to explore processes of mediation should attempt to move as readily as possible between such interpretative frames. Such frame shifting is essential for gaining insights into the 'ecology' of processes of mediation in which we are all inextricably enmeshed — in which our behavior is not technologically determined but in which we both 'use tools' and can be subtly shaped by our use of them.

But I think Thomas P. Hughes will have something to say about that as...

He proceeds to argue that, "We have more control over younger systems. Less entrenched technologies are more prone to social construction. Once a technological system has human values assigned to it, and the physical underpinnings of those values are in place, it becomes increasingly hard to affect change in that system (though not impossible, and mentions, if the system is broken down into component parts or if a range of challengers urge change)."

If we consider electric poles, highways, telephone lines, plumbing, interstate trucking, satellite communications all part of the same technological system, then we might say we are dealing with a rather entrenched system. Leading a grand charge against it would require a rather broad resistance, more than simply the Unabomber and the amish, with a liberal dose of Ralph Nader.

Either that or the system of technology infrastructure is so fragile and subject to failure that it will topple without much deliberate effort. (The day my thesis final draft was due, news came out that a PanAmSat Galaxy IV satellite had lost its orbit, debilitating communications and information for the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Weather Service, Reuters, United Press International, National Public Radio, PageNet (an estimated 90% of paging services — "Wayward Satellite Wreaks Havoc," Reuters/Wired News). Doctors could not be paged by patients, payments and withdrawals with ATM and credit cards were stalled, Airports and Airlines didn't know windspeed or weather predictions. The early news is breathless, describing an unprecedented calamity, a vital communications breakdown. So far little physical damage has been reported however, and older technologies are working backup. So are we screwed here or just inconvenienced?)

Below we learn form Smith and Marx that:

"Roe Smith and Leo Marx present us with the following piece:

Fortunately this question of technological determinism can never be fully answered so we are free to weight it as a state of mind. Smith and Marx note how those narratives focus on the consequences, rather than the origins of those machines. Similarly we can see ourselves as trapped on machine treadmills when we continue to apply technology fixes to technology problems instead of looking at root causes — we become dependent on new machines to solve the mess left by the old.

Hunched over machines

Marion Zimmer Bradley quote:

"But if we leave behind this boring talk of human responsibility and consider that in our laziness and daring to dream of the ultimate machine we may have nearly created a self-propagating race of robot servants that will soon supersede us. As Mark Dery notes:

"...The mathematician and SF author Vernor Vinge maintains that cybernetic evolution will give rise to a 'greater than human intelligence' between 2005 and 2030, at which point ultra-intelligent machine life will assume control of its own destiny, producing ever smarter progeny at an ever faster pace. The inevitable result, he argues, will be the ascent of a super evolved, technologically enhanced post-humanity."

Believing Vinge, and seeing our machines of today as the predecessors of the replicants of tomorrow requires a certain science fiction consciousness: imbuing the machine, technology system with a certain consciousness, that it moves forth almost as a supernatural force.
If we make that conceptual leap, we can already say that machines are determining their own direction, and dragging us along with them:

The telephone invented by Bell to help the deaf and broadcast symphonies is now a place where "gaudy women chat" ("Useless Chatter," International Herald Tribune, March 30, 1923)

The internet invented by the defense industry and academics for scientists to share data is now driving telecommunications networks into development overdrive.
Applying Hughes scale here, we might be working still to define technologies and their boundaries, but increasingly our machines demand other machines. Considered negatively, we often build as a reaction to fallout from previous inventions:

Increasingly our machines demand other machines. Considered negatively, we often build as a reaction to fallout from previous inventions:

Fallout from Abundance:

Too much of the rich food and a life of physical ease means we need new anti-obesity technologies: olestra, diet pills.

Fallout from pollution/changing nature of foodstuffs:

Having the infrastructure in place to make so much wonderful stuff isn't exactly compatible with organic humanity. Our products are malnourishing or even poisoning us. So we compensate with other products: vitamins, fortification.

That we manage these problems with technology implies our being locked into a technological society determined: machines demand machines, and we no longer have much say in determining direction, only forecasting coming apocalypses and exciting new software revisions.

Giger cyberflesh technology determinism is more sinister when considered in the realms of health. If we use machines to improve our bodies, and those machines demand other technologies, then we are locked in a relationship with the machine that we cannot avoid or leave to sustain our lives. We are then true cyborgs — organics and mechanics intertwined such that neither can survive without the other.

We are in the Trhalls of Today's Technologier

It is also important to write an article that includes ordinary men and women who use the technology. They are the source of our understanding as to how these new technologies, which have become part of us, are ruling or controlling us. Many intellectual spokespeople of technology laud its virtues, whilst there is the affects and effects of the usage of these new emerging and merging medium that have a totally adverse effect on our lives and behavior.

It is also important to listen and learn to the ordinary users who have the temerity and ability to write cogently about these media that I think ought to be represented here on this Hub. Theories abound about whether our present-day technologies are controlling or ruling us, or determining us in how we determine life. This argument has its ebbs and flows, and those who are right and wrong. But in the overall scheme of things, one finds that these argument are highlighting, on both sides of the spectrum, arguments that are valid, but in reality, we also need to pay attention to the side-effects of these technologies and their techniques.

Today we are no more behaving and existing as we did a decade or two ago. A lot has changed, and the caption I posted for this part of the Hub says it all.

Technologiy Will End Up Dumbing us Down

How Technology Rules Us

That is why at this point I will utilize the postings of Susan Evans from her Blog for the purposes of this Hub:

I got my first cell phone this year. Yes, I have lived without a cell phone for four decades and survived. When I grew up in Guatemala, my family went nine years without any phone whatsoever, not even a land line. When a bullet came through my window nearly killing my sister, my mom had to wait until my dad got home from work to tell him.

When I was 18, I moved to the United States. Valuing money, I decided to not spend my money on frivolous things. I saw cell phones like a piece of American jewelry, a decadence that made people feel important. Instead, I saved up all my money, and when I had the chance to live in England, I used the thousands of dollars that I had saved to travel the world. Yes, you have power when you have money. Power to live the kind of life you want to live instead of being enslaved to an American credit card institution that jacks up your interest rates and gives you no way out. Then you’re stuck.

Perhaps I thrived more as a result of not having a cell phone. I was productive. I wasn’t constantly checking for text messages, and continuously surfing the net from my phone, checking Facebook or whatever, generally wasting time. During a lull in the day, I would pray for someone, or turn and have a conversation with a real person, sometimes resulting in the salvation of a soul.

A cell phone is not necessary for survival. We just think it is. People have survived for thousands of years without it. You don’t need one.

A philosophical problem I had with getting a cell phone was that everyone that I knew bowed down and worshiped their cell phone. No, not physically, but in their hearts, because they were ruled by it. For example, I would be out on a date with my husband, and nearly every single person in the restaurant was looking at a cell phone screen instead of spending time with the person they were with. Our virtual lives have taken over our real lives.

So how come I finally bought a cell phone, and not just any cell phone either, but a modern one with all the bells and whistles? Because my sisters were begging me to get one. They wanted to feel that they had access to me 24/7, and they just wanted to say “I love you” and not have a long phone conversation. And because my business coach said I needed it to check e-mails and post to Twitter and Facebook. And then we finally had the money. Plus, my husband wanted one badly. Well, he wanted both of us to have one, so that he could get a hold of me to tell me that he was in a traffic jam and would be an hour late, and to please take the kids to karate and guitar practice. So yes, the cell phone has immense practical value.

I knew that I had come full circle when I ended up texting people during a date with my husband, which is something I determined never to do. I had purposely left my cell phone at home, getting into the car. My husband slid into the driver’s seat, handing me my phone and saying, “You forgot this.” As soon as we were driving away, my phone chimed. I had gotten a text message, and only five people have my cell phone number: my husband, my best friend, and my three sisters. Knowing that the chime indicated a person that I loved who had a need, how could I not get it? Besides, it would only take a few seconds to answer…

<Chime> <chime> <chime> <chime> <chime> My husband walked from the kitchen to the bedroom and said, “Your cell phone is chiming like the bells on Christmas morning.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. My cell phone is constantly burping and chiming. It’s like a baby that wants constant attention. I just check it once in a while,” I said, the novelty of the cell phone wearing off. I walked over to see what had caused so many back-to-back chimes, and I had 11 text messages all from one sister. Apparently she had written me a long letter, and the text messaging had broken it up into bits. I sat down and read the letter.

On a different occasion, I had gotten busy and had forgotten to check my phone for two days. A different sister had texted me two days previous and thought I was mad at her because I had ignored her. It made sense that my sister would think that I wore my phone, since that is what she did. My sister has six children, one of them married, the other five teenagers. She keeps tabs on them continuously through text messaging. I texted her that I had just gotten her message. I felt defeated. I wondered how long my sister had been upset with me, and I was sad that I had negatively affected her life because I hadn’t checked my cell phone.

Even all the way back to the first day, my sweet husband had called me. Apparently he called me three times on my cell phone before breaking down and calling our home number. I answered the phone, “Hello?”

“Susan, how come you’re not answering your cell phone? What’s the point of having cell phones if I can’t call you?”

I said, “I didn’t hear it ring. Through a closed door, it’s too quiet to hear, even on full blast. Do you want me to take it into the bathroom with me? If I don’t have any pockets, do you want me to carry it around with me while I’m doing chores?”

My husband was frustrated. If I tried to take it everywhere with me, I would forget where I set it down. Finally my husband decided to call the home number if I was at home, and the cell number when I was out. That made more sense, since I was actually carrying it while I was out.

Soon my husband was downloading lots of apps, mostly games. We were in the living room one evening in front of a lovely fire in the fireplace. (This was back in May.) The television was off, and through the flicker of firelight, I could see my husband poking his phone. I smiled at him because he was like a boy with a new toy. I went to get my phone. My husband showed me how to download apps, so I chose some free apps and downloaded them. Apps about jokes and love poems ended up being horrible (I wanted clean jokes and classical love poems), and I said, “How do I get apps off my phone?” He helped me to delete them.

I found the app “Grace to You,” sermons by John MacArthur that I could hear through my phone. My husband and I had originally met at Grace Community Church over 20 years ago. One day as I was listening to a sermon in my bedroom, my husband walked through the room. He recognized John MacArthur’s voice, and he was drawn like a magnet to the Word of God. He came and lay down on the bed next to me, the phone between us, blaring the voice of our long-ago pastor, who was preaching Scripture fearlessly. My husband and I had been listening to watered-down sermons for months at various churches as we prayed about where God wanted us to be. We were both starving for a good sermon, and my eyes teared up as I saw passion for the Word of God in my husband’s eyes. I realized then that my silly cell phone had drawn us together…

One of the things I love about having a cell phone is the fact that I always have a camera with me. I also have a video camera. It’s unbelievable how much technology is present in a phone that’s so small and thin that it fits in your pocket. At soccer practice one day, I was snapping a picture of my son when suddenly my phone started buzzing. I thought that was strange, since I hadn’t changed anything on my phone to cause it to vibrate. I looked at my phone, and it told me to check in.

As I looked at my phone in a bewildered fashion, it rang right in my hand. I answered it. It was my husband wanting me to check in. “What on earth do you mean? And by the way, my picture of Nathaniel came out blurry because you buzzed my phone while I was taking a picture.”

My husband explained that he had put a GPS on my phone so that he could see where I was located. I was actually happy about this because I often get lost when driving to a new location. I’m deep in thought and then miss my turn off point. While driving to my sister’s house years ago when I was single, I ended up in a different state. Yep. I have no sense of direction whatsoever. Even after exiting the grocery store, I will sometimes forget where I parked, so I have to press the lock button on my keys to “beep” the van so that I can find it.

All this to say that I was fine with my husband knowing where I was. He showed me how to check in. Then I said, “Can’t you just track me without my knowing? There must be a way for you to do it behind my back. I would rather not check in and have you ruin my pictures. I almost dropped my phone.”

My husband figured out how to track me without my knowing it, but the battery goes dead faster. My husband was playing with my phone one day and wondered why the battery was so low. He decided to switch the GPS off.

Another thing I love about my phone is the fact that I can speak into it, and it googles that thing. For example, I wondered whether the costume shop was open yet. So I said, “Display House, Spokane Valley, Washington.” I waited a few seconds, and I could see the hours it was open, and that it wasn’t open yet. I saved myself a half hour trip just because of my cell phone.

Navigation was something my husband used while we were out of town this summer. The phone just told my husband where to go to get to the convention center. “Turn right,” the robot woman would say. I listened to so many instructions that I had a conversation with my husband in a staccato robot voice, throwing in a joke. I made my husband laugh.

The wonders of modern technology never cease… Unfortunately as I rely more and more on my phone, I have become the very person that I said I wouldn’t become, someone who was ruled by a cell phone. And yet it’s so convenient and helpful…

Marshall McLuhan

To Be Human Or Not, Is The Conundrum

Marshall McLuhan captures this maxim with precision that is unmatched. He had recognized that these technologies are what is going to make us human beings. If one reads the article by Susan above, that one begins to get a sense that, even those that resist the technologies, eventually uses them, notes at the end the futility of using these technologies, they, themselves, these technologies, have contributed to her humanity in various, although vicariously imbibing them, seeing them and feeling the negative, she could not do without the technology, and ends up liking the technology, despite the debilitating side-effects it has inflicted and afflicted her with.As

Einstein noted above, we might end up with a generation of idiots, when the day comes that our technologies surpass our human interaction. The article above demonstrates this. Prior to having her cell phone, Susan was doing well without having to adjust her life in ways that she had too once she got hold of the phone. The leash-aspects of contemporary technologies is lost to many who now assume that's how life should be-staying in touch and connected through dependence on the cell phone.

Like I said in the piece above, there are tow arguments to this whole schtick, but in the end, it is when both parties end up using the same technologies to communicate their pro and con ideas about the effects and affects of technologies, that in the end, they become human because their technologies have overtaken their overall human interaction, face-to-face, and this to me is what is the problem. Whether we like or dislike technology, in the final analysis, it is the very thing that connects and takes over the entire human communications and interaction, that is bothersome. More so, it is troublesome that we end up loving it, despite the negative effects and adjustments we have to make in accessing ourselves and information.

If then, we are being humanized by technology, then it means we cannot humanize ourselves face-to-face, and man-to-man. We have a machine as an intermediary between our ways communicating and interacting with each other. We have then, in the process , lost our only glue in life… Face-to-face contact and interaction

The article by Susan above is one way of seeing how technologies have taken over our lives and narratives, using the Internet to really these fact and realities. The Internet with its all encompassing and broad reach is the one that has enabled us, those dependent on the Web for many application and so forth, that in the end, it's like using the very same technological technique to address issues and other side effects engendered by this technology. This is then a serious conundrum, for, the Web has mad e it impossible to know and learn about these matters, such as Susan wrote about, without its help and mediation.

Neil Postman

Cell Phone In Use, Today...

Obama administration says Constitution protects cell phone recordings

Timothy B. Lee Reports:

The Obama administration has told a federal judge that Baltimore police officers violated the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments by seizing a man's cell phone and deleting its contents. The deletions were allegedly in retaliation for the man's use of the phone to record the officers' arrest of his friend. According to the Maryland ACLU, this is the first time the Obama Justice Department has weighed in on whether the Constitution protects citizens' right to record the actions of police with their cell phones.

Christopher Sharp was attending the Preakness horse race in May 2010 with friends. Sharp, who alleges that the police beat his friend before arresting her, pulled out his cell phone to document the encounter. According to Sharp, several officers approached him and repeatedly demanded that he surrender his cell phone so they could make a copy of the video to use as evidence.

Sharp initially refused, but fearing arrest he eventually handed the phone over. One of the officers then took the phone out of the clubhouse. When the officer returned with it several minutes later, the video of the arrest had been deleted. Also gone were at least 20 other personal videos, including some involving his son, that had "great sentimental value" to Sharp.

A pattern of misconduct?

Sharp filed a federal lawsuit in October, charging that the police had violated his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He argued that the deletion of his videos was part of a broader pattern of Baltimore police officers violating citizens' right to record the actions of police. He listed six separate incidents since 2008 in which Baltimore police threatened or arrested private citizens for recording their actions.

In one particularly shocking 2008 incident relayed in Sharp's complaint (but not directly involving Sharp), "police officers seized cell phones from individuals in the crowd and, as one officer recalled during a deposition related to the incident, began throwing the phones to the ground. As articulated by the deposed officer, officers were seizing phones because members of the crowd were recording the incident for later posting on YouTube and similar sites."

Sharp argued that this "pattern and practice" of misconduct made court intervention essential. He asked the court to declare that cell phone recordings are protected by the Constitution and to award Sharp money damages.

The city has acknowledged that citizens have the right to record the actions of police officers. In August, it provided some of its officers with formal training on citizens' rights to record the actions of the police, and it sent an e-mail to the entire police force on the subject. The city has argued these steps will prevent future violations of Sharp's rights, and that this renders Sharp's lawsuit moot. The city has asked that it be dismissed.

But the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice isn't impressed. "Although defendants have taken some remedial actions, these measures do not adequately ensure that violation will not recur," the Obama Administration said in a Tuesday court filing. While the city's new training materials acknowledge that it's legal to record the actions of the police, they "do not explicitly acknowledge that private citizens' right to record the police derives from the First Amendment, nor do they provide clear and effective guidance to officers about the important First Amendment principle involved."

An emerging consensus

The Maryland ACLU told the Baltimore Sun that this is the first time the Obama Administration has weighed in on the issue. The decision to come down on Sharp's side of the argument is particularly significant because the executive branch is ordinarily quick to defend the prerogatives of law enforcement. Although this specific incident involved city police officers, the same reasoning would presumably protect the right of citizens to record and disseminate videos on the conduct of officials in the FBI, DEA, and other federal law enforcement agencies.

The filing is the latest sign of an emerging consensus that the First Amendment protects the right to record the public conduct of government officials with a cell phone. Last week, the Boston PD was forced to admit its officers acted improperly when they arrested a man for recording an arrest, after the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the city. And while Judge Richard Posner worried that a right to record the police will lead to excessive "snooping around," his fellow judges on the Seventh Circuit seemed sympathetic to the ACLU's argument that Illinois's strict wiretapping statute violates citizens First Amendment rights.

Can technology dehumanize society, including our homes and schools? In what way/s?

The QuestionAbove Was Asked In the blog Website Intel, and the following various answers were given by different respondents, which I have collated above to give the reader a sense of what different people are saying and thinking ant the Effects and Affects of Technology - Dehumanizing and Humanizing- humans, today...

Technologies dehumanize society, for example in other country they use technology. But in terms of using technology they are advanced it because even teacher are robots and also, in daily life they use technology. Sometimes technology dehumanizes our school because teacher used technology inside the classroom. For example in MAPEH when the teacher less idea and the topic is about traditional dance in other country then he/she use videos for students to see the proper steps. http://www.slideshare.net/fvsandoval/technology-and-dehumanization#btnNext TECHNOLOGY and DEHUMANIZATION Prepared by FOR-IAN V. SANDOVAL Can technology dehumanized society, including our homes and schools? Individualized regard for others can be humanizing. On the other hand, mass media technology can lead to dangers of dehumanization. It is possible for communicators, namely writers, teachers, advertisers treating public, their students and the consumers as machines . They may fail to perceive the receiver of their messages as humans with right privileges, and motivations of their own. Human mechanization is described by some as the process by which people are treated mechanically, that is without giving thought to what is going on inside them.

Dehumanization (or dehumanisation) describes the denial of “humanness” to others. As for the question, YES technology dehumanize our society including our homes and schools. Why? How can one expect computers to teach love, sympathy, respect and positive thinking that are the very base of society? How can one expect when children who spend most of their time with computers learn to adjust with their peer group? Children learn from seeing things happen around them. They react to situations by remembering what elders did in similar previous situations. Now we are depriving them of seeing humans and make them more interactive with machines which are lifeless, particularly when it comes to teaching human feelings and social values. Think what society it will be with human beings without a human heart? In our homes? I can say that the time allotted for bonding with the members of the family is lesser. Children plays all day and the worst thing is sometimes they skip their meals. Children are exposed to many things and they are not guided by their parents and sometimes it leads to danger. How can we have a family that is very close to each other when the quality time for each other is lacking? According to a New York Times article, the average kid, ages 8-18, spends over 7 1/2 hours a day using technology gadgets equaling 2 1/2 hours of music, almost 5 hours of watching televisions and movies, 3 hours of surfing the internet and playing video games, and just 38 minutes of old fashioned reading according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which adds up to 75 hours a week! These statistics data are not just mere numbers but a reflection of the way our society is heading to.

Dehumanization is the process of stripping away human qualities, such as denying others their individuality and self-esteem. With the rapid increase in medical technology many basic human qualities surrounding the care of the dying have been lost. Dehumanization is like a form of self-death that now often precedes physiological death owing to the institutionalization of the dying. For millennia the process of dying and the presence of death were both close and familiar realities of everyday life. Many people died in the bed they were born in, surrounded by their family and friends. Called "tame death" by the French philosopher and death expert Philippe Ariès, it was natural, expected, and integrated into the rhythms of life. The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, in his epic work War and Peace (1869), comments that when a relative is sick the custom is to seek professional care for him or her, but when a loved one is dying the custom is to send the professionals away and care for the dying within the family unit. The naturalness to dying that Tolstoy describes has undergone a radical shift in the modern era.

In order to fully comprehend if technology can dehumanize society, I’ll first define what dehumanization really means. Dehumanization (or dehumanisation) describes the denial of “humanness” to others and is theorized to take on two forms: animalistic dehumanization, which is employed on a largely intergroup basis, and mechanistic dehumanization, which is employed on a largely interpersonal basis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehumanization). Also, Dehumanization is the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment. This can lead to increased violence, human rights violations, war crimes, and genocide. In a world, based on technology, full of conflict and terror, we are so dependent on other systems for recording the events of our daily lives. As a culture, we are so dependent of instant messaging services, email, digital cameras, and above all digital cell phones. Cell phones are now attached to our ears and for some taking part in blue tooth technology, cell phones are constant. What has happened that we no longer feel connected to ourselves and have the ability to read our inner selves? What happened to the ideas of meditation and relaxation? And reconnecting to our spirituality? If technology was no longer available, would we be able to relax as a collective? (http://kateandthefabfour.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/are-we-dehumanizing-ourselves-with-technology/). These are some questions that must be considered to be able to fully understand if technology can dehumanize society. I can say that yes, technology can dehumanize society, including our homes and schools. We all know that technology is used almost everywhere where it can make our task easier, faster and precise in some instances. But then, do you know that it has negative sides in which it can result to dehumanization? There are several ways that will prove and persuade readers that this is true just like the following: First and foremost, technology in general and computers in particular are common theme in work on dehumanization. Critics charge that the computer metaphor of the mind in AI research is dehumanizing because computers lack our flexibility, emotionality, and capriciousness. Turkle (1984) argued that many adults in the 1970s and 1980s believed that computers lacked “the essence of human nature,” understood as emotion, intuition, spontaneity, and soul or spirit. Beliefs about the dehumanizing effects of computers compose one factor underlying computer anxiety (Beckers & Schmidt, 2001), and reservations about the educational use of computers revolve around concerns that they will reduce social relatedness and increase standardization, at the expense of students’ individuality (Nissenbaum & Walker, 1998). From these statements, I can say that there is a probability of dehumanization most especially if we will have dependency in the usage of computer and if we abuse and misuse it. For example, in home or in school, if we will only depend on the technologies in accomplishing most of our household chores or tasks, the possible outcome is that the lifespan of ours will become short because exercise is being rejected and our humanness will just like be replaced by technologies which in fact, these shouldn’t. Our life is a gift from God; so, to make it more meaningful and worthwhile, enjoy, make the best of what you can and don’t let anybody controls you except our creator. Another proof of dehumanization is the global warming, conflicts, sicknesses and calamities in which technologies contribute. As you can observe in today’s generation, we experience varied problems. In my own perception, one main contributor for these is the abuse and misuse of technology. So, in order to avoid all of these, we must use technologies wisely and appropriately. Furthermore, according to Dr. Keith Ablow, the suicide "is evidence of the dehumanizing effects that technology is having on young people." Also, craigslist is a digital brothel that promotes prostitution, and MySpace and YouTube are dangerous digital back alleys where children are cyber bullied can be included as dehumanizing effects that technology provides. Lastly, some people view technology as a bane or a curse. In classroom setting, teachers and learners could also be dehumanized. For example, if the teacher who schedules class TV viewing for the whole hour to free herself from a one-hour teaching and so can engage in “tsismis” or if the learner is made to accept as Gospel truth information they get from the Internet and if he/she uses the Internet to do character assassination of people, then it can end up to dehumanization. Technology is made for man and not man for technology. This means that technology is meant to serve man in all aspects of life (Lucido, Paz I. Ph.D., Educational Technology.

today, our world's based on technology, we are so dependent on other systems for recording the events of our daily lives. As a culture, we are so dependent of instant messaging services, email, digital cameras, and above all digital cell phones. Cell phones are now attached to our ears, cell phones are constant. What has happened that we no longer feel connected to ourselves and have the ability to read our inner selves? What happened to the ideas of meditation and relaxation? And reconnecting to our spirituality?It is defined by, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ that dehumanization means To deprive of human qualities such as individuality, compassion, or civility.
In the statement supported by the dehumanization's meaning, Yes, technology dehumanize society to the point where people need it every minute of the day. A lot of people depend on technology to get the job done. Instead of doing it on their own. For example send out text messages instead of calling the person they want to talk to.

If technology will be the one who does and makes ALWAYS the works and responsibilities of the people, that’s the time it can dehumanize the society. Technology makes the people lazy, idle and useless. But actually, this is not merely the fault of technology; it’s the mistake of the people. People who are too dependent to technology make themselves futile and ineffective in the society. They allow themselves to be dehumanized by technology. Society could not produce anymore individuals who are productive, competitive and efficient because of the people themselves. They all become worthless because of relying much on technology. Yes, there are instances that technology dehumanizes the society, including our homes and schools, like, some technologies take the role of the people. There are jobs which people could possibly apply and be hired but because of the highly invented technologies, job opportunities are deprived to them. As IBM's Watson proved on Jeopardy, robots are becoming smarter than people. They also make fewer mistakes and they don't get bored. By 2013 there will be 1.2 million industrial robots working worldwide -- that's one robot for every 5,000 people, according to Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works and author of Robotic Nation. Robots are currently analyzing documents, filling prescriptions, and handling other tasks that were once exclusively done by humans. : -jobs-that-are-already-being-replaced-by-robots-2011-3. There would be also pharmacist, chauffeurs and drivers robots. The army may no longer need to recruit soldiers because battle robots are the future of warfare.Robonaut2 can handle missions in outer space that are too dangerous for human astronauts. A robot is so much cooler than a nanny. Babysitting robots can recognize faces, tell jokes, and keep a kid from being lonely. Rescuers may not need to risk their lives anymore: Active scope cameras and other robots can go where humans can't. You can read more about these through clicking this link: http://www.businessinsider.com/9-jobs-that-are-already-being-replaced-by-robots-2011-3?
If the modernization will go beyond this, I can really say that technology can dehumanize the society. But for me, technology will not really cause dehumanization. We should not blame it to technologies, rather to those people who depend very much to technology; that even in the very simple job, they need a technology for them to work for it.

"Dehumanization has multiple meanings. It can be looking at a person or group of people as being less than human. Dehumanization can also occur through physical or mental means that causes a person to be stripped of their individuality and lose their self-esteem." http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_dehumanization. Technology makes our lives easy. We can find information with just a click. For me, technology can't dehumanize society, not even our homes. Technology contributes much to the improvement of the teaching-learning process and to the humanization of life. They say that technology is a blessing and yes, indeed. It serves us very much in a way that we can talk to others abroad, gives immediate information we needed, and maybe technology can give food for us. Computers, phones and other gadgets are very useful for our progress. When we say that it can dehumanize our society including our homes, we say that we are not practical persons. Dehumanizing us by the technology depends on us. Technology, when not properly used, becomes a detriment to instruction and human progress and development. (Corpuz & Lucido, 2008). Honestly, in my perspective, technology can't dehumanize us unless we will let technology manipulate our lives.

"Dehumanization has multiple meanings. It can be looking at a person or group of people as being less than human. Dehumanization can also occur through physical or mental means that causes a person to be stripped of their individuality and lose their self-esteem." http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_dehumanization. Technology makes our lives easy. We can find information with just a click. For me, technology can't dehumanize society, not even our homes. Technology contributes much to the improvement of the teaching-learning process and to the humanization of life. They say that technology is a blessing and yes, indeed. It serves us very much in a way that we can talk to others abroad, gives immediate information we needed, and maybe technology can give food for us. Computers, phones and other gadgets are very useful for our progress. When we say that it can dehumanize our society including our homes, we say that we are not practical persons. Dehumanizing us by the technology depends on us. Technology, when not properly used, becomes a detriment to instruction and human progress and development. (Corpuz & Lucido, 2008). Honestly, in my perspective, technology can't dehumanize us unless we will let technology manipulate our lives.

Technology can dehumanize our society including our school/s.Its because in the advancement and modernization of things which to be manipulated by the people(gadgets etc.), life has to be somehow be convenient and easier but we should also look on the side that technology can remove skills and qualities of people in dealing with things around them and they won't find any alternatives or options if technology is always present. For instance, in school/s, particularly in a classroom setting, if all of the students have their own personal computers, they will rely and be much independent through visiting websites that could provide answers on their research given by their teacher, the negative result of this is that, yes, they surely easily access information by just clicking one at a time but the traditional way of finding and acquiring information from books(more accurate information than those of the websites) or any reading materials that could somehow develop their reading skills is already gone. Indolence and laziness may occur also.
The negative result of technology is that people will just have to sit all day long and will have to be dependent on technology. As i've heard also, some people are just infront of their laptops having this"online schooling" and if you could accomplish the length of time needed, you'll be having/ given a diploma . For me, of course it isn't bad but the essence of formal schooling(attending school. being evaluated and monitored by a mentor is already gone).Despite of all the advancement of technology, we became a society of indolent people relying so much on it.

Dehumanization is the process of stripping away human qualities, such as denying others their individuality and self-esteem. With the rapid increase in medical technology many basic human qualities surrounding the care of the dying have been lost. Dehumanization is like a form of self-death that now often precedes physiological death owing to the institutionalization of the dying.

Dehumanization is the act of degrading people with respect to other best qualities. so, it is very obvious that Yes, technology dehumanize our society including our home. Since technology is under science and it is said that science is been blamed for the humanization of the modern life, the reason is that as you noticed nowadays,almost of people are been dependent to technology which create an obstruction to our home for instance, instead of us to work it,it is technology who is manipulating the task. even its have a big help. its make us lazy to think and in work.
In addition,this question was posed to a member of my Tech Club group by her 5th grade AIG students. It’s a great question and something for 5th graders to certainly think about as they look toward their future of high tech gadgets. I suspect that most people who are involved in Facebook, Twitter, on-line gaming, chat rooms, and the like, already experience a certain detachment to the “humans” they associate with on these networks.
But how does this technologically dehumanizing effect affect literacy? In my mind’s eye I see a little boy all curled up with mom in a dimly lit bedroom eagerly awaiting his “night-night” story. They’re snuggled together as she reads his favorite bedtime story, “Bony Legs.” It’s just scary enough for him to need the comfort and reality of mom’s closeness. She creates the characters with the intonation and inflection of her voice. The little boy can feel the suspense of the story and yet the safety of his mom’s presence. Because she’s read this story with him so many times, he is able to fill in some of the words as mom hesitates in order to allow him a chance to interact with the story. This is an interactive human experience.
By contrast, I see another little boy going to his bedroom for the night. His bed time story is read to him by a voice in the computer. He can hear the story multiple times, read in exactly the same way each time. Who does he snuggle with if he’s a bit fearful? He can interact with the story by saying the words or reading along, but who is there to encourage him when he’s correct or guide him if he’s not?
Both boys have had an experience in literacy. One, a very human experience, the other, a very technologically oriented experience. I would argue that the human literacy experience is a richer learning experience. My desire is that as we move deeper and deeper into this technologically advanced society, we continue to value the human experience.

One thing and for sure, technology would only dehumanize society if we use it improperly or right to say if “these” powerful people use and apply for their personal interest in expense of us, the nature and society we have. Most obvious example is what happened in Mindanao areas specifically in Davao Oriental and Compostella Valley, hundreds of people die because of typhoon Pablo, if only there are enough trees, if only there’s no nonstop digging of soil in their area and definitely the damage was not big but what had happen? The area almost disappears in map of the Philippines because of the damage. Now what’s the connection? The cutting down of trees, the toxic material of corporations and the garbage are factors of the incident and remember these are all ending product of technology that people used and invented, by simply misusing technology society become ruined. How about in our home? Exposure of the teen ager and children in video games, in internet caused addiction even different disease because of radiation, if too long in front of computer. Lack of bonding among the members of family is possible also, young today are too busy in Face book, Twitter, Y.M even Dota etc. and we are not sure that all of these promote educational learning and let’ not forget that violence are included. What I have discussed are just some of circumstances on how technology dehumanized our society and home, still at the bottom of these are whatever technology be invented it’s on our selves decision whether we are allowing tech. to ruined our society, home even life or technology be our tool to help and assist us to be a good individual to ourselves, to other, and to our country. Machines and technology will not last all the time so let’s be flexible, tech. help us but learn to help them by not relying too much to “them” and by using it properly because remember people are the “MASTER” and “PARTNER” of these inventions and we are not the “SLAVE” of it.

I can't say that technology can dehumanize society but I can't also say that it can't dehumanize society. As what we have notice nowadays, we really rely on technology. Technology can really help us. Every country had been develop just because of technology. Our home, school, and office become more comfortable just because of technology. Our life become more easier and faster. With the using of technology, our life in this world is being more good enough. Just come to think about it, if there's no more technology that is being invented, i think at this time we're in the age of an ancient people. Even the way we dress it is made in "anahaw" leaves. Whenever we go to some places, we just hike and feel the hot under the heat of the sun. Whenever we miss our love ones in abroad, we will write letters on them that will be replied in more than a month. I can't imagine, if there is no more technology in this world. Even brownout, we can really feel emptiness in this world. In contrast, technology would be able to dehumanize society in a way that, every student in school can't focus on their studies because of those those online games they have played. If we think critically, before, pre-marital sex is not the issue in the society. Those women before act like ""Dalagang Pilipina". They are soft spoken, they act accordingly. But notice nowadays, with the using of the product of technology which is the cellphone, you would be able to find your husband/wife through on it. To those photos, movies or what so ever unpleasant things that is not appropriate to those children or those young ones, they can see it now in an internet. I think because of confusion they might try it or do it! that result of their life become more miserable. With the using of technology also, people really rely on it, they become lazy enough to do something. When technology is not present they don't work at all. In conclusion, technology, can dehumanize or can't dehumanize society depend on how you will be going to use it. You must have discipline to use it and do not abuse it. It has disadvantage but more on advantage.

In a world, based on technology, full of conflict and terror, we are so dependent on other systems for recording the events of our daily lives. As a culture, we are so dependent of instant messaging services, email, digital cameras, and above all digital cell phones. Cell phones are now attached to our ears and for some taking part in blue tooth technology, cell phones are constant. What has happened that we no longer feel connected to ourselves and have the ability to read our inner selves? What happened to the ideas of meditation and relaxation? And reconnecting to our spirituality? If technology was no longer available, would we be able to relax as a collective?
In an article by Vannevar Bush “As We May Think,” published in 1945, the author states, “Presumably man’s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to put his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down party way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursion may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important” (9). (On a side note, it is important to note that the author spoke about technology and published this article in 1945.)
Our culture has become so complex that we need to advance our technological resources to record each and every moment. I know that each event is recorded with a digital camera and once I get a grade on a test I call my mom or if I’m having a bad day I call my best friend. There is no such day that I am without technology. What would happen if we all stopped using our cell phones and went back in a time where neighbors “called” upon each other? How amazing would it be if we went back to physical labor and reconnected with ourselves without technology? Maybe students would use the library not for studying purposes, but for research and to take books out for entertainment?
If we all took a step back from technology, we may become better people. No longer would we have the problem of technological literacy and the technology divide? For once, since the beginning of time we would all be equal and there would be nothing to divide us.

In a world, based on technology, full of conflict and terror, we are so dependent on other systems for recording the events of our daily lives. As a culture, we are so dependent of instant messaging services, email, digital cameras, and above all digital cell phones. Cell phones are now attached to our ears and for some taking part in blue tooth technology, cell phones are constant. What has happened that we no longer feel connected to ourselves and have the ability to read our inner selves? What happened to the ideas of meditation and relaxation? And reconnecting to our spirituality? If technology was no longer available, would we be able to relax as a collective?

In an article by Vannevar Bush “As We May Think,” published in 1945, the author states, “Presumably man’s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to put his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down party way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursion may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important” (9). (On a side note, it is important to note that the author spoke about technology and published this article in 1945.)

Our culture has become so complex that we need to advance our technological resources to record each and every moment. I know that each event is recorded with a digital camera and once I get a grade on a test I call my mom or if I’m having a bad day I call my best friend. There is no such day that I am without technology. What would happen if we all stopped using our cell phones and went back in a time where neighbors “called” upon each other?How amazing would it be if we went back to physical labor and reconnected with ourselves without technology? Maybe students would use the library not for studying purposes, but for research and to take books out for entertainment?

If we all took a step back from technology, we may become better people. No longer would we have the problem of technological literacy and the technology divide?

Regardless of the speed, we are surely making people lose touch with what it means to be human. We are desensitizing society to what should be felt when people suffer. We are caging people in, making them into machines, and thus stifling their creativity. And we are doing this with tools we have in our culture and around the house. And if we don't stop, future generations will feel less and less and will be less and less connected with each other as well as themselves.
The first tool being used to numb people to themselves is our ever advancing technology. It isn't that technology is all negative. As someone who has survived cancer surgery, I can attest to the benefits of technology. And I didn't need to go through such surgery to appreciate technology. But, as with anything else, there is a point of diminishing returns when increasing our use of technology returns more negatives than positives. This is true especially when it comes to communication.
I really do appreciate cell phones. They give the wife and I a certain amount of freedom when we go to the mall. We only need to call each other to know where and when to meet. And I loved cell phones when the kids just got their drivers licenses. But with cell phones came texting. And with texting comes a less personal way of communicating. Texting dilutes the affect we express and receive when conversing with others. This makes our conversations less personal, less human. We don't have to be fully there with the people we are texting and we are certainly not fully there with the people we are with at the time. With texting, we exercise an absence while being present. And yet, we only need to ask young people how many times do they prefer to reach out and touch someone through texting than through talking in person to see its growing effects.
But not only does texting filter out our personal reactions, it limits the depth of sharing and the contents of our communications. In texting, communication tends to be brief and abbreviated. So not only does texting filter out our emotions, it sifts out depth and reduces the amount of content we can communicate and then handle.
And if the cell phone was not enough, there is whatever device we use to connect to the web. Yes, there are advantages to the web. We can reach out and touch more people from around the globe. But the web is similar to cell phones in that it too acts as a strainer that limits the feelings that can be expressed and decreases the amount of content that can be considered. In addition, people can hide behind avatars when meeting others. This can make the web, especially the social networking places, the world's biggest disguise party where we, nor the people we meet, have to see what we prefer not to. So we meet new people and become attracted and attached to the costumes being worn rather than the real people wearing them.
Sherry Turkle, from MIT, has already written about much of what I described above in her book Alone Together. In the book, she describes not just what we are doing to ourselves now but how we are conditioning others for the future. And if our social life was the only part that was being revolutionized by the overuse of technology, we could live with that. But it isn't. Education is now beginning to rely more and more on the virtual presence of instructors than being up close and in person. Educational institutions are currently pursuing a greater reliance on communications technology to teach. We now have universities that revolve around students learning from professors who can only provide an electronic presence. These institutions reason that students no longer need teachers who are fully present to learn. In other words, students need less and less the humanity from their instructors. Students don't need teacher reaction to students' feedback and teachers' mistakes. On the other hand, these educational institutions also reckon that teachers need no reactions from their students to get their points across. As was said by one police officer from the TV series Dragnet, "just the facts" is all that is needed in education. In short, there is an ever diminishing personal communication and relationships between those who teach and those attempting to learn.
Certainly there is more in technology that is changing us than our communication technology. Turkle emphasizes in her book the point that not only do we make our own tools, they, in turn, shape us. And if we wanted to anticipate how our previously mentioned communication tools could change us, just think of the following. The technology we use cannot sense when we are frustrated or angry when it fails or frustrates us. In addition, like all electronic tools, we expect our machines to blindly follow orders. If we are shaped by these communication tools, will we become less and less aware of how those around us feel and will life consist of nothing more than mindlessly following orders?
But our use of technology is not the only culprit here, there is another. And one such perpetrator is business. Let's face it, business is highly impersonal, especially when we seek to maximize profits and maximizing profits is the ethic of the day. For when profit is king, people are pawns. And being pawns means that we are the most disposable piece in the game. And the more expendable people are, the more our humanity becomes moot.
In today's world, all that matters is the accumulation of the wealth that those in the in group can garner. And as Chris Hedges so aptly said about the wealthiest, the only word they know is "more." For those for whom this is true, all others become invisible.
In the movie, Analyze This, Billy Crystal plays a therapist to a mob boss. When he was suspected of having become an informant, the mob boss's assistant points a gun at him to shoot him while trying to soothe Crystal's character by saying, "it isn't personal." Crystal's character gave the wrong response. He said that it could not get more personal. It was the wrong response because when business dictates ethics, the personal no longer matters. People's needs are easily discarded. People who cost more than others are regarded as an inflamed appendix. People who have lost their jobs because their existence could no longer be financially justified can attest to how dehumanizing and painful their experiences have been. But their feelings no longer matter. In addition, austerity cuts that maintains tax cuts for the rich spreads this heartache to those in the community.
Those in business have a ready reply to charges of being inhuman. They say that for the good of others in the company, they must be quick to let go those who do not contribute to the maximizing of profits. Otherwise, the company becomes at risk and shareholders lose what they deserve because of the laws of gravity, as they apply in the business world. But what such apologists forget is that the economic system we worship is one of choice. We don't have to continue to rely on an economic system that so heavily leans on competition. That is we don't have to unless the desire for more has precedence over the humanity of others. And yet, not only are we worshipping our competitive economic system, we are allowing our business environment built on competition to metastasize into other spheres. And again, education is seeing more than its fair share of a business mentality being forced on it. So whereas in the past, we depended on a certain degree of inefficiency in education because of how much we learn from our mistakes, we can no longer afford to be so wasteful.
Though we could list a few more coconspirators in this crime of dehumanizing society, we will stop with the next one, authoritarianism. We all know how many Nazis tried to defend themselves in court against charges of war crimes. Many claimed that they were merely following orders. And those orders not only enabled many Nazis to practice immeasurably gross crimes against humanity, orders shielded them from the threat of feeling what their victims felt. Orders were their defense and following orders caused their conviction of war crimes.
But the problem with using the Nazis to illustrate our point is that we don't see ourselves as being on their level of evil and most of us would be correct here. So the authoritarianism we practice, though not preferable, can't possibly be dehumanizing. And that reasoning would hold if the Nazi atrocities provided a minimal standard of evil or if the negative effects of authoritarianism were restricted to evil rulers only.
What authoritarianism does is to numb us to the pain others feel when we follow orders because we zero in on our duties. In addition, it takes away our freedom. It threatens all who would question and criticize and thus pushes us to become automatons that, not who, wait for the next set of instructions.
Truth is determined differently in an authoritarian environment than it is in a free world. In the authoritarian world, truth is determined by the credentials of the one speaking. If the person's credentials are good, we tend to accept what they say without question. If, however, the person's credentials are inadequate or questionable, then we refuse to listen. Thus, our listening to a person depends on the pedestal on which they are standing. This high dependence on credentials by the audience is a reason why we see the kinds of political campaigns that we have in this country. When acceptance or rejection depends on credentials, more time is spent on building candidates up or tearing them down than analyzing their views and proposals. And when what they say is scrutinized, the public depends on the "experts' who are provided by either the government, the media, or some other institution for an interpretation than on their own ability to listen and think.
Since the 9-11 atrocities, we have seen a spike in authoritarianism in this country from the federal government on down. We allowed the President to tell us that we were attacked for our freedoms despite the death and destruction our policies have caused in the Middle East. That the President was scapegoating our freedoms for the attacks indicated that he was looking for more power, more authority. For if the President acknowledged that our abuse of power in the Middle East was what motivated the 9-11 hijackers, then asking for more power and authority would be an impossible sell.
The marks that governmental authoritarianism leaves on society is the vast reduction, and even elimination, of accountability our officials have by either their citizens or the world. At the same time, our government will hold all others more accountable and even has assumed the right to attack anyone anyplace at anytime. When it does attack, as it did with Iraq, it cites violation of either international law or the will of the international community as the justification for using force. However, if the world even attempts to hold America accountable, our government nullifies it by claiming that such attempts violates our sovereignty.
At home, the progression that has occurred starting with the Patriot Act through the 2012 NDAA is frightening. That is because abuse of power that has been exercised overseas is now being authorized for use at home. The government can now wantonly arrest whomever they want at will so long as they claim that those they arrest are terrorists. The checks and balances that would have prevented such an overreach have been nullified by new laws and procedures.
Why do we the people accept this more powerful and authoritarian government? Why don't more people speak out than already do? The reason is simple. Our government has immunized itself from accountability by injecting fear into the population. As a result, we tend to see our government's growing abuse of power as necessary to protect us from foreign enemies. In the meantime, many current arrests and other harassments performed by our government remind us of the world that existed in the movie Minority Report. And less we question our government for this rise in authoritarianism, we should note that many of our institutions, including our educational institutions and our churches, are doing their fair share to indoctrinate people into accepting our new nation's order. We might add to this that there is a growing tend for those who are charged with enforcing the laws to be brutal and act as if they have no accountability when engaging with dissidents. And the public's perceived need for more protection quiets their consciences for their lack of solidarity with those who have suffered police brutality.
Our world is becoming a more scary place and it is not because of a growing threat from the monsters under our beds or in our closets. Rather, it is becoming more frightening because of those whom we have trusted to guide us and because we have a greater acceptance of and trust in machines, whether technological or institutional, than we have in being human. And it looks as if we have no will to change.

This question was posed to a member of my Tech Club group by her 5th grade AIG students. It’s a great question and something for 5th graders to certainly think about as they look toward their future of high tech gadgets. I suspect that most people who are involved in Facebook, Twitter, on-line gaming, chat rooms, and the like, already experience a certain detachment to the “humans” they associate with on these networks.
But how does this technologically dehumanizing effect affect literacy? In my mind’s eye I see a little boy all curled up with mom in a dimly lit bedroom eagerly awaiting his “night-night” story. They’re snuggled together as she reads his favorite bedtime story, “Bony Legs.” It’s just scary enough for him to need the comfort and reality of mom’s closeness. She creates the characters with the intonation and inflection of her voice. The little boy can feel the suspense of the story and yet the safety of his mom’s presence. Because she’s read this story with him so many times, he is able to fill in some of the words as mom hesitates in order to allow him a chance to interact with the story. This is an interactive human experience.
By contrast, I see another little boy going to his bedroom for the night. His bed time story is read to him by a voice in the computer. He can hear the story multiple times, read in exactly the same way each time. Who does he snuggle with if he’s a bit fearful? He can interact with the story by saying the words or reading along, but who is there to encourage him when he’s correct or guide him if he’s not?
Both boys have had an experience in literacy. One, a very human experience, the other, a very technologically oriented experience. I would argue that the human literacy experience is a richer learning experience. My desire is that as we move deeper and deeper into this technologically advanced society, we continue to value the human experience.

Culture Passed On From One Generation To the Next

The Opening Salvo: Continuing African Cultural Transmission Ethics

"To manipulate history is to manipulate consciousness: to manipulate consciousness is to manipulate possibilities; and to manipulate possibilities is to manipulate power. Herein lies the mortal threat of Eurocentric historiography to African existence. For what must be the form and functionality of African consciousness and behavior if they are derivative of an African history written by their oppressors?

The history of the oppressed, as written by their oppressors, shapes the consciousness and psychology of both oppressed and oppressor. It helps to legitimate the oppressive system and to maintain the imbalance of power in favor of the oppressor. Eurocentric history writing is essentially an exercise in publishing apologetics for the European oppression of African people; often a gross and crude attempt to create and shape subordinate an inferior African consciousness and psychology.

It seeks to impose a social/historical/cultural amnesic tax on the heads of African peoples and thereby rob them of the most valuable resources — their knowledge of truth and reality of self; their cultural heritage and identity, minds, bodies and souls; their wealth, lands, products of their labor and lives.

"Eurocentric historiography is the most formidable ally of White racism and imperialism. It's treacherous role in this regard must be explored and reversed by an African-centered historiography, written by African historians, and dedicated to historical accuracy and truth — historians who are unafraid to speak truth to power.

"The clarion call for the writing of a restorative African-centered historiography — a critical undertaking — is a call for the healing of the wounds of African peoples; for African unity; for the freeing and expansion of African consciousness; for the re-conquest of African minds, bodies, lands, resources, and African autonomy.

"Every Eurocentric social institution conspires with Eurocentric historiography to handcuff and incarcerate African consciousness, to justify and facilitate the subordination and exploitation of African peoples." (Wilson)

"Until The Lion Has A Historian, The Hunter Will Always Be A Hero"... African Maxim

Post 2015 June 16 Trailing Murmurs: Structural Racism And History…

What I have come to realize is that we act and talk and behave as we have been conditioned in the Pavlovian mode. We are so incarcerated in our ways which have been cobbled into us over 500 centuries that with the advent of the Internet, we are now beginning to think, some of us anyway, how to unpack this imprisonment of our whole being and minds-and use the internet, social media, to analyze it and debunk it if necessary. But we need people who are prepared to cover this area and sector of life known as being a historian. We need to decode, we also must record these events as they are happening to us without fear or favor to no one, but truth to our people. Our writings cannot be neutral, as observed by Sankara.

We speak English because historically the British colonized many people and countries around the globe. But in our learning English, as taught to us by our colonizers, be it French or Dutch, we were infected with and affected by culture, traditions and ways of our colonizers. We were so beaten-down, that as we served our masters in whatever capacity, we worked assiduously very hard to be accepted, acknowledged and approved-of by our detractors. This was inculcated into our Ancestors, right on down to us in the span of 500+ years-to date.

If we say that we are supposed to write our own histories and stories, we simply mean that we use history as our consciousness, reality, reference and towards understanding the present and figuring if not shaping our own self-determined and autonomous future. Once we are born and grow, our lives is our own
Responsibilities. We have to understand history in its real and hard core facts. But we should not dumb down ourselves into thinking that it is the past and what's happening now in our lives has no relationship to the past or to history. My role when I am wearing my historical cap, is to flesh out the real facts that African History and World History Lives!

Here's a statement that was made by Henri Juno:

"I speak of resignation. It is necessary to the Blacks(Africans), for despite all that has been written on the fundamental axiom of the absolute equality of mankind, they are an inferior race, a race made to serve. It would be harmful to them to cover up this evident fact under a pile of sentimental eloquence. ... Christianity alone will make out of the Black(African) servant satisfied with his lot, for it alone can bring him to a free and voluntary submission to the plans of Divine Providence. ...

"Everyone, I will even say the whole of humanity, is deeply concerned that the "Negro"(African) should accept the position assigned to him by his physical and intellectual faculties. Without the arms of the 'Natives'(Africans), the gold mines of Johannesburg, which have built up the prosperity of South Africa, would cease to exist from day to the next, for it is these arms which accomplish the entire manual labor in the extracting of Gold.

"Then again, when we consider the immense plains on the coast of Delagoa, the valleys of the Nkomati, the Limpopo and the Zambezi, how could these fertile territories be exploited if the Blacks(Africans) refused their aid? In these tropical latitudes, the European dies of fever, especially if he starts working the soil himself ... and the White man's role is that of organizer, the Master, under whose watch must work million arms of the native population"

Historians job is to not only cite the most amazing or terrible or great facts about and done to Africans, with the new communications system and media, it is also our duty to marry that information to our contemporary realities. We do this by stitching together factual historical data, and narratives from the living and present-day people.

Whenever we try to configure our present social miasma and successes, some of us remember what led us to the present, and some of us who know, conveniently forget, and many, the younger ones do not really know nor understand why it is that their lives might all of a sudden turn topsy-turvy or unpleasant. Many of our children and their children have no clue why they are what they are today-successful or failing in life. As historians, who are on FB and other social media, we clamor for and try our darnest to inform the present reading African intelligentsia, to come home to the reality of the poor and suffering African masses. This is not easy, and there are still not many takers.

Back to Wilson under the "Opening Salvo," the reader would do well at this point re-read the quote at the beginning of the article in order to be able to taken in and let settle the discourse thus far. So that, what we do with history, is up to us and we are the ones in control/charge, so long as we understand what the uses of history, or the relevance and importance of history is to us. Many people always choose to ignore or jump their coming to terms and understanding history. Well, like the aphorism above, without historians, I am paraphrasing it now, "African people who have no historian, will have their detractors as their heroes"(My spin here now).

This is precisely what has happened to us. We know and can read what the Europeans have been saying to us over the centuries and we have already internalized it. It is what we are going to do with the knowledge and understanding we garnered from the citation above the likes of Juno, that we might begin to have alternate ideas and directions. How we decide, henceforth whenever we get exposed to our stories, histories and realities, how we are going to deal with that, is what we have to begin to use as a conscientizing mind-set-Change the link and break it-form a new way of thinking, seeing, feeling and knowing that is predetermined and applied and made possible by our ways of doing, thinking and living our lives anew.

If we read something historical, the essence of who we are that has been ignored and invisible, we become a critical mass consciousness by virtue of our knowledge and awareness of our stories and history, that, we really do not have to depend on one person historians, we become a nation of historically aware nation, and we are able to ascend one hurdle towards becoming a Nation.

How do we relate ourselves to own history? Knowing it for one is one way, and living it is another good way to get to begin to know more about ourselves, for ourselves, without apologizing to no one-Ever. This is important, but also, it is a motivation as to where are we headed in our ways of knowing about ourselves. We do not have to remember ourselves and be historical — just because in was June 16 remembrance. Post the celebrations, we are and still remain those troubled people who will need another holiday to jolt us back into awareness about our reality and existence. We only need to remember that remembering and upgrading and keeping up our awareness about our own history, is not a crime, but a good thing, and do it Everyday!

As the shot of history is ringing through the ether with this article, we should remember that history is not temporal, but a fast splurging past reality presently and hurtling into the future. That is history and how it affects and effects us today. We cannot relegate it to the back burner of Father-time, we are going to have to look for it, take, and live it. As historians, some of us, that is what makes us tick. It is not a profitable vocation, but it is the real deal-All of humanity is logged in into history, and it's about time we took our chairs or seats in the Earth Space planet and do what we are here to be and do.

What are we to do then, some ask?

In this case, I will defer to Asa:

"African socialization practices served to assist communities in day-to-day operations, collective survival, interpersonal relation, and basic quality of life issues. The content of an African education and socialization process contains many components which are modified according to the specific goal and aims of a community. It includes at least the following parts:

-Study the whole heritage of the community
-Study of the spiritual significance of everything
-Study of the whole life of the community
-Study of the whole environment and ecology
-Study of how to maintain health
-Building and understanding of MAAT(Balance)
-building strong community values
-Building fundamental and advanced skills
-Building strong social bonds
-Building a strong ethnic family identity
-Study of geopolitical and economic forces
-Building Respect for elders
-Building and maintaining effective nurturing systems for children

Asa continues:

"Our methodology for socialization follows from the above. Bonded relationship among teachers and students are the foundation for method. Collective efforts of students, teachers, families and communities are essential. Meditation and reflection is essential. Conducting socialization in specially prepared "sacred spaces" is essential. With all of this, critical reflection is a must.

"The character of traditional African education reflects thousands of years of development. It is unique in terms of its purpose,its methods, its content, and its outcomes.

" As African people, we occupy an environment that is physical, social, cultural, and above all, spiritual. While our survival needs must be met, African educators are admonished to "build for eternity," not merely for the temporal. Our exploiters see us merely as hard labor for their schemes as they scramble to attain power to manipulate and control people and resources…

"We must not be distracted by the false argument that, using African traditions in the modern or postmodern world" is useless and misguided, trivial, and irrelevant. Technology is a part of Africa's heritage, and even under conditions of slavery, colonization, segregation, and White supremacy ideology, Africans have been at the forefront of science and technology; in nuclear research, information technology, engineering, etc.

There is no conflict between high technology and African Traditions. The difference is that it must be balanced with the traditional values which emphasize that technology must compliment nature, not destroy it. ... Even in the face of our greatness in these areas, some Africans ridicule our concern with the value of elements of antiquity as a source of orientation and practice for today. These same Africans, however, raise no objection to Europeans constant and pervasive use of their ancient culture."

Asa has a penchant to encapsulate what I would like to say from an African centered point of view. The practice of history in contemporary times can be done effectively and successively utilizing and applying African cultural transmissions by combining present-day technologies and techniques with our traditional and customary/cultural bearings and moorings…

The upshot is that, we should not only get stuck in the celebration of ourselves in one day . It is a continuing and ever evolving process and we need to have some guidelines what it is; what we ought to be doing, or should be doing to lift our people out of sheer ignorance, out of poverty and into activism and collective action and rule.

This is what we should be doing, and learning from the best we can get from our own African Master teachers and go-getters. We need not be trying hard to be other people, we have enough on our life's plate to last us until the earth ends. What are we then waiting for then? We should share these ideas with as many of our people and help enlighten each other, than hoard knowledge and flaunt our being educated whilst our people languish in misery and ignorance. That does not make us any good, and we can only see tangible change with aggressive and powerful pro-active endeavors on our people and nation's part…

The Struggle Moving Forward Is Hard, But Continues...

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