Tuesday, May 02, 2006

blogs and the technological imperative


EDIT UPDATE: After publishing this post, I later realized that it marks my completion of 2 years, and my entry into my 3rd year, of blogging. I began this blog in May 2004.

Do you feel uncomfortable when an analyst harshly critiques a blog, web site, or software product?

Do you think whatever occurs is necessary, inevitable, fated, destined, and there is no resistance or reform possible?

Do you feel we should accept whatever happens, as the progress of science and human invention?

Do you think there should be no rules, no mentors, no sour, cynical examination of motives and methods?

Then I know what you are.

You're a believer in what's called ...


The Technological Imperative



"Those who work on the computing capacity of the machines are seldom interested in the full range of possible applications....In effect, we are committed to following a drift--accumulated consequences--given the name progress....

To this day, any suggestion that the forward flow of technological innovation be in any way limited by an idea or rational or humane planning is certain to evoke a harsh response....

The writers of a National Academy of Sciences technology assessment report repeatedly insist that 'our purpose is not to conceive ways to curb or restrain or otherwise fix technology'... Expresssions of this sort have become a kind of ritual oath, which anyone the least bit critical of technological affairs must administer to oneself before going any further....

Here we encounter one of the most persistent problems that appears in reports of autonomous technology: the technological imperative.

The basic conception can be stated as follows: technologies are structures whose conditions of operation demand the restructuring of their environments....a chain of reciprocal dependency is established in which the various aspects of a given technical operation overlap and require each other."

Langdon Winner
Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought (The MIT Press, Massachusetts and London, 1977, p. 99-100)


But is man a tool-making creature? Is technology the ultimate in tool-making?

No. Homo Sapien is a thought-making creature. Thought comes before Tool as Crutch and Clutch.

Billions of things have existed in Mind, and were never fabricated by Tool. Yet the Tool always had to exist in Mind first. Tool is thus, an artificial limb of Mind. Since Mind is superior over Tool, Mind has the authority to critique Tool, whether personal blog or nuclear bomb.

Should we just go ahead and move forward with stem cell research, dream recording and playback units, assisted suicide, abortion, obesity flesh removal surgery, genetically engineered vegetables, breast implants, teenage cosmetic vanity surgery, erectile dysfunction medicine, botox injections...

...just because we can?

Is technology a Pandora's Box, that, once opened, we have no power or authority to close?

Man is not primarily a tool-making creature. Plenty of other creatures use tools, and lots of other creatures are artistic and creative. Many other creatures engage in ritual and transmissible myth.

Humanity differs from other animals in only one aspect.

Transformation.

Only the human can be transformed into a Monster of Pure Evil (serial killers, cannibals, child molestors, war-mongers, weapons manufacturers, pimps, internet sex predators, politicians) or an Angel of Pure Light (think of the sweet, kind, caring people who've helped you in your life).

Blogs are a part of technology, and are even mentioned in television and radio commercials. ("I like to talk and chat. I also like to blog, too much, probably. Thank heaven, I have Verizon Freinds and Enemies Calling Plan...").

Shall we tolerate and praise any blog...by anyone?

Shall we not voice any concerns about the blogosphere, just let it drift off in any direction any rich or influential forces may wish to force it to go?

Shall we ignore the malicious, child-endangering, identity theft-prone, or deceptive commercial practices by some in the blog community?

Just hold hands and feel the love vibes pulsating moronically?

Or should some of us be like the snarly, super-opinionated, loud-mouthed pioneer bloggers of the dim past, all the way back to:

Tim Berners-Lee (What's New, 1992), Marc Andreessen, Justin Hall, Carolyn Burke, Michael Sippey, Dave Winer, Rob Malda (SlashDot, 1997), Doc Searls, Jorn Barger (Robot Wisdom), Cameron Barrett (CamWorld), Peter Merholz, Andrew Zeepo (Pitar automatic HTML blogging templates, 1999), Brad Fitzpatrick (LiveJournal, 1999), Joel Spolsky, Evan Williams, Matt Mullenweg, Chris Sells, Frank McPherson, Christopher Locke, Glenn Reynolds, Dean Esmay, Ana Marie Cox, Amy Gahran, Perry DeHavilland, Matt Haughey (MetaFilter), Rusty Foster (KuroShin), Richard Edelman, Bob Lutz, Hugh McLeod, Maddox, Robert Scoble, Paul Woodhouse aka Tinbasher, and Mark Cuban?

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