English Learning Life/Work

#EDCMOOC week one

Must technology either be a depicted as dystopia or utopia? Didn’t we get past that since the great dystopia of 1984 (back in 1948!) – well that was my thought at the beginning of the week, peeking at the curriculum for the Edinburgh U coursera course E-learning and Digital Cultures, aka #EDCMOOC
And I still hold the view that many depictions of technology these days are a bit more nuanced than just “technology is good” or bad, for that matter. Or it might just be, that I am in the camp that goes “it is not the technology, but what we do with it, that matters”. (Well not to the extent where I as the Americans assume it’s not guns that kill people. Not all technologies are neutral). But with a story like Inbox, I don’t think it brings much to an interpretation to try and argue that it is either a utopian or dystopian account. To me the “technology” (or magic?) in the story has a function – but I do not see it as being inherently good or bad. It put’s the two characters in touch, and it breaks (or the male character accidentally breaks it), but to me it makes little sense to ascribe an intention to the technology on it’s own.
But since the tropes of good or evil technology has been so consistently used, repeated and replayed in popular culture, it makes a lot of sense to start there, and Chandler’s exhausting list of deterministic views* is a good basis for discussing technology without getting stuck in that paradigm. So off to a great start, but I’m looking forward to looking toward the future in week two!
* Chandler, D. (2002). Technological determinism.

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