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Which clippings match 'Technological Utopianism' keyword pg.1 of 1
08 NOVEMBER 2013

The struggle for technology: instrumentalism versus culture

"This age–old conflict about social status remains at the heart of present–day struggles over the meanings of technology. On one side, defenders of technicians view technologies as creative expressions of human culture. In this view, technology is imbued with human values and strivings in all their contradictory complexity. I term this position the 'cultural' approach to technology. On the other side are those who see technological action as a narrow form of rationality that seeks only the best means for a given end. For such people, technology is something purely technical, essentially uncreative and devoid of values, subordinate to ends given by others. I call this second position the 'instrumental' conception of technology. ...

the discourse of technology favors the instrumental over the cultural. An entire tradition of philosophical critique is based on a reduction of technology to instrumental rationality. But technological enthusiasts also embrace the instrumental definition of technology. From their perspective, our modern technological civilization represents the embodiment of reason in the world, with new technologies as the vanguard of progress. Technological utopians like Kevin Kelly epitomize this instrumental perspective. In contrast, the cultural understanding of technology recognizes the creativity expressed in everything from steam engines to iPhones. But the cultural approach is definitely in the minority. This view is most common among people like me, historians of technology and other scholars who connect technological choices to specific aspects of culture and society."

(Eric Schatzberg, Rethinking Technology)

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TAGS

aesthetic creativity • aesthetic sensibility • aristocratic hierarchies • concrete material practices • contradictory complexity • craft skills • creative expression • creativity and craft • cultural concept of technologycultural practicescultural technologycultural understanding of technologyculture and society • Eric Schatzberg • fear of technology • formal knowledge • genius of the individualhuman agencyinstrumental conception of technology • instrumental means • instrumental rationality • instrumentalism • inventive genius • just a tool • Karl Capek • Kevin Kellylate modernitymaterial culture • means to an end • modern technological civilization • new technologies • non-technical qualities • out of controlprogress narrativesscientific knowledgesocial hierarchiessymptomatic determinism • technical elite • technical skill • technician • technological action • technological choices • technological determinism • technological enthusiasts • technological instrumentalismtechnological utopianismtechnology as neutral • technology discourse • technology is a tooltechnology neutralitytechnology transparency • transparent technologies • value ladenvalues

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
12 JUNE 2012

The Florida Project: Disneyland's fore-project

"During the planning and construction of Disneyland, Walt had been introduced to the basic concepts of urban design and slowly became a self–taught expert in the field. Such seemingly dry concepts as city planning and urban decay fired his imagination. When Disney's Chief Archivist Dave Smith catalogued Walt's office in 1970, one of the books on a shelf behind Walt's desk was architect Victor Gruen's The Heart of Our Cities: The Urban Crisis, Diagnosis and Cure.

'Walt was serious about that city,' Marty [Sklar] explains. 'And he had a lot of work being done at the time' to explore its viability. Walt asked for Marty's help to coalesce his thoughts so he could produce a film to explain the project, and, over the next several months, Marty wrote a script for a 24–minute film that detailed the 'Florida Project.' In the film, an ebullient Walt explains the concept of Epcot – a full–scale city of the future where people would live, work, and play in comfort. An international shopping district would re–create scenes from around the world, and American industry would have a showcase for the latest technologies.

Walt shot the short film in October 1966. Eight weeks later, he was gone.

The brief–but–potent film, however, lived on. It was shown a handful of times in early 1967 to key constituencies: the Florida Legislature, invited guests (for a packed presentation in a Winter Park theater), and once on statewide television. The film proved vital in convincing both the Legislature and voters that Disney's Florida Project should be approved, which it was. From the moment the project was given the go–ahead, Marty says, the Company's resources were dedicated to getting Walt Disney World up and running and to regaining confidence in the absence of its founder and leader."

(John Singh and Steven Vagnini, 07 June 2012)

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TAGS

1964 • 1964 New York Worlds Fair • 1966amusement parkanniversaryarchitectural conjecture • astuter computer • city • city planning • concept artwork • Disney World ProjectDisneylandEPCOTEPCOT Center • Epcot music • Epcot on Film • Epcot tunes • evolving city • Experimental Prototype Community of TomorrowFloridafuturistfuturisticfuturistic designgeodesic • geodesic sphere • idealismimagineering • Marty Sklar • never made it off the drawing board • noveltypavilionRay Bradbury • smellitzer • technological innovationtechnological utopianism • technology showcase • theme parkurban designurban planning • Victor Gruen • Walt DisneyWalt Disney CompanyWalt Disney WorldWalt Disney World Resort

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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