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Which clippings match 'Technology Is A Tool' 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 rationalityinstrumentalism • 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
28 OCTOBER 2013

The use of social media has the potential for good or harm

"Over the past months we've seen other destructive aspects of the 'net. From death threats tweeted to female MPs and journalists, to the tragic suicides of cyber–bullied teens. Growing concern about the web is understandable and reviews into safeguarding must continue.

Yet alongside healthy caution it's crucial that the technology itself does not become the focus of the blame. Technology is a tool and we get to choose how we use it. When we blame the tool we take the moral onus off ourselves, the user.

From the ability to control fire, to the invention of the wheel or the printing press, each has the potential for great good, or great harm. No tool is completely neutral of course – but we shape them far more than they shape us. That perspective is crucial & empowering."

(Vicky Beeching, 24 October 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)

TAGS

ad press • BBC Radio 4 • blaming tools • cultural technologycyberbullyingdestructive potentialdigital technology • disturbing elements • ethical considerationsFacebookgraphic violence • healthy caution • internet age • internet revolution • invention of the wheel • moral complexities • potential for good • potential for harmprinting presssafeguardingscrutinysocial changesocial mediasocial networking • technical instrumentalism • technological instrumentalismtechnology as neutral • technology industry • technology is a tooltechnology neutralityteen suicideThought for the Day • Vicky Beeching

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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