4.18.2006

Technopoly

We's movin' so fast ....the chips get smaller, but the invasion of the human life is bigger with each "advance" ain't it? I gotta get a new computer and figgurin' it out sets me to thinkin' 'bout what is given up each time I trade up higher and higher in Technopoly.

So I'ma readin' a book by a man who was given the George Orwell Award for Clarity in Language. Heh heh. Now thas' sompin' fer this Orwellian day and age, a George Orwell Award--I ain't mekkin' this up either, chickens.

Neil Postman is a "Communications theorist" (yeah, name POSTman--hee hee) and since bloggin' is communicatin', this book seemed a good idea. This heah is his main thought:

Humans and machines is tradin' places--humans are "programmed" or need "De-programming" while computer machines get "viruses." Humans may be "neuro-linguisitically"programmed without even knowing it, and machines report their own viruses and learn to talk like a human.

Because of this machine tyranny we live in--Technopoly--we doan really have deep exchanges of ideas or info since the machines shape our communications--the message has to have visuals, or fit in a 30 second sound byte...must be crafted in phrases that are catchy, even if what theys catchin' is not sound ideas. This has changed what we mean by politics, community, privacy, power, and yep, even truth. Why even the Yoo-knighted Nations is agitain' to make a policy of insuring every child gets access to a computer so they won't be no "digital divide" between rich and poor.

And we'uns is readily comin' to be happiest with the "virtual" rather than a reality. In fact, many folks is plum mad about reality and have moved right on into their virtual world. (To a man wif a hammer the whole world looks like a nail--to a man wif a computer the whole world is virtual?)

Technology is our buddy, shur 'nuff, as we'uns all want cleaner, longer life that the Big T makes possible...but it also rippin' up what makes us human and "undermines certain mental processes and social relations"...ain't that the dern truth!

And like the mythology of old instructed the ancients, we too are takin' in a great heap 'o data wifhout knowing much about it yet because we "have" it we'uns thinks we's wise when we ain't very.

As for relationships--Freud had some thoughts on technology and relationships--he wrote how the telegraph/telephone meant that when his child arrived at the far desitnation he had the "pleasure" of knowing child arrived safely....but if there had been no steam railroads to take the child so far way in a few hours time there would be no need of the telegraph or telephone to hear the child's voice...it would be heard at the dinner table.

And the frightening Austrian also noted that the technology of medicine brought long life--to what avail if it meant a long unhappy saga? Maybe when we knows we might live long we delay makin' the most important discoveries 'bout ourselves? Other's note how wise and brave teens of 1500s were--they did not prolong childhood into their 30s!! Is long life truly a better life or a delayed growin-up?

SO we are improving our means...but to what end, exactly? Our toys are mind-blowin', and war toys catastrophic...but the heart of man ain't one whit different than it was when Cain pounded in his brother's skull....it ain't the toys that count, it's what's in our hearts. Oh we might turn billions into automatons (there's that neuro linguistic stuff agin', or chip clones of real folks), and control them with bread and circuses and fer shur them computer chips will make it so easy to control billions of us...but I'm talkin 'bout real humans--what's in they hearts?

So, rockin' back heah on the porch while a thuderstorm tries to get itself goin' I'm wonderin' if all those utopians can get this message?

Man is not improvable in his heart as a species --youse can improve his life span with technology, or his freedom to choose his "destiny" wif advanced political systems and communications....but do it make any difference if Fred Flintstone clubs your haid wif the jaw of the saber toothed tiger in or the Jetsons frys ya derriere witha microwave gun from mars? Youse jes' as daid, ain'tcha? See? it's what's in the heart o' Man that is the question.

Think man has changed much in the fundamentals in 10 million years? I'm wonderin'.

8 comments:

Bird said...

Hey there Aunty Belle,

Neil Postman, eh? Unfortunately, he is dead, but he wrote quite a few excellent books and essays. I'm fond of his book, The End of Education and will be using it in one of my courses next semester.Amusing Ourselves to Death (a critque of the media) is also quite good.

I'm proud to say that the Orwell Award for Clarity in Language is the responsibility of the National Council of English Teachers. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show won the award last year.

The NCTE also gives out the Doublespeak Award - "an ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered." In the last few years, the Doublespeak Award has gone to members of the Bush administration - and to Bush himself. But to be fair, in 1997, there was a three-way tie for the award - Clinton, Trent Lot, and Gringich. Here's the link: http://www.ncte.org/about/awards/council/jrnl/106868.htm

Postman was a brilliant mind and an excellent writer. DO try his End of Education, Aunty - you might enjoy it.

Aunty Belle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aunty Belle said...

Hey Bird Beauty!! Yes, Postman is a fine mind--I done met him, actually at an event in Denver some years ago. I also read Amusing Ourselves To Death--very interesting, isn't it?

As for doublespeak and politicians...ain't that the whole
M O of modern politics?

Fact is, it points out what Postman has in mind, that ideas ain't easy to cogitate on as technology is overbearing and we get nuthin' but doublespeak from politicians, scientists, businessmen, even educational establishments as Postman points out in "Teaching as a Subversive Activity."

Fact is teachers can be deadly or saintly...we get back to the integrity of the individual, I guess. I shur would like to be takin' your course next semester when youse using Postman---sigh.

8:26 AM

Bird said...

Teacher as deadly or saintly is a concern with me.

My private agenda in the classroom is indeed to be subversive - but not necessarily in a political way - except of course, everything is political.

I want students to question and challenge and not take anything for surface value - to dig and dig. Sometimes this means arriving at a place where there are no answers - only confusion and doubt - a troubling place for students - they want things black and white, they want absolutes. They may well arrive at a personal absolute later on - but I think you have to go through a lot of questions and exploration - things have to get pretty messy and confusing before you can break thorugh to a well-founded, well-reasoned opinion.

I think this sort of philosphy of teaching is in some ways subversive to my students - who often arrive on campus with the notion that the teacher is the fountain of all knowledge - the content expert. But that's not what I am at all. I am an "expert" at writing craft and at faciliating thinking - that's all.

Students also seem to think that knowledge is also absolute, immovable, fixed, static. They have to go through quite a process to understand that knowledge is constructed and develops, shifts, etc. Tricky ground.

But I do go on....

OFf to fly through more blue skies - the morning is LOVELY here!

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

good one aunty. nobody at starbucks talks to each other theyre all wi-fied and in their own world; neighbors dont know anything about each other -step outta your car and into the house, log on, make dinner, eat, sleep and repeat. so they cant be aware if say, the kid down the street gets into a strange car.....guys looking at girlies on the puter and finding the flesh and blood in their own house too difficult; leaf blowers instead of that occaisional sound of rake over pavement; emails now no hand written beauties to temper the stacks of bills..........yeah its a more convenient world. but it is less civilized. no question about it.

/grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Aunty Belle said...

Oh Dawg, youse onto sompin' important--let's us start a movement, have a real interaction each day with someone NOT necessary to your immediate task, send a real note in the mail, hum a tune to the birds, make a real dinner, not a frozen plastic simulation of earthy goodness, dig in the earth itself to plant life, do someting REAL not virtual!!

velvet acid tongue said...

hey there Auntie Belle,

like K9 said, good one. know what this makes me think of? kids. the way they can't seem to find their imaginations anymore - everything bein' so automated ... push a button fer this, push a button fer that, fer heaven's sake, they don't even hafta move to change the channel on the TV! yes ... convenience is overtaking civility ...

Aunty Belle said...

Howdy V.A. Tongue, uh huh..youse right--kids doan have imaginations noranyone to hep em/ if they do--used to be a bis sister would hep you play house or a coison would bait your hook and then you could sit on the c=]dock and make pictures out o' the clouds...

But truly, sweet pets, we's loosin' out community feelin' we's all so virtual rather than real--stead of jawing on the porch wif real folks we's alll tucked into a cubbyhole tapping on keyboards...this ain't right.