Who has control, humans or technology?

Today I am finally taking some time to delve into the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC, and I am excited by the type of discussions that we will be having.  The first week is a “film festival”, and we are watching several videos that pertain to technology and digital cultures.  The first video is about 7 minutes long, and it contained very little dialogue   That being said, the imagery was fascinating and I needed to watch it a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  Bendito Machine III is a thought provoking flick, and I would encourage you to take some time to watch it (a few times).

The film suggests that there is a major ecological/social impact that is deeply embedded into our cultural obsession with technology.  This is clearly established in the films with the introduction to the massive amount of rubble from antiquated devices, and the lack of community engagement.  An offshoot of this type of behavior is evident my cultural context, and there are several anecdotes that I have used to make this assumption   Far too often we see hundreds of people waiting in line for the “next best thing”, when in actuality, their current device/product is only a year (or two) old and still performs the necessary functions.  Part of our culture has a cult-like fixation on technology, and some consumers make decisions based on the name brand of the product instead of evaluating if we need the technology.

To get back to the fundamental question of the week, are digital cultures more likely to be Utopian (desirable) or Dystopian (undesirable)?  If I were to base my assessment solely on the video above, I would be confident in claiming that digital cultures are dystopian.  The members in the community were characterized as zombie like, whim of the  technology.  The technology was inherently flawed, and yet still idealized as a godlike entity.  That being said, the technology wasn’t immune from failure and the members were quick to ditch the “antiquated” technology if there was a glitch.  The culture that was depicted in the video was not fulfilled and lacked happiness in their technology consumption, the members of the society were not fulfilled by the new technologies they acquired.  There is a major difference between the video and our reality.  We have the opportunity to make decisions that direct the path of our digital culture.  Are you making decisions that are going to make your digital culture Utopian or Dystopian?

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2 thoughts on “Who has control, humans or technology?

  • So are you asking the right question? What I mean by this is that a digital culture may just be a culture living in a different environment. Most cultures have tried on and discarded what they don’t want or need anymore. The issue in my mind is really more about the individual’s independent choice to go along with the culture and technology. If we teach people to think about their community and the ripple effect they make on it when they make decisions, then perhaps it isn’t utopia or dystopia. I know it’s the assignment, but I still think it’s the wrong question. What we should be asking is what’s the value to the learner or “culture accepter” in moving with a constantly changing world and environment? Technology is just a tool: a rock, a stick, a pencil, a typewriter, a keyboard, Google+…

    • Great question Jennifer, thanks for helping me think a little deeper!! I don’t think it is the wrong question to ask, but I do think there does need to be a series of follow up questions. How are you shaping your culture? What role do you desire to play within your culture. Are you willing to sacrifice your personal agenda for the greater good. Are you willing to make decisions that are counter culture?

      I agree with you, perhaps it is neither a utopia or dystopia, and the assessment is relative to one’s situation (digital subculture). Within the entire digital culture, there are subcultures that could be experiencing very different environments. I could be living in a perceived digital dystopia (which I was not too long ago), but with some guidance/education I could make changes to my digital subculture that would result in a more utopian digital world. That being said, I doubt there will ever be a purely utopian/dystopia digital culture.

      It’s early, hopefully my reponse makes sense.

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