Thanks to ‘flu (or a really bad cold depending on who you talk to) I’ve been unable to get my head around the materials for the Digital Cultures course I am taking on Coursera (see last post). But today, despite fuzziness, I delved in and started looking at the media that’s been posted. This video is on the first module about Utopian and Dystopian views of technology and what they are saying about the impact on our culture.
Clearly the heading of my post gives you a flavour of what I think this is trying to express. A quick surf of the discussion boards suggests that others would agree: this is pretty much dystopian and suggests that cultures are technologically determinist (technology drives culture). I find it interesting to observe in myself the assumption that the one (dystopia) is a result of the other (technological determinism) – I’ll have to watch that, because I think it’s a huge leap to lump those two things together.
Apple as the bringer of doom
What I also found interesting is the number of people who interpreted Bendito Machine III as comment on Apple and their tech supremacy – the worship at the Altar of iOS or swearing on the Holy Writ of Jobs. Or at least people seemed to use it as a way of expressing already held beliefs.
I’m an Apple fan, I’ll admit, but if you (like me) link technological determinism with dystopia, then link that determinism to Apple, you are possibly suggest that Apple (insert: Google, Amazon, Tech company of your choice) will bring about dystopia. That’s another leap to watch out for, I think.
The discussion about determinism and culture will go on and I am sure I will flex my views (I am learning after all) – also I have yet to delve into the other media and reading associated with the course and perhaps this will challenge me further.
But one final thought about the video.
The little guy who climbs the mountain, prays to the gods/aliens and gets beamed a new piece of tech? The same guy who despairs at the television driving the actions of the society he is part of? The same guy who in despair climbs the mountain again to get The Internet? Who is he in this dystopian view?
Is he the early adopter? The one who proselytises the splendour of the iPad, the Kindle, the Blackberry Z10.
Or, more scarily, is he us: the commentators on culture and technology? And does that mean we are the bringers of the next piece of stuff? The evangelists, the learners and imparters of knowledge. Who will ultimately see the negative impact of that new technology on our culture and strive to find the new thing to change it for the better.
In the end, is what we are doing – right now, on this course – what Bendito Machine describes.