This post is part of my blogged adventures in my first MOOC: massive online open course. #EDCMOOC
First week of the course is about technological determinism and utopian and dystopian views on the effects of technological development on society.
Chandler states that ‘ The technological determinist view is a technology-led theory of social change: technology is seen as ‘the prime mover’ in history. …particular technical developments, communications technologies or media, or, most broadly, technology in general are the sole or prime antecedent causes of changes in society, and technology is seen as the fundamental condition underlying the pattern of social organization.
So, In my own words, every change in social or economical sense is caused by technology. Do I think that is the case? No, not for a 100%. Like Foucault says, there is no single determining factor dictating society. But I think technology has a great impact.
Anyone in their mid thirties with a twitter and Facebook account would argue this is true. Why do I say mid-thirties? Because we know what communication was like before there was (mobile) internet. Communicating with others has changed in a big manner. And the economy, well… Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are economic powers to reckon with.
Where is this determinism heading: good or bad? That is distincted by utopian (great!) and dystopian (bad!) views on effects.
Just saw the movie ‘ Her ‘. Brilliant. It is very interesting to see how the movie takes the idea of technological advancements a step further. Samantha, the operating system that grows through her relationship with a real person, Theodore Twonbly, actually grows further to the point she has no interest in human beings anymore. Because interacting with humans is too much one-dimensional. Theodore himself grows through this relationship with Samantha. It helps him understand what went wrong in his first marriage (with a real person) and gives him the opportunity to let his ex-wife go.
I think that is clearly an utopian view on the impact and effects of technologic advancements.. Furthermore, there are a lot of similarities in the growth of Samantha with stories about the journey of the soul after death. According to a number of studies about ‘near death experiences’ and descibed in numerous books (Like Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven) souls go into a dimension where time and space doesn’t exist and a soul can be in one place and another place a the same time… from that perspective being human seems very limited. Samantha went into a dimension like that.
That would not merely be utopianbe but that would be technology leading the way for humans in their development. Crazy, huh?
The short movie Bendito Machine clearly represents a more disturbing impact technology has on society. It depicts a tribe being controlled by the next big thing, TV. And the people in the tribe worship the TV as a god from another dimension. Nobody In the tribe seems to see the tv as something they could have made themselves (like it actually is in real life). TV is god, and needs to be watched and worshipped. this is also in some way true. A lot of people spend all their spare time in front of the tv like zap-zombies. The tv needs to be watched and when they don’t like what’s on they often nag about it but instead of turning it off, they just keep watching. So the tv is on some sort of pedestal then.
What does the short movie ‘ Inbox ‘ tell me? Not really sure what to make of it and whether it represents an utopian or dystopian view on the effects of technology on society. The magic box represents the power of email or chat. The exciting exchange of messages with an unknown person. But it also makes clear that there is something that makes this person special, and that is because he is linked throught the paperbag. I’m not really getting the the view on technology here..it’s more about love than about technology I think.
Clearly, the short movie ‘ New Media’ is definetly very grim, hence dystopian. It shows some sort of advanced organism (or computer) controlling human beaings and the world, while the human being is entertained with tv. It reminds me of the matrix: computers control human beings and intoxicates them with some sort of dreamworld, in order to keep them calm and ignorant.
So what does all of things have to do with e-learning? Well, there are different orientations towards the web and e-learning. Utopian, dystopian and technological determinism can all be found in views on how technology and education work together:
Uses determination: technology is shaped and takes meaning from how individuals and groups choose to use it. Technology itself is neutral. An example of this way of thinking can be seen in the educational mantra: ‘The pedagogy must lead the technology’.
Technological determination: technology ‘produces new realities’, new ways of communicating, learning and living, and its effects can be unpredictable. This is the position Chandler explores in detail.
Social determination: technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. Questions about ownership and control are key in this orientation.
I think all of these views and orientations are real and present. But I lean most towards technological and uses determination. Technology produces new possibilities, but whether these possibilities are utilized depends on the usefullness for human beings. And our ability to recognize these abilities.. With that I mean the lack of insight in what new technological developments can mean for us. I reminisce when internet was just available for ordinary civilians. Many of us didn’t grasp what it could do for us… it takes some time for technological developments to be grasped and fully utilized by us..