Last class we discussed readings from Langdon Winner, Norman Balabanian, and others that showed us how technologies, and in particular technological systems, have embedded within them certain social values.
We saw how technologies often promote certain values, or require certain social, economic, and political landscapes and relationships, sometimes without our even fully realizing that they do. Through looking at examples of Amish technological choices, we got some appreciation of how difficult it can be to take control of technologies in the service of a larger social or moral goal.
At the end of the class, I asked whether you thought there was some overarching social goal that Americans value as much as the Amish value fellowship, and whether that American social goal shapes, or can shape, our technological decisions. General class consensus was that Americans’ highest social value might be “freedom.” Balabanian and Winner, however, clearly show us how many technologies erode or deny freedom–particularly ones that have become part of our daily lives in industrial and postindustrial societies.
So, if Americans value freedom above all else, how does that square with our technologically-saturated society? Are these two things at odds? Or does it only seem so? Or perhaps, upon further reflection, you might come up with a different overarching social goal that seems to inform American technology? Write a concise blog comment of no more than 600 words that tries to answer these questions. Be sure that your response has an argument–in other words, make a clear, strong, and creative point in your essay that teaches us something new. After you’re done writing, please read some of your classmates’ responses and post a reply to at least one.
Your blog comments are due by 5pm on Wednesday, 1/30. Your comments will not show up immediately after you post them: I will approve the comments at 5pm 1/30 after everyone has had a chance to submit. Note: please put an extra line of whitespace between paragraphs in your essay, otherwise the text will run together (WordPress doesn’t recognize paragraph indentations).
I look forward to seeing your responses!