Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Next Story - #2

For this post, I have covered both Chapters 2 and 3.

Chapter 2: Understanding Technology

Interesting chapter, but I only made a few notes.

Challies observes how technology interacts with society. Firstly, technology is ecological – it transforms society, rather than just adding to it.

But more than that: technology is also biological, our brains change in response to technology. People raised on books have markedly different brains from those raised on images and digital technology.

This made me ponder how much we need to continue to teach our children how to interact with the written printed word, yet also to interact with digital images and technology –so they can interact appropriately with both.

Chapter 3: A Digital History

This fascinating chapter covered the history of technology. Not from computers or phones as you might think, but much further back where for hundreds of years, the fastest any news could travel in the world was as fast as a horse could run.

The railways, followed by the telegram, the telephone and then the internet markedly changed the way information, news and data are communication and transferred.

He makes a fascinating comparison between a person bornpre-1980s and one born after. One born prior to 1980s is a digital immigrant they were “born and spent some of life pre-internet and pre-digital world” – you recall mailing letters, being out of touch because the phone was only connected at home, using printed encyclopedias,etc. You view a life offline very differently to an online life.

One born after 1980 is a digital native. You may see no distinction between line offline and life online. You can perhaps never recall a life without mobile phones. You may prefer digital interactions to personal interactions. A mobile phone is a part of who you are and you feel lost without it.

The internet dwarfs even the printing press in its impact on human culture, in its rate of adoption, in its immediate impact… (Chapter 3: 38:20).

Part 2 of the book (from ch 4 onwards) unpacks six ways life, churches and society have been changed by digital technology.

He finishes this chapter with a section called “Talk to your technology”. We should ask questions of technology, here are some he suggests:

1. Why were you created?
For military use? For hospital use? Mobile phones were created for business men in their travel, so it should not surprise us that it makes us always contactable. We often adapt it to fit our lives beyond what it was created for. A wise consumer will realise a technology has unintended consequences.

2. What is the problem to which you are the solution and whose problem is it?
It may be a solution to something that we would never consider a problem. (who knew it was bad to be out of touch with so many people? eg Facebook). Note also, it is may not be our problem at all. The new technology may just serve to raise the manufacturer’s profit margin.

3. What new problems will you bring?
Or who may be harmed by the technology? Perhaps our family, by overloading ourselves by the distraction of work or our mobile/laptop.

4. What are you doing to my heart?
We need to evaluate technology with this question. Is this device an idol? Do I want to be the first who owns it? Why do I really want it? Does it increase the power or control for another idol? Constant communication? Desire to find more things on sale?

Why do I really want this device? There are perhaps good and bad reasons.

This is my moment to fess up. I have been coveting an iPhone for a very long time. I could give you many good reasons why I want one: the ability to have music with a phone for safety while I run, the photo capability, a gaming device for the kids(doubtful whether that’s a good reason!). However, I also want one because everyone else has one. I’m jealous. For a person who spends less than $10 a month on calls, I don’t need an iPhone. It’s been helpful to analyse my heart on this one.

Which technology do you have or want that you need to ask these questions of?

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