CS213 Lecture Notes - Lecture 21: Sleepwalking, Cultural Determinism, Cultural Studies

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13 Jun 2018
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Technology refers to more than useful tools → We must think of tools not just in terms of their
usefulness!
Handgun example - re territorializing handgun into school (train teachers)
The cultural politics of technology
‘The things we call technologies are ways of building order in our world. Many technical
devices and systems important in everyday life contain possibilities for many different
ways of ordering human activity. Consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or
inadvertently, societies choose structures for technologies that influence how people are
going to work, communicate, travel, consume, and so forth for a very long time…’
Hard to defy technological agency once it is set in place (distributed agencies of multiple
actors)
First....
How do technologies build order?
Ordering and organizing of habits - ways of being and doing things
These ways of doing things are more standardized and resistant to change
Second…
If technical objects contain many diff ways for ordering human activity, what does this tell us
about the relationship between culture and technology?
Technologies do not ultimately determine how they are used/organized
Interplay between culture and technology
Third…
If chosen structures for technologies influence how people work, communicate, travel, consume,
and so forth over time, what does this tell us about the relationship between technology and
politics?
Technologies are implicated in political arrangements that we live by
Technologies themselves should be participatory - rather than sleepwalking our way thru
changes in tech, people should be involved
Technology lends durability to cultural, social, political, economic relations
‘Because choices tend to become strongly fixed in material equipment, economic
investment, and social habit, the original flexibility vanishes for all practical purposes
once the initial commitments are made.’
Attending to technological choices but also existing structures
What holds back a technological politics?
When people think that the development of technology follows a smooth path of
advance predetermined by the logic of science and technique, they are more willing to
accept the advice of experts and less likely to expect public participation in decisions
about technology policy’
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Document Summary

Technology refers to more than useful tools we must think of tools not just in terms of their usefulness! Handgun example - re territorializing handgun into school (train teachers) The things we call technologies are ways of building order in our world. Many technical devices and systems important in everyday life contain possibilities for many different ways of ordering human activity. Consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or inadvertently, societies choose structures for technologies that influence how people are going to work, communicate, travel, consume, and so forth for a very long time ". Hard to defy technological agency once it is set in place (distributed agencies of multiple actors) Ordering and organizing of habits - ways of being and doing things. These ways of doing things are more standardized and resistant to change. Technologies do not ultimately determine how they are used/organized. Technologies are implicated in political arrangements that we live by.

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