Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Defined by technology

Kevin Kelly gave a thought provoking presentation recently, available here He raises the proposition that we are no longer defined by the technology we use but by the technology that we do not use.
I disagree, not only with this idea, but with his personification of technology. Technology is not animate where it can want anything. Nor does it alter the environment. Those who implement the tool of technology change things, desire outcomes, direct outcomes.
Humans fear inanimate objects becoming conscious and overpowering us. Great scifi books, tv shows, & films are based upon this fear. That does not mean it is a well-founded phobia. Phobias are often not based upon rational evidence.
The momentum behind technology is not its own consciousness but human consciousness. The transformative power of technology, which even Kelly acknowledges, is an even more urgent reason for us inside the echo chamber to ensure equal access to the globe's citizens.
Collective knowledge of all those global internet users is vast and already surpasses anything we have known. It does seem to make us more equal.
We are not dealing with a flat world here, we are closer than ever before, but the wrinkles in time and space are not being ironed out. They are scrunching up as the fault lines of the digital information technology erupts exponentially across our radars. This is how the collective knowledge is increased, by all people from all walks of life touching each other in those wrinkles, not really by a flat world.
Relationship is key in our communications whether online or offline. We seek to develop those relationships between humans, not between animate and inanimate objects. Ewan asks when do we reach the tipping point. It is not relevant when that point is reached or surpassed. What is relevant are the relationships. We are created for relationship. The possibilities for relationships are exponentially increased as humans discover, utilise, and become proficient at using the technology we call the internet.
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3 comments:

Ewan McIntosh said...

For what it's worth, I also disagree with his hypothesis but for different reasons. The tipping point I was talking about is different from the one whose context you've put me in here, I think. I was talking about collective intelligence gathering more than sheer scaling up of use of tools and production of information (which is was I'm picking up on here).

I disagree with his point for the same reason as George Siemens countered with: the whole internet has the power of one human brain, but there are a lot more users of the Internet than one.

Durff said...

I would like to read more about your opinion. Have you written it down?

Natalie said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I love that we can build relationships that span across state and country borders now a days. I am at awe of the vast power embodied by the body of shared knowledge that exists within more people's reach, but I still wonder if all of this can be used against us. Few people are asking this question. How can we insure that this information is always available for those who want it? How can we all harness the power for innovation and change? I suspect we find protection in the relationships (virtual and not) that you are talking about.