Friday, January 12, 2007

mirror of technology

Let's see. So there was Frankenstein. He had a big bolt coming out of his neck, and hurt people through his clumsiness. Then there's the robot, a silicon Frankenstein. As computer technology developed, we got cyborgs.

These give us the scary side of the people/technology relationship. We are afraid because we are more than these things. Most (or what I've seen, anyway) literary representations emphasize the dystopic aspect. But under the radar, incrementally, we are changed. We talk of memory loss, information processing, local defeaters of the second law of thermodynamics.

The inspiration for this post is the word cybernetics. It has been a dirty word that I've been afraid of. It has represented for me an expansion of our world into the digital that seems so inferior to the world it partially displaces. But that is hysteria speaking. Norbert Wiener conceived the term to be a combination of control theory with communcations.

Control theory. Another term that hammers against my sensibilities. Images of 1984 rise up, questions of disparities in relationships present themselves. If I read a textbook on control theory, will I forever give up the possibility of having equal relationships? Am I a doctor Frankenstein or Faust? Obviously an area of sensitivity... But when I start to read, I see that it is absurd to not have the concept of control system. My heater is a control system. Our bodies have all sorts of control systems (homeostasis).

I guess I'm trying to get beyond distopias. I am a part (or becoming a part) of the giant technology developing machine. If we understand the relationship we have to technological change can it be less disfunctional?

Check out this post on the way in which blogging can change you. I'd like to say that we need to claim an identity so that we have more say in where technology is taking us. But maybe that just happens naturally in the process of deciding that a relationship is important.

Regarding this last link, I'd say that I certainly haven't had the same experience in my small effort at blogging as Bowers of myDD. He says that his internal dialogues have quieted down as a result and he feels to be less of an individual, more a part of a collective. For me, its more just like having a productive outlet for ideas. I think that without the internal processes of sitting on something for at least a little while, you don't add very much to a discussion. All you do is react with preconcieved ideas, which is good for a time, but in the end turns you into a sort of cisco router... Maybe the router is the new Frankenstein/robot/cyborg??

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