Thursday, April 22, 2004

Cultural logic and computing

Tom Coates: "It's not that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - it's that the aim of all technological advancement is to aspire towards the appearance of magic."

Update: I'm not sure I agree with this, but it reminded me of the common practice of black-boxing technology.

Genevieve Bell, Auspicious Computing:

It is interesting to contemplate why people don't talk about these nascent usages of technology for spiritual and religious ends. Why don't we celebrate these experiences that technology supports in our tales of cyberspace and technological utopias? Partly, it is difficult to talk about religion in America, no matter its form—it is contested ground, highly personal, and emotional. Religion is almost the polar opposite of how we think about technology and computing, things that embody rational thinking and logic. Our separation of religion and technology goes straight to the underlying assumptions about the kinds of cultural work that technology should, does, and could perform. In turn, these assumptions actively shape the narratives of technology's future—in both the visionary work of various technology gurus and in the specifics of technology design, manufacture, and deployment.

Yet religion shapes ideas about time, space, and social relationships in countless, often subtle, ways. In many cultures, it is impossible to delineate between religious practices and beliefs and society's larger structuring. As such, religious systems' cultural logic must necessarily impact the very ways in which new technologies are created, consumed, and, indeed, rejected. Our desire to bring new technologies into our homes; the persistence of values such as simplicity, grace, humility, modesty, and purity; and ideas about modernity, subjectivity, and the self are all implicated in shaping the contexts for new technologies. And if we ignore them, we shortchange our own experiences of the technology as well as our understandings of what it could be for others.

Well put. (via)


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