"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

17 May 2007


I've been slowly making my way through Neil Postman's Technopoly, sandwiching it between novels and other lighter reading. It's very good; everyone who promotes the indiscriminant use of technology (it exists, therefore we must have it) should read this book and give it some serious thought. One of his most salient points thus far (I'm only in chapter 3) is that we rarely are aware of the far-reaching implications of technological change -- it's not just the addition of tools, but it affects the very way we think and how we see the world. And he makes a good case for our having reached the point where we no longer ask why about technology but only how -- it now exists for its own sake and not for ours.

He acknowledges early on that those of us who suggest that technology is not necessarily an unalloyed good are seen as curmudgeonly folk who fear and hate all technology -- which is obviously absurd, as we all use and benefit from technology each day. I know of no one who seriously wants to go back even to medieval Europe, say, much less live in a truly technology-free culture (even soap is technological!). Postman writes in response to this allegation, "My defense is that a dissenting voice is sometimes needed to moderate the din made by the enthusiastic multitudes." No kidding!

The line I really love from this first chapter, his apologia for the book, is this one: "A bargain is struck in which technology giveth and technology taketh away. The wise know this well, and are rarely impressed by dramatic technological changes, and never overjoyed."

So take that, technophiles. I'm not the only curmudgeon out here; in fact, I take Postman as pretty good company (and a lot better writer and broader thinker).

And no, I don't look forward to the mandated upgrade to Vista in my workplace. I'm quite content with all the familiar bugs and irritations of XP, thank you very much, and do not care to have a new set of them forced on me. And yes, I very well might be induced to go back as far as electronic typewriters, if I could ever learn how to type without fifty errors a paragraph.


Ralph said...

There I was, panic stricken, becuase the lesson I wanted to finish for our men's study wasn't showing up right in my Bible Software! Good Grief, or is that Greif... right the first time, should have just went with that and not made me look like a dummy, but then I'm so use to having a spell checker, I'm not sure I could effectively write anymore. The problem with the Bible Softeware, after I checked on an email server that has other users write in, was due to my upgrading to the new Internet Explorer, well I just hit the yes button when Microsoft upgrade wanted to intall it, how was I to know. Luckily I was able to update my software from the web, and life was good again.

Well that then brings me to the Bible software itself, it's so massive, that often I get stuck looking at too much information, and 4 hours later I scratch my head and ask where the time went... didn't even have a chance to eat supper.

Beth, I'm going to get a copy of that book... thanks for sharing. Where's the spell checker here? :)

alaiyo said...

Ralph, you will love it. But beware, it may turn you into another "loving resistance fighter" -- a phrase I have fallen in love with and may start using as a signature or something!

Thanks for dropping by. I'm afraid the spell-check here is plain old dictionary, though! :)