Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ From Tech Critique to Ways of Living — The New Atlantis

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The Standard Critique of Technology (SCT) is something like this: "powerful technologies come to dominate the people they are supposed to serve, and reshape us in their image.... (and so) these technologies constitute the device paradigm, which in turn produces a culture of compliance." The response is "to find and use technologies that, instead of manipulating us, serve sound human ends and the focal practices that embody those ends." A sound argument and response, suggests Alan Jacobs. So why does it carry so little weight? Because we have never learned to be free.

In short (and this is my interpretation of what he says): we're too busy trying to live our own lives (and the more we try to use machines to make our lives better, the more we become servants of those machines). His response, which takes us through a useful discourse on Taoism (and through Ursula Le Guin's essential Always Coming Home), amounts to something like 'live more simply'. But more than that (and I say this because my life has been steeped in exactly this discourse): instead of living to make a living, we should make a living in order to live. How we do that - how we find what it means, for us, to live (and live fully, and live contentedly) is the key to understanding how to live with technology). Image: Alphatu.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: May 22, 2024 6:06 p.m.

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