Sunday, January 30, 2011

So, What is "Inevitable" Anyway?

Reading through Kelly the last few weeks has affirmed my beliefs in "technology." When I say this, what I mean is - I believe in technology. I believe that it has made our world better and will continue to help us advance as a country in an ever-expanding technological world. The one thing my etherpad group and I talked about in class last Tuesday was how to define technology. What we decided on was that technology couldn't really be defined as a thing. And, the more I think about it, the less tangible technology becomes to me. Technology has become more of an idea than a computer or fax machine.

The thing that is starting to trip me up is the term "inevitable." On one hand I think, of course it is inevitable. Technology is just going to keep continuing and moving forward. But then I think, how in the world can it be inevitable without human hands to keep making it. Technology cannot make itself - well, not yet, anyway. And, until that happens, I don't see how it can truly be inevitable.

The Webster Dictionary defines inevitable as "incapable of being avoided or evaded." Kelly writes on page 272 "But, if the trajectories of the technium are long trains of inevitability, why should we bother encouraging them? Won't they just roll along on their own? In fact, if these trends are inevitable, we couldn't stop them even if we wanted to, right?

Our choices can slow them down. Postpone them We can word against them."

Here is my question - and maybe I am just putting a little too much thought into this. So, what Kelly is saying is that regardless of what we choose, as humans, there is nothing we can do to stop the inevitability of technology? Not even if every single one of us decide we are fed up and will never make anything ever again - technology will just continue to evolve without us? Obviously this is extreme - but, I think there has to be some limit.

Then he goes on to put inevitability in different terms - for us to imagine what it would have been like to have accepted the inevitability of political self-goverance or massive urbanization ... maybe it wasn't accepted because it wasn't inevitable. If it was inevitable, it doesn't seem like we would have had a choice of whether to accept it or not.

Since Kelly says this inevitability is less like a supernatural force and more like an "urge," he lists out 13 facets of that urge. But, I could only find 10 (What am I missing?):

1. Complexity - "What's more complex, a Boeing 747 or a cucumber?" And how do we measure that? p. 274
2. Diverstiy - the rise of diversity has been uneven, but "the trend toward diverstiy is further accelerated by the technium." p. 284
3. Specialization - "Evolution moes from the general to the specific." p. 292
4. Ubiquity - def. the state of being everywhere at once. "The consequence of self-reproduction in life, as well as in the technium, is an inherent drive toward ever-presence." p. 296
5. Freedom - "free will precedes even life." p. 307
6. Mutualism - The natural world is a "hotbed of shared existence." p.311
7. Beauty - "Most evolved things are beautiful, and the most beautiful are the most highly evolved." p. 317
8. Sentience - def. endowed with feeling and unstructured consciousness. Intelligence is subjective.
9. Structure - "Even when w create something that is information based to start with, it will generate yet more infomration about its own information. The long-term trend is simple: The information about and from a process will grow faster than the process itself." p. 335
10. Evolvability - "Natural evolution is a way for an adaptive system - in this case, life - to search for new ways to survive." p. 340; changeablility

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is "Technology" anyway?

So, for my first 516 blog, I have a hard time deciding what to write about. My fear with writing a blog is that I will be boring and nobody will care. Which is funny because I named my blog, "With a Little Imagination." Well, whatever. I guess that is something that I can work through this semester!!

With that being said, while starting to read Kelly's book, What Technology Wants, I started to think to myself "What is 'technology' anyway?" This is an interesting question because the answer seems so obvious (or, at least, it did to me before I starting reading Kelly's book). It seemed to me that "technology" was my DVR and the newest computers, but my scope was very limited. Kelly started to talk about technology as a culture right at the very beginning of his book. And, although this does seem fitting, he says that "culture" is too small. As Kelly works through what the definition of technology could be, he finally lands on how he refer to technology in the rest of his book as, technium. He defines "technium" as "it includes the generative impluses of our inventions to encourage more tool making" (p 12). All of this made me wonder, could the definition of technology evolve as the technology itself does? Certainly, what people thought of "technology" in the old days (although the term is relatively new) is different from how we view it today. Maybe the point is, we will have a brand new term in hundreds of years for a way to define our innovations.

This led me to more questions as I continued to read further. Like, as Kelly mentions, "Where did Technology come from?" And, since language seems like the catalyst for for 'technology,' how did it start? Who figured out that whatever sounds could come out of our mouth could be formulated into words and things that made sense and could be communicated - and the biggest question - who had that kind of patience?!?!

I guess what I am saying here is, I am getting some questions answered, but there are also a lot more questions that are coming up. Which is good - I was hoping for that.