Chapter 13 of Culture + Technology discusses how the identity of a user matters in regards to technology. Just as a person is placed into different circumstances according to their identity, technology is used in different circumstances according to the identity of the user and the identity of the technology itself. The authors believe that technology is unequally delegated, unequally prescriptive, and can reinforce and challenge particular notions of identity.
The argument that technology is unequally delegated cannot be denied because often, as the author quotes, “those able to go faster than others are assumed to be more important.” It is also pointed out that “the discriminatory nature of speed devalues the lives of many, and also creates scarcity, hierarchy, and exploitation.” The book also brings out the point that technological decisions are made by some and then forced upon others. One important point made is the “Sleeping sickness” disease found in Africa that is 100% fatal, but completely curable-for the right price. Thus we see, identity in technology matters. The second argument made by the authors is that technology is an equally prescriptive in regards to gender, race and class, and ability.
This division is sad but undeniable. The chapter concludes with the statement of “who and what we are is integral to the differential ways that tasks are delegated to technology, and the ways of this technology is prescribed identity roles back on us.” The main point supports the main idea of the book: identity is been a constitutive factor of technological assemblages, and a product of them.
In the 14th chapter, titled “Challenging Identity,” brilliant social psychologist Sherry Turkle
is reintroduced to readers and shears research about the seeming ephemerality of online identity. The author writes “it seems commonplace – it’s not entirely correct – that we can ascertain the identity of someone just by looking at them, or perhaps just by hearing them speak on the telephone,” and it is evident that technology compromises this practice. The Internet has become an “arena of creativity and play,” for most people and, as seen in many Second Life examples, it can cause real life effects. Another way technology challenges identity is by making its own place in existence with ideas like cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and artificial life. The author quotes researcher Christopher Langton as saying “artificial life involves attempts to one synthesize the process of evolution.” This approach to technology is “to create technologies that react to learn from their environment, therefore developing in changing as the result of their experiences of the world.” From this reading, I am more sure that technological culture is undeniably affecting my idea of who I am and how I think.