In Culture + Technology, author Jennifer Daryl Slack begins with describing the scene where her book will take place. Any practitioner of communications knows that, when telling a story, you are to begin with exposing general background for the audience. Before discussing any thoughts that she or her co-author, Macgregor Wise, have about where society is with technological progress, chapter one: Progress, goes back to the beginning of contemporary U.S. society and discusses a brief history including the industrial revolution and how the first English settlers, in the name of “progress” and “manifest destiny” brutally oppressed an entire people group and culture, a parallel of what, in my opinion, might abstractly be just like today’s digital divide dilemma.
The concept that made an impression on my everyday thinking was the part about determinism that hints at natural selection. The not-so-abstract thought that forward development is moral betterment is something I have never considered before reading this chapter. Though I consider myself a life-long learner (Ooooo..What a hip word right now!) I don’t necessarily desire to do so for the sole reason of having more financial freedom, but having more … mental freedom? I desire, almost in an ingenuous way, to know things for the sake of knowing them and learning everything I can about the world that I have the privilege to live in for only a brief time.
This entire technological determinism discussion may circle back to an argument of Slack’s thoughts on moralism, though I cannot know yet because I haven’t completed the book, in which case I would have to say that I hope Slack addresses (probably in a more studious and academic way) the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility.” I’m interested to see what the writing mainly points to, but so far I completely love Slack’s thoughtful commentary on how technology shapes culture.