… are the categories in which you could sort society when you are talking about technologies. So it’s there are those who have a good, a bad or an undecided opinion. The first week of EDCMooc was primarily a look into the past. We are especially concerned with the question of how different sources assess the digital development, whether they see it with rather an utopian or dystopian point of view. And how our own position on this is. Even if you believe that people who participate in an online course can hardly have a negative opinion about the development, there is still some finer aspects that have been found. At the end of my article I linked more blogs from other students.
A brief explanation of what exactly goes under utopian and dystopian vision:
|Utopian claims||Dystopian claims|
|Information technologies based on electronic computation possess intrinsically democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ democratic properties or dispositions).||Information technologies possess intrinsically de-democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ anti-democratic properties or dispositions).|
|Information technologies are intrinsically neutral, but inevitably lend themselves to democratizing global forces of information creation, transfer and dissemination.||Information technologies are intrinsically neutral, but inevitably lend themselves to control by de-democratizing forces (hardware and software ‘ownership’ equals anti-democratic control).|
|Cyber-politics is essentially a pragmatic or instrumental task of maximizing public access to the hardware and software thought to exhaustively define the technology in question.||Cyber-politics is essentially one of resisting and perverting the anti- democratic effects of the technology in question.|
As for thought, there were the following videos:
1. Bendito Machine III:
This short film tells the story of technological development as a history of worship and ritualization. Any new technology is hailed and celebrated. Previous, now outdated technology is immediately disposed of readily, there is already a huge garbage dump, on piling up more and more.
What has struck me: The people do indeed a great effort to get to the deified technology (at the very beginning, in the first 20 seconds, the little man is climbing uphill). Likewise, it is hard to get rid of the old technology, they must be taken to the scrap yard, be carried there, be drawn. In minute 1:54 the first human is being overrun. Nobody is taking care of them. Well, watch football games together and do gymnastics exercises, but there again, people are getting kicked. Not much human interaction is seen, the film shows a very negative view towards the technology, that we are dehumanized and put apart.
In minute 4:11 one of the people flees to climb the mountain, it’s time for a new object of worship, which replaces the old one. And again people are overrolled (overwhelmed?) by the technology. And it comes worse. In 5:52 minutes not even a human being is to be seen. The unit stands alone at the center. At the end of the film one sees only the huge pile of junk. And that is what the film is trying to say – maybe that’s all and what is left of us and our great inventions: a pile of junk. As a final melody is very indicative only of the advertising jingle for Esso, I understand it as an allusion to the fact that the technology also consumes more resources and that they exist only in a finite extent.
The film has a clearly dystopian statement.
The second movie is so much more vivid: people and their emotions are obviously the focus. Already at 0:30, there is the first eye contact between two people, but the girl is simply annoyed. The young man with the glasses will bring a smile as he carried his clumsiness throws down the pants, he actually wants to buy. In general, he seems to be very uncertain, it embarrasses him that he can not hide the purchase in a shopping bag. Such as saving appears the tempting red gift bag!
Arriving home, both of them, Boy and girl find out there is something unexpected in their bags. While the boy is looking at the Teddy quite surprised, the girl throws the male underwear away from herself. It seems, she does not have the best connection to men. In the store, she was annoyed by eye contact, at home she was annoyed by the messages on the social network. And then she holds a pair of underwear for men in their hands, where they’d rather have the child’s cuddly attribute.
But when the underpants suddenly disappear out of the bag, she „sends“ them more items. Uniquely feminine objects, since at the boy’s bag only cosmetics arrive … He sends her back her things and starts the communication between the two. Now we also learn his name at last, the young man is called Karthi. Hers is Priya. As she tells him that she’s bored, he accepts the appeal and entertains her with a card game. It’s that simple, she expresses a need and it will be fulfilled. By the way I do like to point out that playing games together is an extremely positive impact on the social skills and communication skills.
And finally, both overcome their inhibitions, they dare to meet in real. Karthi is so enthusiastic that he unfortunately damages the bag. Since all this is about dealing with technology, I understand the crack in the bag as a symbol that the device which has been used for communication, has been damaged, destroyed or lost. The may mean that the smartphone or tablet had been dropped and broke, it can be somewhat abstract the Internet connection, which breaks down. Anyway, all of a sudden no communication is possible, because humanity took so grat reliance on the technical equipment that supposedly there is no other way to keep in contact.
But it is possible! Karthi goes out of his apartment, out to real life and it’s not long until he finds Priya. The broken bag is no longer needed. Perhaps that is why it teared because it is no longer needed, and because it was time to look for the real, personal contact.
I see the bag as a symbol of the internet: you can talk to others, superficial if you want or even more intense when you realize that someone has similar interests. It makes many things possible, which otherwise would no be theret. But I also notice a slight criticism: Human, do not only rely on technology. This makes the film a mostly utopian work with easily dystopian aftertaste.
This film is about the interaction (or the counter-play) of nature and technology. Similar to Bendito Machine there is no human verbal communication. The sound consists only of animal and technical sounds. Human communication is limited to sending SMS until the middle of the film. Whether personal or professional: for the main part, the human is all alone. Only at the subway station, there is a physical contact. Oh no, even that seems to be inhuman, the assistant takes the man’s hand, she breathed at it and rubs it, as has been done in older times with coins when using a vending machine.
The contact between the man and the woman seems to be possible only very briefly, it takes extra-terristical circumstances to feel relaxed and to hold hands. Then they have already to return. The next morning, seems like everyone else, but the man does not wake up alone… After an apparently pleasant experience folliows a sad moment when you first think that the bird died and the end of the film might actually be this very scene where the man is reflected in the eye of the bird. When he recognizes himself in nature. In fact, the final scene is the one in which the bird gets up and flies happily with thereof with other birds.
I have thought long about whether the main message of the film is utopina or dystopian. I think in this case it really is something in between.
The film even goes further than Bendito Machine: We see no people at all. Their houses, yes, but you can only see how thick, technical lines go in (or go out of the houses which brings the association with a huge sci-fi monster that has entrenched itself in the house and lies in wait for prey and its menacing tentacles penetrate the windows). In minute 1:30 finally a television noise is to hear. That’s a sign that there are people, right? But the man whom you see then is reduced to its eyes, we do not see more of him, and maybe there is not more of him. He gazes listlessly in the gloomy world, coupled with a thick cable.
A creepy idea clearly dytopian because no advantage by the technology is suggested.
Personally I think that it always depends on what the man does with the technology. The technique does not destroy social contacts on its own. Only if we do not allow ourselves a „real“ life any more. I do not like to any longer distinguish between real and digital life. Because everything that happens is part of life and we fulfill our social role and social needs with help of (and sometimes despite) the technical means. This is the message I take out of these films. Technology alone also does not generate social contacts. People must also want to deliberately use the technique to use it for that purpose. That’s not only valid for human relationships, but also for learning and working.
And one last video, which is a good transition tothe look into the future in the next post:
How do you feel about the development of technical and digital world? Threatening? Inspiring?
- #Edcmooc: Wk 1 „A slice of technology with a dollop of utopia on the side!“
- #edcmooc Day 2
- Prensky: Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
- Chandler: Technological or Media Determinism
- Dahlberg: Internet Research Tracings: Towards Non-Reductionist Methodology. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 9/3.
- Daniel: Technology is the Answer: What was the Question? Speech from Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa, Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, 27-29 May 2002
- Noble: Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education