Home > Uncategorized > Naturalized technology and rhetoric-blog post #3

Naturalized technology and rhetoric-blog post #3

A passage that I found to be very interesting is on page 37 of What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. This passage occurs within the context of Kelly describing evolution and the technologies that both evolved as a result of evolution, but also continued to encourage further evolution in both our human species and the technologies themselves. Kelly articulates an idea we have previously discussed, which is that technology is deeply ingrained within us. Yet, he takes this idea further by saying that we are evolving alongside technology. “We are not the same folks who marched out of Africa…Technology has domesticated us. As fast as we remake our tools, we remake ourselves. We are co-evolving with our technology, and so we have become deeply dependent on it. If all technology-every last knife and spear-were to be removed from this plant, our species would not last more than a few months. We are now symbiotic with technology” (Kelly, 2010, p. 37).

I think that this passage is both eye-opening and a little scary at the same time. It essentially claims that technology is naturalized within our existence, which is a concept we have previously discussed both in class and in readings. Yet, it takes the idea to a different level by claiming that not only is technology ingrained within us, but we are growing and evolving right along with it. I find this passage both fascinating and very true. As we’ve discussed, we think of technology as something we control or something that is separate from ourselves. However, I think Kelly is very right when he says that to take away all of our technologies would be to begin the demise of humanity. Not only are we dependent upon technology, but we are changing because of it. Technology has made us the way we are today. We would not eat, communicate, write, act, work or play in any of the same ways if not for technology. Thus, it is not something separate that we control, but essentially technology is just like us. We are here because of it, and it is here because of us. It is growing, evolving and changing just as humans have been for millions of years, and it is now doing it right along with us.

I also think this idea applies to rhetoric as well. It lines up nicely with the strong defense of rhetoric, which claims a similar concept that Kelly discusses in regards to technology. In the strong defense, rhetoric is not some distant method we use to create “bad” or “good,” but rhetoric is also deeply ingrained within us and deeply human. As a communicating human, one cannot not create rhetoric. Some instances are more profound or obvious than others, but everything one says or does creates some form of meaning that is communicated to another individual or to an audience and is thus, rhetoric. I think this concept applies to both rhetoric and technology, and is a very unique idea to grasp, yet it’s one that I find very intriguing and relevant to this course.

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  1. September 25, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    Great quote selection (I like also that you gave us some context for it): it really does, as you say, connect with what the class has been talking about. Specifically, I think this quote works really well with Ong and his assertion that writing is a technology that restructures thought. The idea that technology “persuades” us and changes us, as it were, is one we will work with some more. You might find this story pertinent here.

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