We worked with two Flip UltraHD video cameras, a Sony Cyber-shot digital camera, and iMovie in making this documentary.
I thought the chapter titled “Seeking Conviviality” was particularly interesting. In this chapter, Kelly discusses how we deal with technium. He begs the question if we have any freedom with all these different types of technology surrounding us. He explains that “the number of technologies to choose from so far exceeds our capacity to use them all that these day we define ourselves more by the technologies we don’t use than by those we do” (Kelly, 2010, p 239). I think this quote is interesting because often I feel overwhelmed by the number of technologies to choose from. We have so many choices of technologies to use that we now get categorized by the ones we don’t use. It was interesting how Kelly relates this concept to vegetarians. Individuals who are vegetarians frequently get more attention than those that are omnivores because they stray from the norm. This is just how an individual who for example refuses to use technology like a telephone or a computer gain more attention than those who do use these technologies. He furthers this thought by saying that “at a global scale, we opt out of more technology than we opt in to” (239). This is intriguing because I feel like I use so many different technologies everyday, but in the global scale, I hardly use any.
In his book “What Technology Wants,” Kevin Kelly discusses the evolution of technology, and although he makes many broad claims, I think he also provides a lot of good arguments for the place that technology has and will have in our lives. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of whether or not technology is making us into better humans. He says, “ The technium is reinventing us, but does any of this complicated technology make us any better as humans? Are there any manifestations of human thought anywhere that can make men better?” (Kelly 347). He goes on to answer this question saying, “How can technology make a person better? Only in this way: by providing each person with chances. A chance to excel at the unique mixture of talents he or she was born with, a chance to encounter new ideas and new minds, a chance to be different from his or her own parents, a chance to create something his or her own” (348).
Technology really is just an opportunity for us. As much of an influence as it has on our lives, we have the ability to influence it right back. We are not strictly obedient to the power of technology. Kelly asserts that technology provides the innovation, resources, and tools necessary to make great changes, and this is how technology can make us better as humans. This assertion also means that we have a chance to use technology to create even worse problems in the world. Technology, then, is not inherently good or bad for us; rather, it is the way that we choose to use it that will determine if it aids or inhibits the good. Likewise, rhetoric is not something that we say is good or bad; we use it to determine what is good or bad. Both rhetoric and technology are essentially creative, and we can take them in any direction that we choose. In the same way that we can use rhetoric to make people better, such as by advancing ‘good’ causes, we can also use technology to do the same.
Chapter eleven, Lessons of Amish Hackers, caught my attention because I honestly did not understand why we ridicule the Amish people because they lacked interest in technological advantages. Or vice versa, why Amish people feel that we are demonically possessed for using technology. It is not what the people want after all.
What does technology want? For starter, techniums want the attention, just as in nature the most poisonous plants possess sweet aromas and vivid colors. By proving technology to be beneficial for humans, we shall access these. Secondly, technium wants duration and breeding of its kind. By proving itself to be of good intentional, long use; humans will manufacture more techniums, the ‘breeding’ process will open opportunities for human talents to be revealed and extend life on the technium.
Kelly’s journey into the Amish community allowed him to conclude that the Old Order Amish people wanted contentment over all others, “fewer distraction, more satisfaction (229).” This contentment is of internal and communal aspect. This lead’s our author to a clear dilemma raised by the two culture, Amish and non-Amish. That “to maximize our own contentment, we seek the minimum amount of technology in our lives and yet to maximize the contentment of others, we must maximize the amount of technology in the world (238).”
Throughout “What Technology Wants”, he expresses the place value technology has in our lives. Technology is so intertwined with human nature and culture, that technology is a species in addition to evolution and is called technium. These ‘technium’ is indeed with us just as animals are occupying the world with us. Even though this new species emerge from the imagination of humans, due to a natural-selection type of process, technium took over and is now dominating us. Just as humans domesticated animals, technology is domesticating humans. How can something that is the product of the mind be enslaving of humans? Technology should have a limit and does what we program it to do. To each his own, technology by no means has limitations. It is contagious and is a revelation. Each technology is a parent of a new discovery and possibility. The other parent is human beings, greater technology will unleash human talents. The both of these are needed as humans continue to evolve according to ‘survival of the fittest’.
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.
In this podcast, I discuss how technology parallels rhetoric in the way that it creates meaning for us. We often discredit what is rhetorical – such as social truths – just as we sometimes discredit technology – like writing. I believe that the emerging new media produced by our technology will be just as influential as rhetoric, although it may take time for us to incorporate it into our daily lives.