Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Neil Postman's Ten Principles of Technology


1. All technological change is a Faustian bargain. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage.

2. The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population. This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others.

3. Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes two or three powerful ideas. Like language itself, a technology predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments and to subordinate others. Every technology has a philosophy, which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards.

4. A new technology usually makes war against an old technology. It competes with it for time, attention, money, prestige, and a "worldview."

5. Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything.

6. Because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded, different technologies have different intellectual and emotional biases.

7. Because of the accessibility and speed of their information, different technologies have different political biases.

8. Because of their physical form, different technologies have different sensory biases.

9. Because of the conditions in which we attend to them, different technologies have different social biases.

10. Because of their technical and economic structure, different technologies have different content biases.




From The End of Education (1995).

Some context: "To be 'against technology' makes no more sense than to be 'against food.' We can't live without either. But to observe that it is dangerous to eat too much food, or to eat food that has no nutritional value, is not to be 'antifood.' It is to suggest what may be the best uses of food. Technology education [is about learning] what technology helps us to do and what it hinders us from doing; it is about how technology uses us, for good or ill, and about how it has used people in the past, for good or ill. It is about how technology creates new worlds, for good or ill."



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