Arts3091 – Week 2 Blog

We are introduced to many new concepts through the Murphy reading, which provide a framework in analysing the way in which media (and particularly, technology) interact with the change of culture, society and politics.

Technological determinism is one theory which proscribes the ability of technology to trigger social change. This concept stands out to me, especially because of the way society interacts with technology in discussion and in participation of current affairs. It seems that technological determinism is at the forefront of mediated society at present. I think of the way in which Twitter is being used to co-ordinate and inform both public and private spheres. In San Francisco, Iraq war protesters used Twitter to keep fellow activists informed of their movements throughout the day. In doing so, protesters avoided the use of walk-talkies or mobile phones which would often lead to arrest. What we see here is a bypass of social pressure, where technology has followed a logic of it’s own. McLuhan argues that technologies are extensions of human capacities, and we can clearly see that in this example, where technology has not merely given us a new medium, but a new mechanism with which to work.

Langdon Winner believes that technology is not what matters most, but the social or economic system in which it resides. This is true, in application to my example, where Twitter is not the driving force behind the protest that took place, rather the use of this technology to attract a cultural and political response. This protest made headlines because of it’s manipulative yet very open strategy. Anyone can now view the Twitter posts throughout the protest, and the movement is now ‘public property’ to an extent.

It is fascinating how politics and culture influence the way technology is pursued and developed, in a society that in fact relies greatly on it’s advancement.

Janis Lucis


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