I’m deep into NO!vember and of course the biggest reduction in overload is the practice of not adding more things. But I’m finding some snowball effect too: As I see the pile evaporating… as I’m not adding more things… I’m feeling more inspired and motivated to pick off one or two problem things.
One thing I will say about these lists: they are written as a way of fortune and future-telling and anticipating what a technology might do. But you often don’t know the answers to a lot of the questions until you adopt the technology.
~ Austin Kleon from, https://austinkleon.com/2021/08/16/questions-for-technology/
Kleon’s post is a significant collection of things (people who’ve dug into technology, lists of questions as way to evaluate technology, and more) for evaluating technology. But this point he makes at the very end is critical: Sometimes, you just can’t tell until you try it.
I hate that about technology. In fact, I use it as a key test of my own. If I cant’ tell without trying it, then it’s not worth my time trying.
People who become engaged with movement in the found environment develop a new way of seeing their environment. Well, t e c h n i c a l l y , they recover a way of seeing their environment which they lost. Mountains, hills, water, stairs… and the moats that criss-cross our communities where the big metal and plastic boxes whiz along— these all become “challenging.” Walls (of various heights from knee to enormous), railings, painted lines— these all become “challenging.” And yet, I’ve had the pleasure on countless occasions to stumble into a built space which feels different. Spaces which don’t require me to see differently. Spaces which beckon me to sit, stand, move, climb, and play.
That we immediately switch to building our cities and countries around people, instead of cars.
~ Peter Adeney from, https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2023/04/07/car-free-cities/
Cars (small trucks, commercial trucks, planes, trains and ships) are tools. As I’ve said before what really matters about tools is one’s thinking and choices about tools. What I rarely hear mentioned is that tool choices also affect us. Our use of tools changes us. That’s what I really care about. How am I enabled (to do other things, to live more fully, etc), or constrained, by my choices with respect to tools? Furthermore, how do my choices enable or constrain those close to me? …in my community? …country? …world?
I expend a lot of time and energy thinking about technology. I’m often trying to share some idea with others, or trying to make a change in the world. But year by year I’m shifting to spending more of that time and energy simply deciding what technology I want to adopt. Mastodon and the corresponding ActivityPub technology which creates the Fediverse is a great example. Should I join in on that new technology and create a presence there?
Grasping the value of new technology requires imagination. But unless you have skin in the game that doesn’t seem worth the effort because technology is supposed to make things easier and simpler, not wrack your brain.
~ Morgan Housel from, https://collabfund.com/blog/tech/
Housel’s covers that, and three other intriguing points about why new technology is a hard sell. I’m left wondering could I use the points raised in the article to help me make decisions about technology? If I flip the article’s thinking over (from an others-directed “why doesn’t technology get adopted” direction to a self-directed “why I might not adopt technology” direction) then I can ask myself corresponding questions. For example, for the quoted point above, I can ask: Am I engaging my imagination at all when considering some piece of technology? (Aside: I decided, yes, and you can search for
@email@example.com wherever you are in the Fediverse.)
But the deeper reason is that there’s really no such thing as a natural resource. All resources are artificial. They are a product of technology. And economic growth is ultimately driven, not by material resources, but by ideas.
~ Jason Crawford from https://longnow.org/ideas/02022/10/07/can-economic-growth-continue-over-the-long-term/
A few years ago my thinking shifted. I used to think of something, simply by its existence, as being a “natural resource.” More recently I’ve begun to pay attention to which, and how much, technology has to be added for something to be a resource. Anything in the ground has no special value until someone adds the mining or drilling, the refinement, distribution and so on. That makes it clearer how to evaluate the trade-offs.
It becomes easier to visualize, and realize, that the constraints are not the amount of the natural resource (the raw stuff) but rather that the limits are all the expense, destruction, energy, transformation, and ideas that have to go into making that raw stuff usable. And sometimes, it’s just not the right trade-off to make a something into something useable.
HomeNet could be (and has been) interpreted as an indictment of the internet, or screens, or modern communications technology in general. In truth, it illustrates a much simpler truth about love and happiness: Technology that crowds out our real-life interaction with others will lower our well-being and thus must be managed with great care in our lives. In order to reap their full benefits, we should use digital tools in ways that enhance our relationships.
~ Arthur C. Brooks from, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/09/technology-happiness-communication-relationships/671586/
I’m reminded of some comments by Rafe Kelley.
If junk food is flavor divorced from nutrition, then pornography is sexuality divorced from the context of relationships. Video games are thrill divorced from physicality. And so you take these boys who have this inherent aggression and you let them play Fortnite, and they can play all day without any self-regulation from having the physical demands of actual rough and tumble play. The problem is that it so easily out-competes the actual thing that we need, which is the real physical play.
~ Rafe Kelley from a video short from an Instagram post, so I’ll just link you to his Evolve. Move. Play. project.
Brooks and Kelley are talking about different technologies, but I think they’re both pointing toward the “divorce” being the actual issue. The arrival in the living room (mentioned by Brooks) divorced [I’ll say] the mental stimulation from the other people in the house.
There is a part of you that will *become* your job/profession.
~ Toby Nagle from, https://principlesandinterest.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/20-years-in/
That’s number 7 from his 10-point listicle.
Also: I’ve taken to using the word “listicle” only when I mean it as a compliment. Versus, my perception that everyone else means it as derogatory. I think that being able to organize one’s writing into a coherent, ordered list of things all of which are on roughly equal footing, shows a significant level of comprehension and integration. Most short writings which have a numbered list of points are crappy click-bait, and people rightly derogate them. This is not that, so there. (English is a mess, but ain’t finger-painting fun?i)
As for technology, my working definition is: “a tool that radically solves problems.” After all, technology pre-dates scientific knowledge (and mathematics), as does engineering. Indeed, the printing press was once technology, as was writing — as was the wheel. If your technology is not radically solving a problem, perhaps it isn’t technology. Perhaps it is simply software, or simply a business on the internet. Food for thought.
~ Kanyi Maqubela from, https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/what-is-technology/
I don’t recall having actually wondered what, specifically, constitutes technology. Upon reading this, I thought about it…
Let’s see, what is a screw driver? Well, that’s obviously a tool. It drives screws. Is a screw an example of a technology? …yeah, I suppose so. And what, really, is a screw? It’s an application of the concept of an inclined plane. So I came up with: A tool is a thing which operates some technology—it facilitates me applying the technology to some situation. And the technology is the application of some knowledge. Printing presses and pencils are tools; they facilitate the technology of writing. It’s interesting to note that each tool is itself composed of multiple technologies. All of which gives humanity a woven, layered-up, system of technology, tools, technology, tools.
Food for thought, indeed.
What follows is an attempt to consider some of the aspects and implications of techno-optimism. It is an attitude that has become somewhat taken for granted, which is precisely why it is important to consider what it is and how it functions.
~ “Z.M.L” from, https://librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/theses-on-techno-optimism/
This is an interesting thesis. I generally don’t like creating new labels for things. But “techno-optimism” just weaseled into my vocabulary.