[Air-L] Technology as ideologically neutral?

Peter Gloviczki glovi002 at umn.edu
Thu Jul 5 07:10:31 PDT 2012

Hi Charles,

I'd also suggest Postman's 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. He
focuses on television, but I'd say it's still applicable.


On Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 9:04 AM, Janet Sternberg <janet.sternberg at nyu.edu> wrote:
> Greetings, and thank you for reminding us of this important issue.
> Regarding the notion that technology in general is not ideologically
> neutral, the late Neil Postman immediately comes to mind, as well as other
> scholars such as Jacques Ellul, who have been identified with the
> intellectual tradition Postman led, media ecology. Two relevant classics
> which have stood the test of time, although they don't mention the Internet
> specifically:
> Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New
> York: Alfred A. Knopf.
> Ellul, J. (1964). The technological society (J. Wilkinson, Trans.). New
> York: Vintage Books. (Original work published 1954)
> Regards to all,
> Janet
> Janet Sternberg, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Communication and Media Studies
> Latin American and Latino Studies
> Fordham University
> Bronx, NY 10458-9993 USA
> 718-817-4855 voice | 718-817-4868 fax
> jsternberg at fordham.edu | janet.sternberg at nyu.edu
> http://www.media-ecology.org/
> Charles Ess wrote:
>> Dear AoIRists,
>> I'm trying to gather both accessible and, to some degree, "landmark" or
>> foundational literature that can be used to (gently) challenge a view I
>> keep
>> encountering in certain circles lately - namely, that technology in
>> general
>> and the Internet in particular is "ideologically neutral".
>> Such a view was around in the U.S. in the early days of the Internet - but
>> countered in at least two ways; those who took up Social Construction of
>> Technology and related theory from ST studies, including discussion of
>> "affordances", etc. - and then the very ideological claims (roughly:
>> California libertarian technological utopianism) that went from claims
>> such
>> as "the internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it" to
>> claims that the Internet embedded and fostered specially U.S. (neoliberal)
>> values of individualism, freedom of expression, and free market
>> capitalism.
>> For better and for worse, however, my impression is that in our
>> communities,
>> at least, the recognition that the technologies embed and foster specific
>> cultural values and communicative preferences (as I like to put it on the
>> basis of the CATaC conferences) has been more or less a given for quite
>> some
>> time.  Hence, having to re-visit and re-establish these understandings for
>> those for whom this recognition is apparently quite new is a bit of a
>> challenge.
>> Any suggestions for literature, etc., would be most appreciated.
>> Many thanks in advance,
>> - charles ess
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Peter Joseph Gloviczki, Ph.D.

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