[Air-L] Technology as ideologically neutral?

Peter Timusk ptimusk at sympatico.ca
Thu Jul 5 09:54:48 PDT 2012

I have wondered if this at root comes from the US "guns are neutral"
argument given the ideological leanings of some early Internet promoters.

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org
[mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Charles Ess
Sent: July-05-12 9:48 AM
To: Air list
Subject: [Air-L] Technology as ideologically neutral?

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

Any suggestions for literature, etc., would be most appreciated.

Many thanks in advance,
- charles ess
Until August 31, 2012: Professor MSO
Media Studies, Institute for Aesthetics and Communication Aarhus University
Helsingforsgade 14
8200 Aarhus

>From 1. Sept. 2012: Associate Professor in Media Studies Department of Media
and Communication Forskningsparken II Gaustadalléen 21
0349  Oslo  Norway

Lifetime member, AoIR

³At vove er at miste fodfæstet for en stund, ikke at vove er at miste
sig selv² [To dare is to lose your footing for an hour; not to dare is to
lose yourself] - Kierkegaard

The Air-L at listserv.aoir.org mailing list is provided by the Association of
Internet Researchers http://aoir.org Subscribe, change options or
unsubscribe at: http://listserv.aoir.org/listinfo.cgi/air-l-aoir.org

Join the Association of Internet Researchers:

More information about the Air-L mailing list