[Air-L] Technology as ideologically neutral?

Andrew Herman aherman at wlu.ca
Sun Jul 8 03:23:58 PDT 2012

This is indeed a fascinating discussion and I like the way that Jeremy
has turned the question here.

J: can you explain a bit more what you mean when you hold that objects
themselves have politics in themselves but necessarily ideologies in

Charles: at the end of the day, would you please post all the readings
that people have suggested?

And let us not forget Slack and Wise, Culture and Technology: A Primer.

Andrew Herman, Ph. D.
Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies
Director, Graduate Program in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
519 884-1970 x3693
>>> jeremy hunsinger <jhuns at vt.edu> 07/07/12 3:28 AM >>>
I find this to be an interesting debate, though mostly the question is
where the ideology actually exists.    Does it exist in the object
itself?  relations to the object from other objects?  relations to the
object to semiotic systems around it?  relations to socius or culture?
or in the systems alone, cultures alone, socius, alone, etc.

basically there is a matrix here of ideologies, contexts, objects and
their axiologies operating both ontologically ala mereological
constructions  and epistemologies.   With many blurry middle grounds.

I hold that artifacts have politics in themselves, but i'm not sure that
all artefacts have ideologies in themselves.  The question i tend to
raise and ask people to write about is... what is the politics of the
toaster, because the toaster has a whole political economics and a
politics, but does it have an implied ideology.  Now the design of a
toaster can certainly have ideological components, but the idea of a
toaster may perhaps not, though granted whether the idea exists outside
of the set of objects is another debate for the Platonists to take up.

however... I wonder about the neutrality of the internet because as I've
argued here before, that while there is no real internet beyond
reference to a conceptual idea that encompasses many technologies and
systems that lack what i'd all think of as a unity beyond the concept.
So does it as a whole have a neutrality or an ideology?  there is a
certain technocratic rationality to it, and that rationality certainly
has a traditionally critiqued ideology, but is that in it, or in the
design of it, or in the relations of it within historic contexts?  and
isn't neutrality and the claim to it, an ideological claim?  I've always
tended to argue that the claim toward neutrality and objectivity is
almost always ideological.

one of my favorite authors on this technology as ideology is Paul
Virilio and my second favorite is Walter Benjamin in Arcades Project.

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