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November 26, 2006

Technopolies and Technology as an Order of Nature

From the way Neil Postman described technopolies in The Surrender of Culture to Technology I have come to discover that there are two very definite, very different sides to technology.

In Lance Lavine’s guest lecture, he described technology as an order of nature. Technology lies within nature until it has been discovered ultimately used towards man’s liking. I understand technology in this very manor: that most technology basically changes things for the better of mankind. This optimistic outlook on technology has used nature as the basis for expansion within itself. The technology as an order of nature stems from many of nature’s own tricks. Knives for example are shaped like teeth. View image View image
Solar energy/ solar panels were most likely taken from a plant’s ability to use solar energy through their leaves. In Lance’s philosophy, biomimicry plays a large role in man’s technological advances. Antono Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia View image
takes its perfect shape from gravity as Gaudi used it to form his melting wax in order to design such cathedrals in a gravity-conscious manor.

In opposition to Lance Lavine’s look on technology, Neil Postman points out another side to technology. Power can destroy all good intentions that a technology began with. I understand technopolies to be the abuse of technology as an order of nature; perhaps in some cases technopolies are technologies that neglect orders of nature but are strictly for the benefit of mankind. With or without intending to harm nature, Technopolies always change it from its original state, often never to be restored back. Oil is power. Oil ships therefore are a technopoly. In this case, the sole purpose of the ship is to transport oil from where it once was located in nature to another foreign place to give power to man. Oil spills are not intended, but when they occur they permanently change nature for the worst. View image
Another example is nuclear warfare. Power went to the country with the most nuclear weapons until there were enough to potentially destroy the world several times over. We have to ask ourselves, were they really necessary? Did the world need nuclear warheads? This was an abuse to technology: a technopoly indeed.

It is hard for me to view technology as a hazard to nature and a hazard to our very existence. Sure, things like nuclear warheads are obvious abuses to technology as an order of nature, but I have come to understand that it is difficult to draw a solid line of what is abusing technology and what is simply and order of nature. Housing for example is a technology in which I would argue as a necessity to mankind. Within this small example also lies a fuzzy line. When did technology start to abuse the very thing that created it? Caves and other natural shelters housed the first people; man used direct nature to live in without changing much if anything at all View image. Who had the biggest house became motive for expansion and elaboration on housing and it is when this power took over that I believe technopolies to have started View image .

There are, then, two sides to technology. Technology began as an order of nature, and through biomimicry it is preserved in new inventions. Technopolies are becoming more and more common in the scientific world to cater to the “needs? of humans. It seems as though commercials today can convince anybody that they absolutely need a clearly unnecessary item in their household. A knife that can cut through a hammer to me is such an item that I saw on an infomercial not long ago. The only motivation for buying one would obviously be to show it off to other people.

I believe that architects are today’s main decision makers between technologies as an order of nature and technopolies. They decide how far is far enough and what the purpose their buildings. Architects have a lot of power and it is up to them to decide whether to create technology or technopoly. They always need to be thinking about the future and what might be the effect of their cause in an unbiased and a selfless way. Here’s a quote from Spiderman to sum it all up:

“With great power comes great responsibility.?
View image

November 5, 2006

Design in Mathematics

If a designer wants his/her design to be symmetrical, have exact dimensions, be proportionate, or be measurable he/she must use mathematics in the design. Some of the most beautiful designs around the world exude striking edges, curves, and definition directly because of the mathematics used.

Any great designer would use mathematics to their advantage while creating a masterpiece because of its already perfected usefulness, beauty, and durability. These three things after all were what the great mathematician Vitruvius believed, many centuries before our time. All of the designs in which nature has created that still exist today have lasted since the beginning of nature itself, and therefore prove themselves. Although beauty is the first thing noticed in a building, it is seldom the purpose behind the design. Let’s take the Eiffel Tower for example math design 11.jpg; it is a symbol of romance, beauty, and intimacy and its unique shape is hard not to fall in love with, however Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the designer said this about his masterpiece:

"What phenomenon did I have to give primary concern in designing the Tower? It was wind resistance. Well, I hold that the curvature of the monument's four outer edges, which is as the mathematical calculations have dictated it should be, will give a great impression of strength and beauty.? Here, the beautiful structure of this building was a simple “bonus? in the mathematics used to build the tower for its durability.

Mathematics can also be the design itself. Several logos and other various things have stemmed directly from mathematical geometry and graphs. The examples that follow are solid, precise, and proportionate designs that have been discovered in mathematics to design’s advantage: math design1.gif Common geometrical designs would be the dome math design5.jpg, the pyramid math design7.jpg, or the spiral math design2.jpg. These designs (pre-existing in nature) have been incorporated into numerous famous buildings around the world. math design6.jpg

Since mathematics stem directly from pre-existing nature, design is from nature. I believe nature to be the best ‘’go to’’ for designs for the following reasons:
1) nature has used the old age of its designs to prove itself worthy in our current world
2) nature is precise and exact as mathematics and therefore design must be
3) nature is beautiful, so “mimicking? can not only provide durability and purpose, but it can also provide aesthetics to its users.

Design is mathematics. Mathematics are so incorporated into the creation and final product of a given design that it would be impossible to try and construct a building or other design without it.

math design 8.jpg math design 9.jpg math design 10.gif