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November 27, 2006

Promt #7

In text and image, comment of the idea of technopolies (as you understand them) to an understanding of technology as an order or nature

To understand what Niel Postman was suggesting with his terms ‘technocracy’ and ‘technopolies’, it helped me to first consider ‘theocracy’ and how that manifested as Medieval culture. Postman discusses in depth the differences between simple ‘tool-using cultures’ and ‘technocracy’ cultures (or cultures used by tools) with his main distinction being in what is shaping the majority of the ‘thinking stuffs’ of that culture. For example in Medieval times, almost every aspect of people’s lives was regulated by the catholic church. Theology was the prevailing science of the time and all tools were made to serve humans so they could better serve God (essentially). Theology determined the daily life and the social norm. We call this a theocracy.

Taking this understanding of a theos or church-centered culture and applying it to modern America, Postman keenly uncovers a new motivating force: technology. The mechanical clock that was born from such pious intentions gave birth to a new era of industry and tools like never before. The Bible, as interpreted by a few well-off white men, is no longer responsible for shaping our view of reality. Thanks to TV and the internet we can now see into the lives of people all over the world, moreover, can see into the created lives of people who were created from the figments of our imagination! Cars are shaping our bodies, and our minds are adapting to the constant stimulation of new media. Music tells us of our values and our i-pods help us express that. Now, more than ever the technology that we created is creating us, shaping us, and deeply changing the planet in its wake.
Realizing the immense impact of this can be really scary. I imagine a crazy technological future where we no longer have families and are raised by advanced i-pods and take a pill to satisfy our need for love… : ) But before I get too carried away, it’s important to place our current ‘technocracy’ in the natural order of things.

Depending on how you think about it, nature has been coming out with world changing technologies since the beginning of time. Take for example, the evolution of aerobic organisms. Before these organisms developed the ‘tool’ of oxygen consumption, the world was entirely anaerobic. Human beings (though we seldom acknowledge it) are but a small branch of a very diverse and dynamic system that is constantly evolving and producing new ‘tools’ that change everything entirely. It very well could be that humans will ‘tool’ themselves into extinction, but when they do, it can be certain that some other organism (most likely one with a great affinity for carbon dioxide and nuclear waste) will take up where we left off and so the system will continue for the rest of time- whether or not there is a mechanical clock there to monitor it!


anaerobic organisms


one artist's interpretation of post-nuclear war society
...lets hope he's wrong :)

November 6, 2006

Prompt #6

This series of images illustrates the 'golden ratio' used in design. The golden ratio is a set of perportions discovered during the renaissance era that exist in almost all natural things. It is found satistically, that humans are naturally more attracted to those things which follow this proportion (for example, almost every Miss America to date has had a waist to hip ratio of 1:1.681), and so many designers use this bit of math to their advantage. While I was going to school in Italy we took a field trip walking around the center of town and checked the proportions of many of the 'great' buildings looking for the Golden Ratio and found it in almost all of them.