Human and Technology

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March 2013
Technopoly
Neil Postman’s 1992 book, entitled Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, is one that explores the fear of the growing realization that we have become a society dominated by technology. Although many people in todays day and age would say that technology and the large array of technological advances of the past decade or so, are both a friend and an enemy, in that they have both benefits and downfalls, Postman’s book arrives at the topic with a pessimistic view of what the dangers of technology is doing to our culture.

Postman opens up his book with a story of the fictional character named Thamus. Retelling the story of Thamus is key in that it opens the door to the notion that we should fear large shifts in where we place our trust of language and it’s understanding. The story of Thamus describes the reluctance to evolve out of oral tradition into writing. The point Thamus makes is that writing will ultimately hinder people because it will no longer require them to exercise their memory, thus they’d become very forgetful with the things they learn.

Technopoly does a great job of putting the reader in the position to stop thinking about all the “great” things that technology and its advances will do for us, and encourages us to take a look into what these technologies will undo for us as a nation.

Telegraphy is a topic that is discussed in the book. Neil Postman’s believes that the telegraph changed communication forever. Prior to Samuel Morse’s 1843 invention, information could only travel from one place to another as fast as a train could travel. Which around the time of the invention of the telegraph was about 35 mph. This invention thus removed space as an inevitable constraint on the movement of information. Telegraphy also changed the communication from a process of understanding into solving a particular problem. Rather than seeing communication as a learning process needed to develop understanding, this...
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