Technological Determinism

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Technological Determinism

By | September 2012
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Technological determinism is a term developed by Marshal McLuhan, a theorist in the study of new media. By technological determinism, McLuhan refers to technology having the power to change societies and influence our cultures. In this essay I will argue that technology does have the power to change society and influence a civilization, using ideas put forward by Marshal McLuhan. I will also discuss the debate around technological determinism recognizing the claims made by Raymond Williams that society shapes technology as we look back at its emergence and their subsequent control. Both theorists have an interest in new media but it is the argument between weather technologies can shape society or is society shaping technology (LM 1947). McLuhan is more focused on the big picture studying cultural shifts and changes that technology is bringing to society, on the other hand Williams focuses on the emergence of technology, how technology started, the creators of technology and how society controls technology to suit its preferences. From recent study of the two theorists and their views, McLuhan’s theory of how technology is changing society appears to be more convincing compared to Williams claims. In the present day new technology is introduced into society as fast as newspapers are sold every morning. McLuhan refers to technological determinism as an extension of a man, he gives us an example of wheel’s as an extension of at the leg and an electrical light as an extension of the eye (McLuhan 1964) . With this example McLuhan gives us an image of how media has influenced our individual lives. Youths prefer to use their cell phones, an extension of the ear to communicate with their friends instead of writing a letter and sending it traditionally by mail. The 20th century began with a movement of new technology, introducing mobile phones to the world and the introduction of the internet as a communication device enabling a man to see the world through his desk...
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