Technological Inventions Are Not Just Scientific Advancement but Also Cultural Practices

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  • Topic: Culture, Sony, Portable media players
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  • Published : November 21, 2012
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Technological inventions are not just scientific advancement but also cultural practices

The paper is to explain Hugh Mackay’s arguments regarding how technology is always “cultural through and through”. In relation to his conceptions, cassette-based Walkman, Discman and iPod are used as examples to illustrate how technological inventions are not just scientific advancement but also cultural practices.

In the book Consumption and Everyday Life published in 1997, Hugh Mackay argued that “technology is cultural through and through”, stating that every technological artifacts is totally related with and influenced by culture. The argument can be analyzed in more details by applying the case of portable music players (PMPs) to the Circuit of Culture.

The Circuit consists of five major cultural processes, which are production, regulation, representation and consumption and identity of certain artifacts. The Circuit can start at any point, and one must go through every process when studying each case completely. As all parts are connected with each other, it may appear again in other parts (Martin, 2003).

To begin with, the process of production is organized culturally. In the past, Sony did not intend to do market research until the Walkman is introduced. Now every companies recognize the importance of market research (will be discussed later). Besides, Sony designers enjoy great functional and occupational status that motivate their work (du Gay, P., 1997, p.58-59, 62-63). As the Walkman and hence Sony becomes so successful, designers and programmers in technological artifacts producers like Microsoft and Apple are highly valued. Similarly, one of the reasons that why iPod becomes popular is that Apple performs excellent market researches and provides a comfortable working environment for its designers.

Representation of PMPs refers to how they are imaged and defined. Since the Walkman was initially designed for young...
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