Thursday, May 19, 2011

is technology neutral?

Here are some excerpts from a Friday Five interview with John Dyer on this topic: and technology are not neutral because while we use them to transform the world, they transform us in turn. And they don't just transform our bodies. They also transform business and culture.

I'm not so concerned with whether or not technology offers us a "net plus" as I am with helping us recognize that technology always brings a "net change." ... Focusing all our time on whether technology is "bad" or "good" tends to blind us from all of these other very significant changes that technology brings.

A parallel trend [the affect of abundance] appears to be happening with information. We now have access to the greatest sermons, research, and Biblical tools humans have ever created, and yet we spend most of our time updating Facebook and watching funny cats on YouTube. In other words, we have trouble distinguishing between easy-to-consume information and the information that truly nourishes.

This has been a pattern for humanity. Abundance often leads not to more abundance, but to decay. So there is no silver bullet, no install-this-software-and-not-that-one-and-you'll-be-okay solution. Instead, we have to do the hard work of cultivating technological discernment.

...there's a nice example in the Scriptures of how to do this. 2 John 12 says, "Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete."  In this passage, John carefully distinguishes between the communication technology of his day ("pen and ink") and being face-to-face, which he calls "complete." He seems to recognize the value of writing while also acknowledging that it doesn't offer the completeness that embodied life alone can offer. Recognizing a downside or incompleteness to the technology available to him didn't stop John from using it; rather, it ensured that he always used technology in service of, and as supplemental to, embodied life, not as a replacement for it.

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