Sunday, May 28, 2006

Human Thought and Technology

Thinking outloud:

Just as it is not possible to look ahead to the technological changes now taking shape, it is not easy to look back to the ones that have helped form our own culture.

It is difficult to think about communications technology because the medium shapes thinking, and it is not easy to think about thinking.

It is the problem of the Zen koan, 'How can the hand grasp itself grasping?' Thought is so intimately associated with the conventions of a technology that it is hard for users to see that different media are independent means for the expression of our thoughts - for whatever purpose.

The challenge is to break out of the confines imposed by immersion in the conventions of our own technologies to understand the thinking of cultures whose conventions for communicating are unfamiliar to us. Web 2.0 is a bad example of this - Many are finding it hard to go beyond it and are making up new 'definitions' for it.

Alphabet users have a hard time giving up their literate intuitions, for the adoption of writing systems that have transformed human thought. Stated more accurately, human consciousness, perceptions, relationships, society, even values are now different from what they were before this innovation.

This is why the change from an oral to a written technology in the ancient Greek civilization might shed light on events now underway in our own.

Read on ...

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