Help Wanted

What technology wants

The love of technology

I'm looking for passages from literature, science fiction, or personal essays of writers who wax lyrical and poetic about technology. A paragraph where they get all purple about the joy or grandure of a machine, technlogy or man-made landscape. Any suggestions? The more specific the reference, the better.

Posted on July 27, 2004 at 9:38 PM

What does technology want?

Yeah, I know that technology is not a person so it can't "want" something the way you want something. But a large system like technology can and does exhibit tendencies and urges overall, independent of individual human caretakers, and this is the meaning of "want" I have in mind. If you still have problems imagining how technology as a whole can want things, then I suggest you ignore this question and not post in this thread. For those who want to play, imagine that the Technium, the system of technological cutlure, has an agenda greater than the agenda of its parts, and that human preferences have little impact on its urges. If the Technium is a system with its own non-human agenda, what does it want? What are its inherent biases, trajectory, and desires? What does technology hope for?

Posted on July 13, 2004 at 11:01 PM

What are other examples of leapfrogging?

One of the hoped-for blessings of technologies in the third world is that new stuff can allow them to leapfrog across the dirty industrial development the North has experienced. The first example to come to mind is cell phones in China, which promises to leapfrog over the laborious chore of wiring the large country with land lines. But when it comes to a second example, everyone draws a blank.

Does anyone know of other examples of leapfrogging technology -- where a latter generation of technology leapfrogs over a intermediate generation? At any time in history.

Posted on March 25, 2004 at 1:41 AM

Unpredicted technologies

In his wonderful and little-appreciated classic, PROFILES OF THE FUTURE, Aurthur C. Clarke pointed out that there are two kinds of technology, the expected and the unexpected. As illustration, Clarke made a list of "unexpected" technologies. This include X-Rays, nuclear energy, photography, superconductors, lasers, Carbon 14 dating, and others.

I am very interested in the nature of unexpected or unanticipated technologies and would like to acquire a longer list. I'd love to have nominations of technologies that were relatively unexpected. I can't offer a hard definition of unexpected, since this will vary by expertise and time. Clarke defined "expected" as "concepts that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years" before they became real. I would narrow that to say "concepts that have been around for decades."

What technologies were unpredicted?

Posted on March 15, 2004 at 11:43 PM

What technologies do you reject?

The Amish are famous for rejecting technology, but their pattern of rejection often bewilders outsiders. For example some Amish folk use roller-blade skates, diposable diapers, chemical fertilizers, and even cell phones, while rejecting 110-volt electricity, private cars, insurance, and zippers. I dare anyone to make sense of those decisions, even though there is a logic. The tangle of Amish technology might best be illustrated by their farm combines which are powered by diesel engines yet pulled by horses. Outsiders look at that and go HUH? Why pull a diesel engine with horses? Isn't that hypocritical?

No it's not, and more to the point, I've noticed a similar pattern among my friends. I know a guy who uses the web but not email, or who has wi-fi but no phone. When I press harder I find that MOST of my friends have this neo-amish pattern of rejecting some technology but using others.

So, what I'd like to know from readers here is, what technologies do you reject, and which recent ones do you rely on? If you could also give me some clue to how long you've rejected a technology (6 months or 6 years) that would be helpful. The stranger the dissounance, the better.

I may jump in to press replies for clarity.

Posted on March 2, 2004 at 1:00 AM

Who else rejects technology?

Everybody knows about the Amish, and their rejection of certain technologies. Not so well known are the Hutterites, another Christian group who have put a distance between themselves and modern life. We should also count in the Christian Scientists who reject a lot of contemporary medicine practice. My question is, does anyone know of other groups in the world, particularly in other religions, who have explicit selected rejections of some technologies?

Posted on June 12, 2003 at 7:45 PM

Which Star Trek episode?

I was told there is an episode from the early days of Star Trek about the Enterprise encountering another planet with their own messiah. Can someone point me to the correct show?

Posted on June 10, 2003 at 5:42 PM

How many objects?

Curiously, there is no data (that I could find) on the number of "species" of objects that fill our lives. So I've been counting the number of technological species in my home. I'm interested in having a large data set than one, so if you'd be willing to count the full variety of things in your home (every object), I'd be thrilled. I can lend you my hand tally machine, and give you my guidelines.

At the same time, if anyone is aware of existing research on the number of manufactured "species" then please point me to it.

Posted on June 7, 2003 at 8:12 AM

Other big bang creation stories?

The parallels between the book of Genesis and the story of the Big Bang are fairly obvious. I'm wondering if anyone is familiar with other traditional creation stories that also have parallels with the Big Bang. So far I am aware of "Enuma Elish" and related Sumerian tales. Does anyone know of others from separate cultures?

Posted on June 6, 2003 at 8:11 AM