Exploring Digital Culture

Entries by a MOOC participant

Shades of Grey

Technological Determinism:  Utopia or Dystopia?

‘We may view a cultural system as a series of three horizontal strata: the technological layer on the bottom, the philosophical on the top, the sociological stratum in between… The technological system is basic and primary. Social systems are functions of technologies; and philosophies express technological forces and reflect social systems. The technological factor is therefore the determinant of a cultural system as a whole. (White 1949).


Thank you Bonnie Stewart for your insightful blog (http://bit.ly/VyeVT3).  It helped me realize that I had been thinking too much in black and white. Utopian or dystopian? Technological determinism or social determinism? The fact is that I should be thinking in shades of grey. After all,  the 2 compelling books that brought me to this MOOC “Getting Smarter” (van der Ark, 2010) – and “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains (Carr, 2009) – is the classic Utopian vs Dystopian dichotomy.

As an educational technologist, I have struggled for years to have technology embedded in the curriculum and not as a standalone or add on.   When technology is taught as a separate entity, where is the real learning?  Technology enhances the learning.

It is when technology is seen as an add on that it becomes a thing with a mind of its own that creates a negative social enviroment (Dystopian) or a positive social environment (Utopian).  When technology becomes ubiquitous in our every day life (and classroom curriculums) it becomes part of our social environment and helps us to Communicate, Collaborate and Create.

Have you every seen A Day Made of Glass?  This is a great example of ubiquitous personal technology.



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This entry was posted on January 31, 2013 by .

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