Technopoly

I’m reading a somewhat dated book about technology and culture by one of our most astute cultural critics, Neil Postman. Postman is perhaps better known for his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, but this book is well worth the read.

An introductory statement from Paul Goodman gives us an idea of where the book is heading:

Whether or not it draws on new scientific research, technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science.

Thus, technology is not merely about science and engineering growth, but actually involves subtle ethical and moral ideology. Too often, we take it in without critique, but Postman argues for a more engaged assessment of the cultural impacts of technology.

He writes:

Technopoly is a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. It consists in the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology. (71)

It flourishes, he argues, when people “believe that information is an unmixed blessing, which through its continued and uncontrolled production and dissemination offers increased freedom, creativity, and peace of mind…. Technopoly flourishes when the defenses against information break down. (71)

Provocative statements like this have led me to keep on reading, whether I agree or not.

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