31 May 2010

My relatively few gadgets disrupt technology discourses

My iPhone fell in the toilet; touchscreen died. After some deliberation about upgrading and downgrading, I decided to get myself a new-old phone. It's not a 3G or 3Gs. It's old, like the 12" Powerbook I'm still using. I like to use my gadgets as long as I can before they become the landfill that people's kids will be building their homes on. When my phone no longer phones, I'll use it as an itouch.When I get a new laptop, I'll repurpose the PB. I've got some mixed-media art work ideas in mind, when it's not streaming my music collection. I really like the relatively few gadgets I have because they make my life more meaningful and comfortable without compromising my ethics.

One of my ongoing interests is developing a critical view of technology, and at the moment, I'm into the dominance of technology discourses. By dominant discourse, I mean a mainstream, formalized way of knowing in which language marks the boundaries of what is considered truth and what is not. When you attend to language in this way, all kinds of interesting ideas appear. Take the sentence "A woman was raped" where the fact that a man/men (usually) did the raping is concealed. The passive tense is used a lot to conceal agency and manage power relations. Technology discourses dominate our public space, in the same ways sports discourses do. 

Disrupting Technology Discourses: Talking Back
The discourse of desire to own technology conceals the fact that desire is fabricated and creates a psycho-social tension that's relieved by consumption. "I want, so I figure out a way to have." "Everyone has it; it must be worth having." "I'm miserable, let's go shopping." Having no desire disrupts this discourse. 

The discourse of social media/web 2.0 uses universalisms to make claims about technology's impact on "people" as if all persons approach and are interested in technology in universally similar ways. See my dissertation, Netgen skeptic, Danah Boyd's work

In education, technology discourses generate a pastiche of neologisms and pseudo-theories about learning, teaching and education, few of which are critical from within. Disruptions come from Others outside it, fabricating a dialectic of "innovator verses luddite". One of the few within-critiques came from the Edupunks discourse in 2008.

My new-old phone, my PB, my microwaveless and electric-coffee-makerless kitchen and my tvless living room disrupt many technology discourses.