Tag Archives: control

Are You Being Controlled?

I wake up in the morning to the sound of the radio blaring out of tiny holes in my alarm clock. Rihanna is singing about her umbrella. When I turn it off, I cannot help but lie back down in bed and nuzzle under my sheets. Until soon after, the alarm on my phone goes off. The sound of which I cannot ignore. Both of these are examples of technology that people rely on in everyday life. They help me get out of bed in the morning, they tell me the time and it would be rather difficult to get to school without them. In Chapter 4 of Culture and Technology: A Primer, Slack and Wise discuss the topic of technology and the control it can have over society. They start off with the example of Frankenstein and the monster that he created in the very popular 19th century fable. Frankenstein’s monster is used as an example of technology controlling its master, when the inventor intended it to be the other way around. People rely on technology for everything, I cannot seem to start my day without it, so is it true to say that we are being controlled by the things we create?

Although the example of my cell-phone and alarm clock can also be used as an example of how technology creates convenience, there are other forms of technology which only seem to exist as a means of control. “…technologies change how humans perceive and interact with the world; in many ways, this changes humans themselves.” This from page 52 of Culture and Technology: A Primer, brings me to the example of media and how it works as a means of communication but how it very much changes people and the way they behave. Not everyone pays attention to media and television but a large majority of young people do. And these young people are being shown how to dress, act and live through the many media outlets that surround us. Technology has allowed for magazines, television shows and advertisements to become a prime example for society and it has changed the way that people live. An example that Slack and Wise use is how violent video games and television may lead to an increase in aggressive behaviour in children. But if the technology didn’t exist to show kids this sort of violence, then they would not have to worry about becoming more violent as a result of watching them. Technology surrounds us and it is true that much of it allows the world to work more smoothly but it can also be said that it is controlling and with media being used as an example, it seems alarmingly true. So considering that technology allows for media to send out messages that alter the way people behave, we must also consider that technology can control us if we let it.

By Ruby Flynn

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Position Paper I – Control

In 1949 George Orwell portrays a chilling world where large bureaucracies use computers to monitor and enslave the population in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four

As a first term student starting CultureNet in Spring 08, one of our main resources is a book called Culture + Technology: A Primer by Jennifer Daryl Slack and J. Macgregor Wise. This book is not an ordinary text book, but instead covers controversial issues about technology and its effects on our communication and lifestyles. A topic that especially caught my interest was how society’s and technology’s paths have become so intertwined, that our dependence on technology has made us slaves to the very thing we created to enslave. As an avid techno-nerd, I wholeheartedly agree with this concept.

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The Virtual Fence

The past several weeks have been spent learning about some pretty big ideas: progress, convenience, control, Luddism and Appropriate Technology to name several. The Slack and Wise primer has been our main source of information, along with a visit to Freegeek and a viewing of some short movies made by film students. We have also touched upon similar topics in several classes such as English, Computer Sciences and Communications. The gist of the course readings and activities so far, from my perspective, is that our use of technology changes the way we think and act, and the effects of these changes can positive and negative, planned and unexpected, beneficial and destructive.

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