Would you agree that most technological inventions are geared towards a certain group, to meet a necessary goal or task? In Chapter 13 of Culture and Technology: A Primer, Slack and Wise discuss the importance of identity and technology in a society as fast paced as ours. Although, Slack and Wise may not agree, they say, “what technologies are made available to a person depends in part on their identity (gender, race, class, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, and so on)” (149). This makes it very difficult for people with less money and less access to come into contact with the technologies that they may need or desire. I agree that technology can have a strong influence in altering a person’s identity through online social networking sites and other forms of online interaction and I also agree with Slack and Wise when they say that technology can be biased towards certain identities in society.
Companies invent new technologies to make profit, so the people that they aim to please are most often people with money, the people with the means to make their company excel. This makes it difficult for other people, such as the unemployed, the homeless, or the disable to gain access to these technologies. This makes it very difficult for the unemployed, for example, to find jobs because they may be unable to access a computer to apply for a job position or to perhaps find a used car to drive themselves to interviews. In order for new technologies to be produced, research and funding must be done. Some technologies may not be developed because no one is willing to fund them because there is no profit to be made. Most often this is because the technology being researched is intended for people who do not have the means to pay large sums of money for the proposed new technology. Slack and Wise offer the example of developing medicine that will cure a disease, but will not make a profit. Although the ethical standpoint would be to make the medicine regardless of what money there is to gain, it is often difficult to find companies to do so. The more specific example of this is the cure for sleeping sickness which is a disease found in Africa. Most of the people suffering from this illness do not have the means to pay for the treatment, so companies stopped making it. This is a harsh example but it shows how technology can be very biased towards identity. The majority of people suffering from sleeping sickness live in poverty and a large part of their identity is defined by this fact, making it difficult for them to gain access to the technologies they need. Identity can be changed through the influence of technology but it also plays a very important role in the development and success of technologies. As much as it shouldn’t be, a person’s identity very much affects their access to new and old technologies.
By: Ruby Flynn
By Nick Fulton
This was an outstanding piece of literature. I felt a vibe and mania while reading this story. The setup of modern New York, the way they went about showing their roles in this world and how technology helped shape it. I saw this writing as stating the way in which we can lose ourselves and identities due to the technology each of us carry in our hands. One picture could literally steal your identity for others use. The character development and effort they put into creating a world around this idea was what caught my attention. I saw them as similar to the club kid generation in New York, the alternative “It” people who shape the world around them. My interest in that time period and even earlier with Andy Warhol just showed my bias with this piece. I liked the concept of the sincere party. It was interesting to reflect back at the story,” everyone comes dressed sincerely” didn’t mean to some that they needed to be sincere just be dressed accordingly.
To have an identity is to have the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality. Also, an identity affects how a person is placed in culture. But since the introduction of technologies in which an identity can be altered, the term to have an “identity” is now loosely defined. Especially with online identities, people now have the opportunity to “be” someone else and can often develop a whole other lives for themselves.
As described in Slack and Wise’ book, creating identities is often used in gaming practices. A man can play a male or a female, or he does not even have to be human. And same goes for a woman. This choice can be used to the player’s advantage, especially for the male players because “being” a female would often be beneficial after manipulating a fellow male player.
To have a different identity online, people are now able to have the characteristics that they lack in reality. But can easily become addicted to their alter-ego and became more unsatisfied with their real self and often result in cases of depression or isolation.
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A CultureNet Contest
Last night you emailed a new playlist to friends after listening to a podcast by your favourite band. This morning you updated your blog with photos from that road trip to Seattle last weekend. And – yeah – it’s already time for a new cell because it sure feels like you’re only person you know who can’t upload MP3 files to their phone.
What impact does technology have on your life? How is your identity – how you see yourself and how others see you – shaped by the technology you use?
Tell us in words, images, blogs, websites, podcasts or any other format of your choice.
Deadline: 15 June 2007.
Winners announced: 30 June 2007.
How to Enter
Option 1: submit your entry online at CultureNet.
Option 2: send an email with an attachment to email@example.com with the following information: first and last name, telephone number, and full mailing address.
Option 3: mail your entry to: CultureNet Contest, Humanities Division, Capilano College, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver BC V7J 3H5.
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