How does technology pervade culture, both in terms of popular culture and sociological applications?
I.e. The mobile phone - since it became a common occurrence, now the mobile phone is the primary form of contact for most people, although originally only usable to make phone calls, Now it has become a vessel for many other parts of technology.
The Iphone - performs the functions of MP3 player, phone, personal organiser and internet feed all in the one package, plus it runs OSX.
John McCarthy/Peter Wright use a vignette as an example, the way in which a text message can provoke a sensory reaction due to its personalised nature, becomes proof that technology is beginning to become more integrated within not only a wider social and cultural context, but a personal one as well.
‘ The Machine Stops’(E.M Forster) a short story written in 1909, is a vision of what would become of a world where machinery takes care of all physical needs and desires, categorising humans as a now arbitrary race, who can no longer function without technological aid.
What is the place of Technology within our culture?
How does technology fit within our cultural perceptions/boundaries. Does it offer solutions, such as eliminating racial, gender and geographical boundaries? or does it play on fears of losing control over aspects of life should we come to rely on it too much?
McCarthy/Wright - the difference between ‘Objective usability’ - What a computer can do and ‘User experience’ - What the user can do with a computer.
The Iphone has an amalgamation of features, combining many pieces of tech into one, and is designed for accessibility and ease of use, it becomes effectively part of both ‘material’ and popular culture in one swoop.
Is the technology within our culture used only as a ‘human’ tool, or has it moved onwards to suggest a more personal and integrated relationship between our cultures and the technology that pervades them.
Has it granted us greater syndication? - Blogs, MMORPGs, Twiiter, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, Online Forums, chat rooms, email - does all this technology based human interaction promote instances of cultural development, or does it dilute the culture we have by diminishing inter-personal relationships and interaction?
Examples come from many areas throughout technological advance - would the vietnam war had a different outcome had the television not become a staple of the home, and therefore heightened exposure by the general public?
World of Warcraft - with 14 million users, is it a social phenomena, or a psychologically distracting pastime? Has something on this scale become a culture in itself, as opposed to just a sub-division of what we call ‘technocultures’. Certainly, like most games intend, the adventuring will provoke McCarthy and Wrights ‘sensory reaction’ and symptoms of feeling, but is WOW only attractive because of its already large fanbase? A technological creation of such magnitude it starts to influence the physical world - I.e. gold farmers, auction sites.
Do these now large social institutions provoke the ‘felt experience’ that McCarthy and Wright stipulate technology can now provide.
The seminal work by William Gibson ‘Neuromancer’, outlines a world in which there exists no proper boundaries between technology and culture, they are one and the same. Ideas such as cybernetics, bionics, the ‘matrix’ and interactive cyberspace are all commonplace and regular parts of this ‘world’.
Is there still a definite separation of technology and culture? Do they still exist as separate entities that outwardly affect each other, or are they linked together in such a way that soon it will become inseparable, imagine our world without the internet - less then 20 years ago, this was a reality.
Masamune Shirow(ghost in the shell) takes it a step further, he asks if humans and technology have progressed to the point of being mutually exclusive, are fully cybernetic humans really ‘humans’ anymore, or something else entirely? Similarly, the tv adaptation of GITS, has an episode dedicated entirely to people interacting on an online forum via ‘avatars’ which unlike the static ones of today, are essentially just a digital creation that does not reflect the users identity - I.e. a 14 year old can appear to be in his mid 20s, the concept of online forums taken back to the orginal ‘forum’ by technological means - is it a circular progression?
The cyberpunk genre details a world in many ways inseparable from how our world is developing. William Gibson ‘Modern Japan simply was cyberpunk’
But has the 80s era cyberpunk ideals become redundant nowadays? Has the technologically based cultures of the now developed along a separate line to its original origins.
I.e. now ‘digital art’ programs and applications have become a standard and recognisable medium to create work on par with traditional art techniques.
Technological development is increasingly geared towards its personal effects, and is no longer just considered ‘tools’ by our own and many other cultural standards. As technology develops, so too do the fears and issues that surround it. As well as its wider acceptance into our culture. Having said this, for us its part of our social trends and outlook on the world, for many of our predecessors, it is a difficult thing to both utilise and adapt to.