Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nature or technology: do we have to choose?

This video for edcmooc makes me think that technology and culture are not independent and that technology versus nature is a false dichotomy.

Starting with the later - ever wanted to be naked in all sorts of weather? Guess what, doesn't work for us. My dog sheds fur when it gets hot and shed it again to get his winter coat (come to think of it, Labradors shed all of the time). Me, I change clothes. We don't sleep under the stars all of the time as getting soaked or freezing to death is not good - so technology at its simplest level shields us from nature to the extent that it protects us for much of the time against the negative impacts.

If we view technology from an essentialist viewpoint, then this dystopic video says that technology necessarily makes us more or less blind to the natural world around us - except where it either causes us hardship (think fireants in the US as more likely to cause blackouts than birds) or where we cause them hardship (I think from memory collisions with windows kill far more birds than windfarms). While a window shields us from heat, cold and rain, it need not shield us from nature. So does technology in of itself hide nature from us? Perhaps the more we embrace technology in and of itself rather than how it aids and protects us, that we hide behind our phones and can't see the birds around us (so long as the phones don't stop us from seeing the people in front of us at least it connects us) and we travel into space merely to look down on ourselves (technology as narcissism).

Make sure you take the opportunity today to look up from your phone or computer screen and look out of the window before a power outage forces you to.

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