Neil Postman: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

If you are interested in the cultural implications of computer technologies, I highly recommend reading this article from Neil Postman on “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change.” He sums it up as follows:

“And so, these are my five ideas about technological change. First, that we always pay a price for technology; the greater the technology, the greater the price. Second, that there are always winners and losers, and that the winners always try to persuade the losers that they are really winners. Third, that there is embedded in every great technology an epistemological, political or social prejudice. Sometimes that bias is greatly to our advantage. Sometimes it is not. The printing press annihilated the oral tradition; telegraphy annihilated space; television has humiliated the word; the computer, perhaps, will degrade community life. And so on. Fourth, technological change is not additive; it is ecological, which means, it changes everything and is, therefore, too important to be left entirely in the hands of Bill Gates. And fifth, technology tends to become mythic; that is, perceived as part of the natural order of things, and therefore tends to control more of our lives than is good for us.”

One thought on “Neil Postman: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

  1. Many of us have suspected such things for a long time. It’s handy that somebody has made a list, which is probably not exhaustive… GenX may be catching on to this, but for GenY and younger (and in fact, anybody from any generation who is not vigilent about these matters), it’s more of a case of point five


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