Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dystopic Technology

This week's readings and videos have encouraged us to consider the dystopic and utopic aspects of technology. The three videos below Bendito Machine III, New Media, and Inbox provide two very different instances of technology.

The technologies in Bendito Machine III and New Media rule the worlds, though in significantly different ways. Those who inhabit the world of the Bendito Machine appear to have free will, and yet still give their lives and attention over the evolving technology that shows no concern for those that it affects. The world of New Media, however, is significantly more dire, with the technological monster having already ravaged the world: no humans are left.

Both films, but New Media, especially, present the world in a "technologically determinant" way. People are affected by the technology/media and cannot fight back. In "Technological or Media Determinism" Daniel Chandler explains that "particular technical developments, communications technologies or media, or, most broadly, technology in general are the sole or prime antecedent causes of changes in society, and technology is seen as the fundamental condition underlying the pattern of social organization." For those figures in New Media and Bendito, the technologies that enter those worlds cause change; the technologies shape the societies in the films.
Inbox provides viewers with a different look at technology. As I watched it for the first time, the technology-mirroring chat or email-provided these two people with the opportunity to talk to one another without having to set a time and meet. This opportunity, as many of us know, is useful for staying in touch with friends and family.

The technology, however, has its limitations. When it does not work, when messages are not sent, the characters (or we as users) are often lost. If cell phones are lost, so are phone numbers. If email doesn't work, it's hard to contact others. Physical meetings and knowing how to get a hold of people may be lost in our period of instantaneous (but often non-functioning) technologies.

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