humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

The Most Important Thing About A Technology Is How It Changes People

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 29, 2011

I promised you part deux:

“I am always reminded of how small changes in the details of a digital design can have profound unforeseen effects on the experiences of the humans who are playing with it. The slightest change in something as seemingly trivial as the ease of use of a button can sometimes completely alter behavior patters.

For instance, Stanford University researcher Jeremy Bailenson has demonstrated that changing the height of one’s avatar in immersive virtual reality transforms self-esteem and social self-perception. Technologies are extensions of ourselves, and, like the avatars in Jeremy’s lab, our identities can be shifted by the quirks of gadgets. It is impossible to work with information technology without also engaging in social engineering.

One might ask, “If I am blogging, twittering, and wikiing a lot, how does that change who I am?” or “If the ‘hive mind’ is my audience, who am I?”

12 step addict

The above is a quote from another of my recent purchases, Jason Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget. Recently I’ve been studying social thinker Bruno Latour, who considers that societies are made up networks that include non-human elements. Thus, your computer could be considered a ‘person’ when you are engaged with it. Alternatively, another French sociologist, Jacques Ellul, spent much of his life concerned with the way in which technology overwhelms and de-humanizes us. I have no opinion as yet. But it is pretty darn interesting, don’t you think? If you’d like some musical inspiration, check out the classic track below by Styx.


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Styx | Mr Roboto

One Response to “The Most Important Thing About A Technology Is How It Changes People”

  1. shanoxilt said

    Hey. This is shanoxilt again. I’ve been looking for the agnostic Venn Diagram from agnosticforums but I can’t find it. Do you have a link?

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