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[Nettime-bold] <nettime> double-ended pen digest [byfield, cisler]
nettime's_armchair_historian on Mon, 8 Oct 2001 18:35:02 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-bold] <nettime> double-ended pen digest [byfield, cisler]


Re: <nettime> Steven Levy: Tech's Double-Edged Sword
     t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
     cisler <cisler {AT} pobox.com>

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Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 12:12:27 -0400
From: t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Steven Levy: Tech's Double-Edged Sword

geert {AT} xs4all.nl (Sat 10/06/01 at 10:15 PM +1000):

> What do nettimers think of the double-edged sword theory? The 'discovery'
> that evil forces also use technology can hardly be called new. The rise of
> this discourse tells more about the collective dream, uphold by so many,
> that technology is something essentially good (which then suddenly, in a
> shockwave, gets 'misused'). Technology criticism, for example the one
> developed after Hiroshima, so dominant in the 20st century and particular in
> the post World War II period, seems to be forgotton. The unwareness of this
> rich tradition of thought by Bill Joy and now Steven Levy I find stunning.
> Both can hardly be called anti-intellectuals. They are not ill-educated.
> They are brilliant and have deep a deep understanding in information
> technology and its broader science context. Is it a lack in humanities
> knowledge? Have they never heard of the decades long struggles amongst
> scientists about the ethics of science related to atomic power? Or the
> enormous debates within cybernetic circles over exactly this issue in the
> fifties? We cannot expect from 'leading' technologists (and their
> journalists) to be aware of contemporary post-modern theory. Geek culture
> has associated itself with New Age and science fiction, not with Zizek,
> Butler and Negri. So be it. The least these thinkers could do is to show a
> basic awareness of their own history. Perhaps that's too much to ask. I read
> into the pop culture commentary below a cry for the need to teach the
> philosophy of technology. Technology is sophisticated, so why shouldn't its
> discourse? Geert


geert, maybe the best way to make clear to you why what you ask for
is absurd would be to describe bachelard, theweleit, and flusser as
'americans.' obviously, they aren't americans. why, then, would you
ask bill joy or steven levy to think like 'europeans'? they are not
'thinkers' in the sense that you mean at all: they're practitioners.
one is a computer scientist, and one is a journalist. if you really
think that an american who's written a book is therefore a 'thinker'
by european standards, you're, uh, missing out. (please remember--i
know it can be hard for europeans to grasp this--that being a think-
er doesn't have anything to do with writing a good book, or even an
excellent or useful or enduring book.)

in the US we have a well-established cultural tradition of speaking
WHILE you are thinking or even BEFORE you think. it isn't better or
worse than the european obsession with thinking *before* you speak--
it's just different; each has benefits and drawbacks.

for example, you europeans never could have come up with a category
like 'technologist,' which you now use very freely. obviously, it's
an american idea. why? because it involves an -ism that's devoid of
any moral, ethical, social, or political component. sorry, but only 
us americans could think that kind of shit up *while we're talking*.
you euros would get all bogged down in your overweening 'responsibi-
lity' to the past. our responsibility is to the FUTURE. i can't say
we're 100% sure what that means just yet, but it's not like you eur-
opeans have a friggin clue what a responsibility to the past means--
footnotes? war? good design? funny costumes? good cheese? uh-huh...

having said that, i have absolutely *no* idea what the double-edged
sword theory is, beyond being a phrase that reeks of a certain earn-
estness. is it related to the exegetical tradition of two swords? i
bet it is.

cheers,
t
-

\|/ ____ \|/
 {AT} ~/ oO \~ {AT}     a nationalist is a globalist whose city got bombed
/_( \__/ )_\  
\_U__/         

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Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2001 09:48:48 -0700
Subject: Re: <nettime> Steven Levy: Tech's Double-Edged Sword
From: cisler <cisler {AT} pobox.com>

Please keep in mind that news magazines favor journalists who can put things
into a clear (or black and white perspective). Most of them will not carry
long articles addressing every part of the issue.  Binary treatments of
complex issues have been standard. this includes politics and certainly
technology. Look at the discourse on the "digital divide."

As for the history of science and technology (not just philosophy) it has
been taught for quite a while.  The one academic I know, Langdon Winner, has
a long and respected body of work, but he is rather marginalized at the
present in his current job.

Another group, the Jacques Ellul Society, comprised of many techno-skeptics,
is not that active and by their very nature, does not favor the Internet as
a medium of exchange.

Steve Cisler

> From: "geert lovink" <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
> Reply-To: "geert lovink" <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
> Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 22:15:12 +1000
> To: <nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net>
> Subject: <nettime> Steven Levy: Tech's Double-Edged Sword
> 
> What do nettimers think of the double-edged sword theory? The 'discovery'
> that evil forces also use technology can hardly be called new.


 I read
> into the pop culture commentary below a cry for the need to teach the
> philosophy of technology. Technology is sophisticated, so why shouldn't its
> discourse? Geert

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