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Technology and Society - Postman (1998)

Last night I watched Neil Postman's speech, a series of seven YouTube videos. In total it lasted over an hour. It was most interesting listening to him slice and dice media and technology; especially interesting was where Postman saw no evidence how technology would have any part to play in the classroom. Here is part one of the seven videos.

During his entire talk he focused on six key questions relating to technology, which I've transcribed. I find it an interesting set of questions that could be used as a road map and even be applied today by #developers.

1) What is the problem to which this technology is a solution?

2) Who's problem is it? Who will benefit from it and who will pay for it.

3) What new problems may be created because we have solved the problem?

4) Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological solution?

5) What changes in language are being enforced by new technologies and what is being gained and lost by such changes?

6) What sort of people and institutions acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?

Shortly after watching these videos, I also watched a three part, 30 minute interview with Aldous Huxley, he was interviewed by Mike Wallace in 1959. Referring to technology and power Huxley answers...
"...these are all instruments for attaining power... it's extremely important not to let any one man or any one small group have too much power or for too long a time..."
As I was watching it I began to think of the recent overwhelming success of Facebook, and Google for that matter, and whether or not Huxley was indeed referring to exactly this type of instrument.

It's all left me wondering what lessons are to be taken away from this...?
What are your thoughts?

Photo credit: US Department of Education / Foter / CC BY

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