[iDC] Re: Toward a Post-Post-Critical Future

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Fri Sep 29 18:26:58 EDT 2006

Thanks to Adriene Jenik for the reference to the Danish citizen
technology panel and to Armin Medosch for posting his essay. I agree
with Adriene that the Danish model is hard to imagine in the US. Armin
points out that "the forces that shape the evolution of society and
technology are observable and concrete." Who are the major corporations
that shape technological development? In the United States corporations
are in the position to make the rules for society; they exercise
control. They have an overly dominant role when it comes to deciding
what happens and how history is written. 

Technological development takes place in this context and we'd delusion
ourselves if we think that this does not mean that they serve hegemonic

David Weinberger, author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, describes how
he just got back from meetings with members of the CIA's intelligence
analysis community "who are interested in what social software can do
for them."

Networked objects and situated technologies shape our sociality in the
urban realm, they change the way we conduct our lives. The interests of
the private sector and the government are akin to those of corporations,
investment firms, etc.

Just take the widely advertised Nabaztag Smart Rabbits-- Wi-Fi-capable
networked objects. They can read aloud and sing text messages or the
newspaper or email. They can play MP3 files, provide the weather and
"use display lights to tell you if the stock market is up or down." 

Networked objects, screen-based entertainment, the vast majority of
games, and all that ubicom glitz become instrumentalized to the effect
that the minds of the population stay tuned to anything but their own
lives or the political events around them and afar. 

How can we overcome global social problems if we see them as secondary
in relation to technology? There is little hope for democratic
participation in technological development in the US. The darkest
projections of an Internet of Spying Things are hard to disprove.  

There are, however, many initiatives that counter this overwhelming

The MySociety public-interest group intends to build a Freedom of
Information Archive, ³a searchable, readable, googleable user-created
archive of FOI requests and their responses.²

To give up the field of the technological imaginary is wrong because it
leaves that space entirely to the "other" side of technology. It takes
many individuals to get a social movement on the way.   


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