Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Postman's 10 Principles of Technology

I copied the following in its long form because I think it respresents an interesting framework by which emergent technologies should be judged.

This list comes from "The End of Education" by the late Neil Postman. (Another book for my ever increasing 'must read' pile).


1. All technological change is a Faustian bargain. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage.

2. The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population. This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others.

3. Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes two or three powerful ideas. Like language itself, a technology predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives an accomplishments and to subordinate others.

4. A new technology usually makes war against an old technology. It competes with it for time, attention, money, prestige and a "worldview".

5. Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything.

6. Because of the symbolic forms in which information is encoded, different technologies have different intellectual and emotional biases.

7. Because of the accessibility and speed in which information is encoded, different technologies have different political biases.

8. Because of their physical form, different technologies have different sensory biases.

9. Because of the conditions in which we attend them, different technologies have different social biases.

10. Because of their technical and economic structure, different technologies have different content biases.

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