Friday, July 1, 2011

Technology and Society

New World Notes News
Vol. 4, No. 27 -- July 1, 2011

This week in New World Notes, radio programs #174-175, July 5 & 12, 2011

Technology and Society

The Antichrist, in the shape of Steve Jobs, holds a recent
"smart phone" variation, the

The new "smart phones" such as Apple's iPhone have been revealed to be excellent devices for spying on the phones' owners. So this might be a good time to hear Dr. Neil Postman's celebrated and witty lecture, "Technology and Society" (1998).

Postman proposes six questions that society--and individuals--ought to consider before deciding to adopt any particular new technology.

Part 1 (NWN #174) includes some of Postman's introduction and his discussion of the first four questions.

Part 2 (NWN #175) includes

1. the final two questions and Postman's remarks on the relationship of TV and religion;
2. a news article on yet another spooky aspect of smart phones;
3. remarks by technology-law expert Jonathan Zittrain on the government's use of other "smart" wireless technology to spy on citizens (plus more bad news about the iPhone).

Above: Neil Postman in 1998.
Below: Should the U.S. taxpayer have subsidized construction of a supersonic passenger jet ("SST") to compete with the Anglo-French Concorde (1976-2003)? Postman applies two of his six questions to the proposal. Exactly what problem does this new technology solve? And exactly whose problem is it?

Notes, credits, & links

For many years a professor at New York University, Neil Postman wrote extensively on educational theory and theory of technology, as well as other works of cultural criticism. He died in 2003.

Postman spoke at Calvin College in January 1998. This lecture is available as 7 videos on YouTube. Jonathan Zittrain spoke at the University of Hartford on October 20, 2010 (recorded by me).

A good deal of Zittrain's October 20 lecture appears in New World Notes #142.

Music added (to Part Two): from Bruce Cockburn, If I Had a Rocket Launcher.

New World Notes is produced under the auspices (Latin for "spreading chestnut tree") of WWUH-FM, a community service of that beacon of light in darkest Connecticut, the University of Hartford.

You can listen to any installment of New World Notes online or else download it (as an mp3 audio file) for later listening. The show is archived at both and (from #90 onwards) The Internet Archive. Either link should get you a reverse-chrono listing of available installments. Or browse the show's Web site: Each installment has a page, and each page has links to the recorded audio. See the gray sidebar on the right ("CONTENTS [Links]") for a table of contents.

Series overview: Political and social commentary in a variety of genres. Exploring the gap between what we want ... and what they're trying to make us settle for.
Above: Technology-law expert Jonathan Zittrain.
Below: Further thoughts by Neil Postman. (Click to enlarge.)

Coming soon (Tuesday air debut date shown)
  • July 19 -- Speaking Truth to the Disempowered: Glen Ford
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