Thursday, February 21, 2008

Disruptive Tech for the Poor, Against Social Stability

The epic dichotomous tension in the realm of social justice has been the goal of social stability versus tangible empowerment. When social stability is the goal driving one's whole political operation, then technological change becomes readily apparent as pathological, an opponent, and seats itself in the psyche as the devil. In archetypical narrative, we tell the story featuring a peasant class village in a state of balance, functional, and reasonably happy. A lone traveler or a returning peasant introduces a car, transistor radio, or cell phone to the town, and soon every social fabric is unravelled and the village has the seed evils of Gotham City.

With the above, technology destroys through destabilizing once functional social constructs.

Juxtapose this with another role of technological change: dethroning the de facto powerful. The list of rude intrusions that took down the powerful are many:

  1. ATT ruled American's connectivity to one another, then along came the internet.

  2. Microsoft charged several hundred dollars for a suite of Office software, then Google introduces the same so free you do not need to own a computer.

  3. The Vatican controlled hermeneutics, then the Protestants distributed Biblical interpretation to everyone literate, then hermeneutics discourse started looking more at corporeal phenomenon and rediscovered ancient Greek natural science, which dethroned the lay preacher (up to 1980, then the Christian Coalition dethroned science from the Executive Branch of the USA, using postmodernism).

In all the above, the replacing modality is always cheaper for the user agents. To be taken seriously as a priest you need a really ornate huge cathederal, as a scientist you need the much smaller laboratory or just natural setting and ability to write in a certain style.

With the above, technology destroys the monopoly of anachronistic power holders and distributes the operation to less privileged classes.

What to do, dear Social Justice League? Be pro-technology and destroy happy peasant villages, or be anti-technology and invite multi-millennial rule by soul-crushing scum like the Vatican elite 1 ?

Here's a clue to the answer: the happy peasant village is nowhere to be found (outside of Hollywood stage sets), and exists only as an urban sophisticate myth. Choosing a defensive posture to serve such a "place" is equivalent to choosing a defensive posture to serve unicorns.

Buy that peasant a cell phone or a cloudbook. Better yet, allow her to program it.

1 (Note: New-age social justice activists are the most likely candidates for the station formerly held by the Vatican. If a fan of "What the Bleep" ever wins public office, assume a fight or flight modality.)
Supporting or supplemental material:
Wired Geekipedia: Disruptive Technology


The Serpent Lord said...

New technologies are random and accidental mutations. They APPEAR intentional, clever, and rational because of the selective forces which determine which new technologies get used, shared and noticed.

So no technology is embraced unconditionally, but when diverse technologies are embraced according to their perceived fitness for a particular application, the result is that technology seems to evolve in the direction of giving more advantage to those who can and do embrace them.

However, established power structures can use this to enhance their stability, just as firmly established species use selection of random mutations to stabilize themselves against more rapidly evolving germs and parasites. Big old corporations and even authoritarian states like China do this every year.

To keep up with the curve of evolving technology, an entity needs to become a technology for selecting new technology to incorporate into itself. New Age and Postmodern thinking are mutations and technologies which were disruptive in their time but by themselves do not include a mechanism for selecting and incorporating new technology.

They may even act like epidemics whose lasting impact is to make other systems more robust at coping with future disruptions.

LanceMiller said...

"[New age/Postmodernism] may even act like epidemics whose lasting impact is to make other systems more robust at coping with future disruptions."

Good one.