Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Which modernity and which technology?

First, I am still struggling to define 'technology'. If I take the broad term so as to match the equally broad concept of 'modernity', technology could encompass all the mechanical inventions plus the social systems of communication, management, governance among others. But then, anything systematically constructed could be called technology which would make the definition too broad. Brey's notion of the micro-macro levels should not be applied to the social phenomenon only, but also the scope of technology (e.g. telecommunication technology in overall, or simply SMS). And in both areas, the various levels intersect and interact.

In this sense, one thing that can be easily overlooked is that it's not the broad terms of technology per se that characterized modernity, but the way some specific technologies were utilized. Murata's piece partly implies this subject by comparing modernization of Japan and China, but in most other chapters it is rather untouched. What specific forms of modernity has chosen to utilize some specific technologies while ruling out the others? It gets even more complicated if we take into account that there is not a single modernity, however broad we may want to define it. For example, there are huge differences between the 'Western' modernity that resulted from the Renaissance, enlightenment and capitalistic developments and the forced Westernization of the other parts of the world (Which again differs significantly among them). This notion is important not only in the philosophical sense, but that the social construction and values can differ. Different forms of values and labor relationships take place, and it inevitably results in different choice of technologies in each society or different use patterns of the same technology. Thus, I think the contextualization is the most crucial step that should be present when exploring into the interaction of technology in the modern life.

PS. Weren't we supposed to keep our personal blogs (e.g. http://nkim3.blogspot.com/) for the reading notes, instead of posting it here? Well... in fact, for comments and feedbacks, it looks better this way.

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