Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Case Study: Technological Determinism

I will be making a presentation on January 24th about Google and hypertext (or hyperlinks). The topic that my material relates to is the Technological Determinism section at the end of chapter 2 in the textbook. Technological determinism is the idea that the message broadcasted through technology is the medium itself rather than the actual data transmitted. This is the opposite of cultural determinism which states that culture determines how technology develops and how affects us. My main focus is on hypertext. Hypertext is the text on a web page that links you to another source, either within that page or another. Hypertext has revolutionized the exchange of information in that within a document, an author can simply place links to background or supporting information, rather than attempt to provide all of that information to the reader. This combined with the speed and vast resources of Google have made us into a generation that can consume information at rates unimaginable ten years ago. This means that we can choose which media to consume or not consume at greater flexibility. Where this topic relates to technological determinism, is that the medium of hypertext and Google give us the ability to tune out or avoid dissenting opinions or facts, or topics we are simply apathetic to. While the concept itself is not new, I think the speed and asynchronous nature of hypertext has translated into the physical world as well. We jump from information to information constantly skipping that which we do not feel like partaking of, because so much is at our fingertips.

1 comment:

Daniel Leake said...

I gave my talk on Technological Determinism on Thursday. I felt the talk went very well. I spoke on how Google has used hypertext to change culture in many ways. I focused on the influence Google has had on the way we intake and process data. I also touched on Google's questionable privacy practices, which worries myself in particular.
The class seemed to engage pretty well. I was asked about the definition of hypertext, and I posed the question of whether the class thought Google's influence on our data intake gave us a less diverse array of opinions and facts on different subjects. One student said that while that may be true, it also gives us a more diverse array of opinions. Ultimately, the user decides. I agree with his assessment. It could go either way. Overall, I would say I enjoyed researching and presenting the case study.