relationship of technology to freedom...

Robin Martin (roses9@IDT.NET)
Sat, 18 Oct 1997 15:32:38 -0500

(On subject heading: perhaps there is no relationship, and I'm all wet,
which is certainly an idea that I'm willing to explore as well!)

At 06:00 PM 10/16/97 -0700, Edryce Reynolds wrote:

>Does a book limit our freedom?

Is that the question we really want to ask, or HOW does it change the
nature of our freedom? To say that the printing press didn't have profound
implications in more ways than simply giving us "more" freedom, whatever
that means, is to allow the medium to go unquestioned, and assume that the
"content" is more important than the what we do and how we do it.

>Does a library require "adaptation"

Indeed. To learn to use the library is to take time to learn how to us it,
is to take time away from experiential learning, is to give greater &
greater credibility to what others' have to say over what we find within

No, I don't necessarily agree with all that I'm writing simply
wanting you to think that the structures within which we place our
knowledge may in fact have profound implications over how we view reality.
Is that not much of the essence of founding an alternative school? Why
then should not we question the assumptions behind the media that we use?
Are the media and technology not as much a part of the structures of our
society nowadays as other institutions?

Was just reading some Neil Postman this morning for reflections--ah now
here's a book you all might find vibrates well with who you are: Teaching
as a Subversive Activity! Wow! I'm loving it (so far), but Postman's
other book Technolopoly is really giving me pause to think, because like
Edryce, I've tended to simply accept the medium as something positive, over
which we have complete control, and I still think we can have control over
it, but still, am beginning to see other issues coming into play as well.

>Maybe it is helpful to look at technology critically; however, why can't
>we also look at how it helps us? We are still putting television down.
>Human beings are not (IMHO) such passive receptors! We are not so easily
>programmed unless we decide to be!

Indeed. I've also written an article about the many uses of technology in
adult education (which has been my area of focus this past year), but this
article happens to be one that questions and critically examines it
instead. What wrong with that? The problem with simply "putting tv down,"
which I do not do in my analysis, is that it neglects to look at the deeper
issues, and what I was trying to do in sharing my ideas through this
article is go beyond that, to really examining some of the assumptions
inherent in the begin to get behind McCluhan's idea that the
"medium is the message."

>This message was stimulated by a message with the following quotes:
>"To what extent does our technology allow us to be fully integrated and
>balanced with our humanity? "
> My answer to this is: what does that question even SAY?
> Stuart Chase, in his book TYRANNY OF WORDS, would
> restate the sentence as, "To what extent does our
> blah allow us to be fully blah and blah with our blah?"
> The "blahs" represent words that have no clear
> referent. We need definitions before the question
> can even be understood!

Good point, indeed! And perhaps, my article would have been improved had I
taken time to clarify terms a bit before digging into the topic.

>"Is it a force that truly opens up our choices, as many people would
>believe, thus allowing us to be more free? Or does it subtly limit our
>freedom, forcing us to adapt to its restrictions?"
> More blahs. Need definitions, operational definitions.

The only problem with defining words and operationalizing is that sometimes
we get caught up in the terms and neglect to look at the real concepts
being discussed, and perhaps in reading between the lines of what I write,
you'll find that you can indeed see how I do define these important concepts.

>I will visit the website to see if I can become more enlightened.

I hope so, and I'll bet you find conclusions that are much different than
what you expected...I'll be interested to hear what you think.

A topic that I'd be interested to see addressed on this list is to hear how
kids in a free learning environment approach technology. I suspect that by
restructuring how we treat kids and creating such a completely different
way of approaching learning that would indeed change the way that they
approach media. While many might fear kids don't know when to "stop"
watching tv and so it should be regulated, otherwise kids would just watch
it all day and the traditional "their brains will rot" away --is an
argument that probably doesn't hold any grounds in an SVS school. Please
share--how are issues around tv and computers handled in SVS schools (as
well as technologies such as books)? How is it decided what books get
purchased, what programs get bought, what channels get watched? Do most
children tend to use a range of media naturally? Do some kids tend toward
certain media more than others? What is the role of story-telling as a
medium for learning? Just curious.

Best regards,