Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Missing-the-point of Technology (revision of July 2007 piece)

You ever noticed that whole swaths of the public and those in government just haven't--and still don't get--the implications of the Internet and the blogs? It's like the officer classes during WWI, sending wave-after-wave of infantrymen into machine-gun fire because they thought 19th century military-tactics still applied. Or what of the Kaiser's inability to recall the trains sending the German Army to the fronts as part of the "Schlieffen plan" in the first-days of the Great War? Yes, this is where the legendary phrase, "The trains must run on-time," comes from.

Quit sleep-walking through history, and start reflecting on these things. The Internet and the blogs serve as an even greater innovation than the advent of the printing press. Wake up. Develop an imagination. Use your head. Now act. It's time to end the apathy and boorishness. It's not a time for "niceness," it's time to really communicate with each other, directly. Technology has a way of bringing people together, while separating them. Experience gets more and more mediated and indirect in our modern world. Where do we get it to balance-out, where we control technology rather than it controlling us? Missing the implications of any new technology can have deadly results that are far-ranging, affecting millions.

The Iraqi-insurgents appear to understand this better, but necessity was always the mother of invention. They aren't alone--someone is testing weaponry on the battlefields of the Middle East right now. At the start of the war, they were blasting-holes completely through our best battle tanks with gold-tipped RPGs, developed in Switzerland. The Merchants of Death live, and their representatives are occupying the White House and Congress. That's not the most important aspect of technology--though we should recognize its origins in war as a warning. The most terrifying and important part is how technology shapes the patterns of our everyday lives, and how it alters our environment. Now that's scary.

[Ed.--This seemed very appropriate considering the recent Hillary Clinton gaffe over the alleged Serbian sniper-flap. Dr. Seuss would be proud of that last sentence.]