Show blog for Too Fat for Our Pants on Radio One, 91 FM, Dunedin, New Zealand. Airs Mondays 10 am - 12 pm.

If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.
~ George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Talk About Technology

 Too Fat For Our Pants airs on Radio One, 91FM Dunedin, on Mondays from 10 - 12.
Listen to the full show, including music and interviews, here.

I had a bit of a time writing this show, partly because the sun was shining and I was stuck inside writing with a post-Onefest hangover, and I live downtown so I could hear all the Rugby World Cup to-do, bands playing and people cheering, but also because discussions about significant new pieces of technology are always, have always been, very fraught. Writing this felt like a minefield more than any other topic I’ve covered yet – mostly because I tend to deal in grievous examples, so I’m always reasonably certain of which side of the fence I’m on and why. But technology in the broadest sense of the word has been such a mixed blessing that you have to be sort of circumspect and broad of vision in order to honestly examine the utility and social impact of whatever new tool is under discussion. A lot of the tension around the acceptance of new inventions and new technologies has to do with the interrelatedness of the history of technology and the history of work; the function of technology being the efficient performance of tasks formerly done less efficiently by humans, mistrust of technology was based on a fear of usurpation. Labourers having only their physical labour to sell, the invention of a machine that does their job faster and cheaper in most cases costs them their livelihood. And work – who does what for whom, for how much and how often – has a great deal to do with power and money. So you can’t talk about the history or philosophy of technology without at least implicitly pointing to the history or philosophy of both power and economics.