A contrarian view of postmodern society and information technologies

AI and Society 28 (1):51-54 (2013)
Abstract
In this short paper—little more than a note, even a short “contrarian” sermon for this anniversary volume—what I do is argue that even the allegedly most “revolutionary” inventions of our computer-driven age are not revolutionary in the sense that their impacts are “driving” society. Some of them are genuinely revolutionary, I admit, but in the reverse direction. The inventions don’t “impact societies”; rather, particular communities within society use the technical languages that are at their core, invent them, embed them in machines, and so on. It is not inventions but particular groups within modern—and so-called postmodern—societies that have invented and use technical languages which are embedded in gadgets that are said to “drive” modern or postmodern societies. And they do so only in one sense: they were invented and are used by various communities in our kinds of societies for a variety of ends. And if this is so, and if we feel those ends are undemocratic or positively anti-democratic, I conclude that we should resist them any way we can, even politically.
Keywords Information technology  Postmodern society  Interactionism  Ethnomethodology
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