Life - Technological Determinism

So, what else to do over Xmas than get a head start on next year's Open University course: Cities & Technology from Babylon to Singapore.

So far, been looking at the birthplace of urbanism in Mesopotamia and getting into the different views of technological determinism, social constructionism and social shaping. The first is very much that technology is autonomous and has a fundamental role in the dynamics of social change (think Toffler's Future Shock); the second sees innovation as being socially negotiated by all the groups involved, and the latter is the synthesis position - technology and society shape each other.

Interestingly, the bloke who came up with the latter, Thomas P Hughes, now says that everything changes over time. Young tech societies tend to social constructionism, more mature ones can demonstrate technological determinism as the tech interests there can be powerful enough to shape society in their own image.

Is the internet going to change perspectives on this? Well, if nothing else, the web has boosted technological determinism as it has always been the home of the technologically evangelical. However, equally it has become extremely socially shaped, evolving at a rapid pace (though usually to follow the cash trail) as more and more 'stakeholders' - horrible word, but it gets the concept across - come onboard.

Hmmmm...might have to do some more reading on this once I get to the end of urbanisation in the Near East and move onto the Middle Ages.

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