“A fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it. Our own culture is like water for the fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it.” Stephanie Quappe and Giovanna Cantatore
I am astounded. I unraveled the interview “What can cultural study do?” By Steven Connor and chronicled a solitary terrain called “Technoculture.” Technology is unceasingly cogitated to be the crux causation of economic and social change in the world. Some of technological innovation has been the catalyst for revolutionary changes in the culture of its time. As we know, the invention of the wheel in ancient civilization transformed transportation and travel, the invention of currency transformed trade and spread capital around the world, the invention of printing press transformed learning, media, communication and knowledge dissemination all over the world.
Additionally, consider the far-reaching impacts of electricity, the steam engine, the telephone, airplanes, nuclear power, genetics etc. on the cultures of the world. Jacques Ellul, enquired in his writing “Is there a Technical Culture?’ and concluded that ‘a technical culture is impossible. He argued that ‘technique is universal, but culture cannot be, for human beings are not universal. We all have a place, a race, a formation and a specific time.’ The idea of technology is autonomous is central to modernist thought. Technological determination presumes a linear, causal connection between advancements in technology and social progress.
Technology itself is presumed neutral and free from all cultural and ideological contamination. There is a relationship between society and technology which seems to control our day to day life. “Science, Technology and Society Studies” (STSS), first emerged in the 1960s and developed a variety of theoretical perspectives to demonstrate the social and cultural origins of technology. Specific technologies, STSS has shown, embody the social and cultural forces that lie behind their development.
The term “Technoculture” itself emphasizes the deep connection between technology and culture and forces us to realize that the “technological” is seldom divorced from the “human”. It is within (processed food, medical technologies etc), It is beside (mobiles etc), outside (satellite) and implant it (a pacemaker).Technoculture theory – or the cultural studies of technology – investigates the complex relationship between technology and human beings to show how technological advances affect cultural spaces and who is socially, culturally and politically privileged with developments in technology.
Technologies are often implicated in the production of myths in which patterns of domination and exploitation are regularly reproduced. For example, the developments in computer technologies and the emergence of cyberspace. Glossy computer adverts project these developments as a gateway to unlimited vistas of connectivity and infotainment with an electronic democratic heaven just around the corner. Technoculture theory reveals the darker side of these developments.
Certain problems raise here such as 1) a nightmare scenario of global consumerism. 2) Increasing unemployment 3) Domination by surveillance and transnational corporations etc. It is also feared that instead of ushering in an electronic democracy, cyberspace may catapult the world into a surreal mix of psycho-war and corporate feudalism. But as we know the dream of utopia derives from our dissatisfaction with the present and our hope to create a blissful future for the human race. It is time for us to realize the importance of nature as Wordsworth coined “God” and be conscious to the loopholes of our culture too. An indication enkindled and I recited the lines silently.