Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Technology - What Drives Man's Progress, and Notes on using modern technology for letter writing, communication:

It isn't because of the technology that I was able to write a long letter. I can just as easily write all of this by hand, if not easier. True, I'd have to either recopy it by hand to have a copy, or go make photocopies. The reason I stopped writing the lengthy letters I used to write years ago is because of the phone. Long distance got cheap. And for more than 10 years I've been keeping a lengthy ongoing journal. So I'm also ambivalent about writing things twice (journal and in letter).

But it was really fun to see that I could send that article with the picture on and then get responses to it. That was actually surprising. And is it ok to just write a letter and send it out to several people? Somehow that sounds so impersonal. I feel like I should just be posting a letter somewhere so that people can come to it as they wish, respond as they wish.

I don't think it is technology that is to blame for our problems with the results of using it. The problem is in why we want our technologies in the first place. Simple technologies a long time ago came from man inventing and making things to make life better for himself (his tribe, community). At some point it became about amassing power and riches for a certain few - whenever and wherever they started having leaders with huge empires. There were always struggles for power in the upper ranks. (All the way down the line I guess). Man alternated between plundering and trading for riches.

Fast forward to the last 500 years: The American colonies were an outgrowth of that plundering and trading cycle. To make riches though it takes a lot of cooperation. The British seemed to have been a bit better at the game of cooperation for riches for whatever reason. For one thing all the power was not held by the king. The king could only keep his power by keeping his barons or lords happy. The rich men who came over here to further their riches in the colonies did not like it at all when their king started to cramp their style too much. These self-interested moneymen were able to get a lot of people to cooperate in breaking free of their tyrant, in the name of the freedom cause. The push for technology, the industrial revolution, came out of this desire for riches. Technologies keep being invented to make more riches. And I don't think they can exist if there aren't enough people wanting some part of those riches. It is the system of capitalistic and self -interest that enables the technologies to be created, produced and distributed.

I think the reason we have technology is because of our economic systems, which mankind has set in motion so far back. (The issue is so entwined I'm not sure I can sort it out.) And I think the only way a technological way of life can exist is by having a system of capitalism, which always need new markets. I would love someone to prove that I'm wrong there. And I'm now getting frustrated because I don't want to spend the time or energy to explain what I mean in writing. Much as I like writing, it takes a lot more effort than speaking person-to-person, being able to see when a point hasn't made sense and to respond to that.

It's true we just don't have enough of the big picture to really know whether our current ways will end up well. And, what I argue to myself is that the world of human experience is too immense to be experienced in any one age, or type of existence. There are aspects of being, good or bad, that can only be experienced, explored and learned from under specific conditions, i.e. the times we live in. So that is my answer to me on my concerns about technology!

The preceding is an excerpt of a draft for a reply to a friend about my feelings on being comfortable or not in using modern technology. Whether or not I sent it, I don't remember.

I certainly think we delude ourselves that our modern technologies make improvements in our lives. We are not able to see a big enough picture and are only able to compare our so called improvement within a small time frame. Yes, we have an apparent time saving device - but we only need it because we have ourselves created such complicated hurried lives. To be happy is what we most need, I believe. And that quality is something that we can only find within ourselves. It will not come from anything without. We seem to be more and more losing our ability to be happy from within because we are spending our harried hurried lives looking for happiness on the outside. We seem to believe our technologies will help bring us that happiness. Let us at least not fool ourselves about this.

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