Technological Agency

“The iPhone… is sterile. Rather than a platform that invites innovation, the iPhone comes preprogrammed.  So too with the Internet,…designed to accept any contribution that followed a basic set of rules.”  Both, “tethered to a network of control.”

 The preceding quotes taken from Zittrain’s article, “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it,” assumes that “sterility” comprises a potential problem for society.  The issue that I am addressing concerns sterility in relation to society’s agency.

 Firstly, we do not “have” to use these appliances.  They only run our lives or cause us to be stunted in our growth if we let them.  They are simply tools that assist us in completing the “work” we deem important to accomplish.  A pencil, in many cases, can accomplish the same things. 

 This may sound simplistic, but sometimes we create more work for ourselves by involving a computer, rather than a pencil.

 In any case, when most consumers in society purchase a technological product, it is with the understanding of its capabilities.  In most cases those same consumers are thrilled, and with the advancements of software, don’t even come close to utilizing their new product purchases to their inherent potentials.

 Those who want more become hackers.  Hackers may only seem a concern when it comes to capitalism, but that is another thought for another blog post.

 Even from a comp instructor’s point of view, there currently exists plenty of software to meet the need to engage students with new challenges.  I believe the word for it is “creativity.”

 This comment serves as a sweet segue into the next article by Dana Boyd entitled, “Why Youth (Hear) Social Network Sites:  The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.”  Youth have become creative in their use of social networks.

 According to this article, youth even go so far as to create “mirror networks” to keep their lives private from peeping parents.  I suppose these youth can be labeled as a type of “hacker.”  Essentially, they beat the system.

 This all comes back to the issue of agency.  Youth buy into “sterile” social networks with an outside group threatening to control them because they know they either can walk away or find a way around it.

 Isn’t agency a marvelous thing?

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