Saturday, March 17, 2012
Is anything new under the sun?
There are these days many new books on the impact of information technologies on us and they fall into three general categories; 1) Technology is the best thing since sliced bread and is enriching our lives; 2) Technology is destroying us bit by bit; and 3) There is nothing new under the sun and we've visited all of these benefits and concerns before. I tend to fall into the third category. From Socrates's too-often visited words from the Phaedrus on the debilitating effects of writing on memory (think Google), to the debate that raged in eighteenth-century Europe on the socially stunting effects of letter writing (think Facebook), to the economic, democratic, national defensive, information spreading benefits of the railway in the nineteenth century (think Internet), there seems to be nothing entirely new out there.