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Understanding panic about technologies

“the bigger problem with panic-mongers is their insistence that each technological past was a golden age of civility and contemplation, when it was no such thing. And hilariously, many now rhapsodize nostalgically over tools that themselves were once demonized—as with modern complaints that the interwebs are killing that emotionally vibrant interaction, the telephone call.”

Clive Thompson gets into Why We Freak Out About Some Technologies but Not Others citing Genevieve Bell, director of interaction and experience research at Intel, who has long studied how everyday people incorporate new tech into their lives.

This looks to be another of those triangle things or perhaps a three factor model. The factors involve how a technology changes relationships between people with time, space, and other people.

“This cycle is very old. Indeed, it probably began almost 2,500 years ago, when the written word was on its way to unmooring knowledge from space and time and letting new combinations of people “speak” to one another. This satisfied all three rules—and it panicked Socrates, who warned that writing would destroy human memory and destroy the art of argument.”

One of the problems in using these ideas is that you can’t always predict how some new technology is going to impact these relationships. There always seems to be surprises when people get their hands on something.

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