Our complex relationship with Technology


My phone woke up with measles: are we in control of technology, or a slave to it’s demands?

Woke this morning to an angrily vibrating phone, on fire with little red alerts. My first action on getting up used to be making a cup of tea: now it’s hijacked by technology. Our relationship with devices is complex: love/hate, need/want. In the Social Age, it’s technology that brings us together, that provides access to communities and facilitates the discussions we have within them. It enables the formation of wide collections of loose social ties and the maintenance of increased numbers of strong and deep ones, whilst also providing access to knowledge. My first instinct in many situations is to reach for the phone: maps, directions, email and texts, tuning the guitar or sharing on Facebook, finding out how to change the oil in the car or book a festival for the summer.

There are few aspects of life that technology doesn’t touch, but it’s easy to let the horse lead the cart. We are seeing technology transforming learning: systems provide infrastructure, media can be easily created to enhance learning, language itself is translated and transformed, we capture, share and journal with ease. The learning experience is more easily quantified, both for individuals and for organisations. But quantification doesn’t always equate to quality.

Relationship with Technology

Technology facilitates, demands, connects and subverts. But who is in control?

It’s about balance: agility is about our ability to learn, to innovate and be creative, to do things differently tomorrow from how we did them yesterday. It means that we should have as much say in things as the devices we buy and carry around with us. Whilst the features of technology may connect us ever more closely and ever more vocally, scheduling, chasing and reprimanding us ever more often, we need to ensure that underneath it all we are being effective. It should be our native behaviours that are being enhanced by the technology, not the technology forcing us to adapt our behaviours.

Many systems have failed to deliver what they promised: not because the technology failed (necessarily), but because the promises were never realistic. Great learning is about great design, storytelling, opportunities for exploration, reflection, understanding context, rehearsal and practice. All of which may be facilitated by technology, but is not guaranteed by it.

Technology can make us more effective, it can help us, but only if it plays by our rules and if we learn how to use it effectively.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Adaptability, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Our complex relationship with Technology

  1. benoitdavid says:

    Yes, we are being highjacked by technology. More than it should. And it’s easy to justify it by highlighted the benefits (perceived, not necessarily real). But my first thought halfway through your first paragraph was about my daughters. 13 and 15 years old, both equipped with iPhones because their daddy is a geek, and a long, long time Mac addict.
    They use their iPhones as they wish, not as I suggest they do (me, the adult, the wiseman, full of advice on how to make their lives better). They use them naturally, without thinking… they are developing their own way of “enhancing” their lives… My thoughts then moved on to ask myself (and now all of you): how are they (really) suing the technology? Anyone actually tracking them? Not to critique, but to understand where they are going… where our kids are going.
    We, adults, professional of the learning industry, are regularly talking about the next generation of learners that we will have to work for, design and build learning solutions for them… and they are coming! Soon!
    Now I’m thinking… only after one cup of coffee… let’s make sure we do not design for them what we think they need, but for what they really need… Maybe I’ll go get another cup… 😉

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