Monday, June 2, 2008

Hayles and technological anti - determinism

In a review of Katherine Hayles’s Writing Machines from, author Jan Baetens calls the book “one of the most exciting examples of technological anti-determinism I have ever read”. I also found Hayles’s ideas that digital media has not replaced books and print culture very interesting and refreshing. We constantly hear technological deterministic discussions relating to the decline in record sales and the growing popularity of iPods, the diminishing impact of cable television programming with the invention of the DVR, and the decreasing popularity of AM/FM radio with the creation of various internet and HD channels. While there are many benefits of these new mediums of communication, the idea that “new media” will totally replace “old media” can be unsettling. I appreciate Hayles’s presentation of an idea that differs from much of the buzz that we hear each time a Sam Goody closes or an AM/FM station changes format to try to appease a larger audience. While it is helpful to adjust to advancements in media, it is important to value old forms as well.

Here is a link to Baeten’s article.

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

What I always wonder, though, is where the critics of technological determinism get their information about technological determinism from, apart from other critics? NO specific examples are cited in this instance, and I wonder who it is that says that new media eliminate older ones, certainly not McLuhan, for example, who argues that when media become obsolesced they find a new niche, typically as an art form. I just find most criticisms of technological determinism to be straw man arguments.