“Theories and Figures of Technical Mediation,” por Steven Dorrestijn
The Moral Status of Technical Artifacts, edited by Peter Kroes and Peter-Paul Verbeek, 2014
The Cognitive Turn in Sociology
“One last thought: It may be that the craving for public intellectuals is a kind of nostalgic longing for a time when we could reasonably imagine that even though we ourselves couldn’t get an intellectual grip on the complexities of modern society, out there, somewhere, there were smart people at the controls. These mythical public intellectuals we long for were those whose cultural function was to reassure us with their calm, accessible, and smart talk that people who knew what they were doing were steering the ship. I suspect the unnerving truth is that the trade-off for the benefits of an unfathomably complex technological society is the disquieting reality that understanding is now beyond the reach of any intellectual, public or otherwise. ”
I think Sacasas makes a fine point here: The nostalgic longing is for a mythical past. There still are smart people at the controls, but diviners they are not. They, past and present, were/are beset by faults and foibles, predilections and priorities–and while they may have a set of general interests in mind when they make their proclamations, that set will always be shaped by national, cultural, linguistic, economic and/or political interests. With that said, I am not sure the tradeoff he mentions works: when was there ever a time when anyone understood the full complexity of a society–high technology or no–and its associated workings? Perhaps “public intellectuals” should remain plural–to the extent that there will be public intellectuals, teaming up with others might (partially) offset the weight of explaining it all. No one needs to have all the answers, but the right group might fare better.
Adam Thierer’s technology blog: http://techliberation.com/2014/04/29/defining-technology/