Sunday, April 4, 2010

How Green Is My iPad? & Who Were The Luddites?

How Green Is My iPad?

Click here for a discussion which ends with the assertion "All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library."

Who Were The Luddites?

Machine smashers of the 19th century or members of a fascinating social movement with visionary insights into the unfolding drama of industrialization?

The impact of today's technologies on social relations and the planet itself is becoming an intriguing field of inquiry. However so far the discussion of nuclear power, biotechnology, deforestation, automobiles or computers is pretty much dominated by industry and government who want us to take all this for granted.

In this context it is inspiring to remember the Luddites who questioned industrial civilization at its very beginning in England during the introduction of mechanized textile mills. They knew that the power-looms that they selectively destroyed were not just a technology but would create a whole new set of relations: Factory work, child labor, and the demise of artisan and skilled labor. They anticipated that the new machines, that they themselves had helped build, were not the promised tool to help them in their work but would eventually become part of a machine culture with power over human life and even human consciousness.

Click on the links below for a two part talk given by Iain Boal, an independent scholar and historian of technology. He taught a course on the Luddites at Stanford University.

Note: During the introduction, you'll hear the term Time of Useful Consciousness. This is an aeronautical term. It's the time between the onset of oxygen deficiency and the loss of consciousness, the brief moments in which a pilot may save the plane.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Note: The download of these audio files could take several minutes, depending on the speed of your connection and other resources.