Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
  Information Technology Systems as Publics, by John Monberg

Claims about Information Technology

Alvin Toffler's and Newt Gingrich's manifestos, as well as the "You Will" AT&T commercials exemplify the tone of many claims about technology. They trumpet the message that the ineluctable advance of information technologies will determine a new type of future, a new society.

MIT Media Lab head Nicholas Negroponte, in his book, Being Digital, makes a typical claim: "Early in the next milenium your right and left cuff links or earrings may communicate with each other by low orbiting satellites."

Another example is Mark Draper's (National education Task Force Inc.) statement, "Forget geography. The Internet transcends time and space."

And, as Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Gerald Levin exhorted, technological change will reach into the most intimate, personal level by redefining our subjectivity and our sense of self in a media-dense society: "It's not the digital network, or 500 channels, or near infinite numbers of channels--it's the one channel that I create. It's me."

Such rhetoric shapes our understanding and expectations of the future we all must inhabit, but these -- statements are also misleading; they focus upon technology instead of identifying the political and social futures we might desire.

[ []Chandler characterizes the tone of technological determinism. []Kling describes the assumptions underlying stories about computerization. ]

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