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Luddites and technological determinsim ...

Reading Kirkpatrick Sale's book about the battle of the Luddites against the Industrial Revolution (1), one could conclude that Luddism and neo-Luddism are forms of technological determinism. That is to say, that their advocates believe technology dictates how it will be used. This was also the central thesis of MacLuhan. It is often the case that those who vehemently oppose something are heavily influenced by the very thing they oppose.

Others, who refute technological determinism, argue that usage is socially determined. In other words, the most radical amongst them believe that the way we use a machine is uniquely the result of an on-going social and cultural process.

A more accurate picture is probably to be had somewhere between the two extremes. Whatever, Sale is no doubt right that we need to ask a series of fundamental questions about technology and how we use it.

(1) Kirkpatrick Sale, Rebels Against the Future, Addison-Wesley, Reading MA, 1995

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Created: August 8th, 1996 - Last up-dated: August 8th, 1996