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The article in question can be regarded as a manifestation of technological determinism. Shapin (2007) claims that people know little about the way technology develops as it is impossible to predict which innovations and technological advances will be used and which will perish. The author also stresses that people still tend to utilize things they are accustomed to as they know how to use them and know the benefits of this usage.
It is possible to note that the author provides sound arguments and helps understand the lack of awareness of technology and its development. Shapin (2007) provides examples of the way some innovations become widespread while others disappear. The example of the telegraph and mail tubes is quite stunning. However, one of the most valuable insights provided in the article is concerned with the view of innovation.
It is necessary to stress that the author questions the innovation-centric account of tech. People do not try to create something new (innovative), but rather upgrade old things. People’s futurism is somewhat ridiculed as humanity still drives cars instead of flying, and there are no Moon resorts. Shapin (2007) claims that people often focus on things while innovation is something more complex. It is the way things are used.
Finally, the author’s argument concerning the social shaping of technology is quite remarkable. It becomes clear that the development of technology is determined by the values (as well as goals) existing in the society. Philosophical views and even preferences shape the world of technology that is aimed at making people’s lives more comfortable. All in all, the article provides helpful insights into the way technology and society are interconnected.
The second paragraph of the article entails one of the major ideas of the article and one of the most intriguing points to consider. Shapin (2007) claims that every innovation has elements of some older (or even ancient) artifacts. Thus, laptops are upgraded variants of the typewriter while cars are new carriages. The nature of innovation can be regarded from a new perspective.
Thus, people often think of innovation as something brand new. Things people have never seen or done before. Nonetheless, it appears that innovation is the alteration of something that existed for a while. This understanding can upset someone as people like thinking their might is limitless. However, the understanding of the nature of innovation and technology can help in the development of a clear view of human society.
Shapin (2007) unveils the nature of humanity. A human is a “Tool-using animal” (as cited in Shapin, 2007, para. 2). In other words, people are not concerned about creating something but rather focus on their needs and ways to achieve them more effectively. There is no need in creating new things as it is easier and faster to change some existing tools. Killing an animal for a meal or searching for edible berries were quite time-consuming processes that transformed into buying convenience food and cooking it with the help of a microwave oven within seconds.
Going to the nearest fast food restaurant is even a less time-consuming process. Of course, instead of hunting and gathering, people have highly-developed industries that make human life more comfortable. This comfort is associated with the social construction of technology. People shape the way technology develops. They have not tried to live without food but created numerous ways to meet this basic need.
Kelly (2010) explores the nature of technology. It is possible to note that the author’s ideas are quite similar to the views of Shapin (2007). Both researchers argue that technology is shaped by people’s needs and desires. The two authors also agree that technology develops in ways that can be hardly predicted. However, Kelly (2010) has quite a specific view on technology and its nature.
Shapin (2007) focuses on the way technology evolves without trying to explain its nature in detail. More so, the author notes that it can hardly be perceived. At the same time, Kelly (2010) coins a term Technium, that unveils the author’s view on technology. Kelly (2010) argues that technology is not confined to innovations in things, but it includes such spheres as art, philosophy, and so on. Shapin shares this view and states that technology is not just things but ideas and intentions.
However, Kelly (2010) stresses that the technological world develops by certain rules that are similar to the ones applied in nature. The author almost assigns the existence of consciousness in technology assuming that it has its needs, which drives its development. This is the part where the views of the authors differ. Shapin (2007) believes that technology is shaped by people’s needs, not their desires.
I would agree with Shapin (2007) as I also believe that technology and innovation serve people’s needs. Humans are the drivers of technology, not vice versa. At the same time, I agree with both authors who claim that technology can be regarded as a bulk of tools used for people’s needs.
Kelly, K. (2010). What technology wants. New York, NY: Penguin.
Shapin, S. (2007). What else is new? The New Yorker. Web.