It’s nothing to deny that dominant culture exists in this current society, which, to put it simply, is white male. Though no one would admit or declare it openly any more, every knows the white privilege exists and male domination is a fact.
Then what about in the virtual world created by technology and flourished more and more, esp. after this CoVid-19 forced everyone into this netizenship.
Does dominant technology culture exist in virtual world, too? The answer is a definite YES, and it is still white male.
A few years ago, there was a report on New York Post about Chinese users complained about iPhone X when its face recognition function didn’t work on distinguishing their faces from the faces of their children or even their friends or colleagues. (“Chinese users claim iPhone X face recognition can’t tell them apart“, by Guy Birchall, Tom Michael on December 21, 2017, https://nypost.com/2017/12/21/chinese-users-claim-iphone-x-face-recognition-cant-tell-them-apart/)
Therefore, it helps us to understand Melvin Kranzberg’s six laws of technology better, esp. No. 4, 5 and 6.
- Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.
- Invention is the mother of necessity
- Technology comes in packages, big and small.
- Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.
- All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.
- Technology is a very human activity – and so is the history of technology.
(Dr. Melvin Kranzberg was a professor of the history of technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the founding editor of Technology and Culture. In 1985, he delivered the presidential address at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology in which he explained what had already come to be known as Kranzberg’s Laws — “a series of truisms,” according to Kranzberg, “deriving from a longtime immersion in the study of the development of technology and its interactions with sociocultural change.” To explain each of them a little further more:
- First Law: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.”
- Second Law: Invention is the mother of necessity. “Every technical innovation seems to require additional technical advances in order to make it fully effective.”
- Third Law: Technology comes in packages, big and small. “The fact is that today’s complex mechanisms usually involve several processes and components.”
- Fourth Law: Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions. “… many complicated sociocultural factors, especially human elements, are involved, even in what might seem to be ‘purely technical’ decisions.” “Technologically ‘sweet’ solutions do not always triumph over political and social forces.”
- Fifth Law: All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant. “Although historians might write loftily of the importance of historical understanding by civilized people and citizens, many of today’s students simply do not see the relevance of history to the present or to their future. I suggest that this is because most history, as it is currently taught, ignores the technological element.”
- Sixth Law: Technology is a very human activity-and so is the history of technology. “Behind every machine, I see a face–indeed, many faces: the engineer, the worker, the businessman or businesswoman, and, sometimes, the general and admiral. Furthermore, the function of the technology is its use by human beings–and sometimes, alas, its abuse and misuse.”)
Therefore, who are behind the technology in its designing process, who the subjects the researches/inventions have been sampling from, who are those who technology is aimed at, who are the people benefiting from it, etc., etc., all these will show how the dominant tech culture is shaped.
Same with data justice, where the data come from also show the lack of justice. For example, from which group of people the data have been collected, or a census which people off book or illegal immigrants, or people who cannot afford postage, may fail to attend.
Even the education during CoVid-19 lacks equity because some students have no access to internet or computer for remote or online learning.
Yes, dominant culture exists in technology, in the same way as it does in society.