In chapter three of The Shallows, Nicholas Carr states that our technology falls into four categories. There’s the plow and the fighter jet which extends our physical strength; the microscope and amplifier which the rang or sensitivity of our senses; reservoirs and genetically modified plants reshape nature to better suit us; and clocks and maps which extend our mental abilities.
While we use technologies like the refrigerator and the light bulb everyday, Carr argues that intellectual technologies like your smart phone or laptop are the most important to us because it’s through these tools that we express ourselves. On pg.45 Carr writes, “the tools we use to write, read, and otherwise manipulate information work on our minds even as our minds work on them.” How have your electronic tools affected your behavior?
There are two schools of thought in the debate about how technology has helped create civilization. Technological determinist believe that technological progress is an autonomous force outside of mankind’s control and is the primary factor influencing history (p.46). Instrumentalist believe that tools are neutral and do only what the user tells it to.
I disagree with Carr when he says we don’t choose to use certain technologies. I’m not required to have a smartphone, my flip phone serves its purpose. I could still use a film based camera if I could find a place to develop it, and vinyl records are making a come back because of their sound quality.