Priorities II.

How do you get children to school in a rural, mountainous region when they live a good way away and you don’t want them to arrive at school already tired out? The answer was that you get hold of some donkeys. The problem is that it is difficult to buy donkeys under the United Nations procurement guidelines. These guidelines require performance specifications, tendering and suchlike. The solution is to hire the donkeys as consultants, which is fine under the UN rules. Donkeys also have one great advantage compared to human consultants – they do not write reports.

From: Daniel, John. “Technology is the Answer: What was the Question?” McGill University. Montreal. 22 Sept. 2002. Public Lecture.


When I asked about the possible use of alternative learning technologies one woman suggested that her most pressing need was not for learning technologies but for other technologies such as washing machines, cookers and vacuum cleaners, which would help shorten the time she spent on housework and increase the time she needed for studying.

Edith Mhehe discussing her research on female students at the Open University of Tanzania, qtd. in: Daniel, John. “Technology is the Answer: What was the Question?” McGill University. Montreal. 22 Sept. 2002. Public Lecture.

Inevitable evolution.

For such techno-utopians, refusing to adopt the latest media technology will lead societies to social and economic backwardness […]. In fact, they generally do not see refusal as a choice. In the case of digitization, Negroponte (1995) argues, “[t]he change from atoms to bits is irrevocable and unstoppable” (p. 4). We must simply accept and adapt to the inevitable social transformations wrought by media technologies such as the Internet, transformations that are foretold and subsequently helped along by Net-guru prophecies. Such rhetoric also indicates the operation of a naturalistic discourse, where media technology is seen as part of an evolutionary process free from political control. This is clearly found in Gates’ (1999) biological model of digital capitalism. Moore’s law, which states that the number of components on a microchip doubles every eighteen months (originally a year), is also often referred to as though it were natural.

From: Dahlberg, Lincoln. “Internet Research Tracings: Towards Non-Reductionist Methodology.” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 9.3 (2004) n. pag. Web. 3 Feb. 2013.


Technological animism was the basis for a philosophy called ‘resistentialism’. Its leading figure, Pierre-Marie Ventre, declared that ‘Les choses sont contre nous‘: Things are against us. […]

Resistentialism was actually dreamt up by the humourist Paul Jennings in 1948, but it is one of those schools of thought which ought to exist, and which in our most technologically frustrating moments we devoutly believe to be true.

From: Chandler, Daniel. “Technological or Media Determinism.” The Media and Communications Studies Site. Web. 3 Feb. 2013.