Oil and obsolescence.

For nearly one hundred years, industry had manufactured general goods by burning one pound of fossil fuel for every pound of plastic or metal product. A typical car, for example, required less fuel to build than it consumed during its lifetime on the road. The digital revolution has turned this equation upside down. A laptop requires 26.5 pounds of oil for every pound of computer. Given that most laptops don’t last more than three years, the majority of energy consumed in a computer takes place during its construction in Asian factories operating under slave-like conditions. Technological obsolescence may represent the greatest oil spill the world has ever seen.

From: Nikiforuk, Andrew. The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude. Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. EPUB file.


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.