Monday, 12 January 2009

TECHNOLOGY MYTHS DEBUNKED

By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

A press release lands in the STEPS Centre's in-box announcing: "It’s myth busting time. The myth that lightly regulated global finance capital can generate unending profits and prosperity is well and truly busted by the credit crunch." Well, we can't argue there. But the release is actually about a new book concerned with busting myths of the technological, rather than financial, kind.

The Myths of Technology: Inequality and Innovation, edited by Judith Burnett, Peter Senker and Kathy Walker and published this week discusses whether "technologies are the rational, tangible, scientific forward-looking neutral objects they are so often perceived to be." The blurb goes on: "Technology promises to create an educated, humane and equal world. Although technologies afford us significant and empowering advances, they remain largely cloaked in mystery. And they promise more than they can deliver."

It looks like a promising read, according to the reviewers.Professor Stuart Macdonald of Sheffield University, said: "This is a book to shock devotees of technological progress, a book to depress those in government and industry who have worked so hard to promote a constructive view of technology, a book to infuriate those who police academic thinking. The book should be burnt."

Professor Shapira of Manchester University said of the book: "The editors Judith Burnett, Peter Senker and Kathy Walker have fashioned a distinctive volume that will engage you to think more deeply about the social consequences of new technologies and why new technologies often fall short in meeting expectations."

And in his Forward, Professor Wiebe Bijker of Maastricht University, said: “This volume is very welcome – for scholarly and for political engagement with technologies, innovations and their democratic governance."

For those who fancy a closer look, The Myths of Technology is published by Peter Lang at £15.90. It is in the Digital Formations series ISBN 978-1-4331-0128-1. More details on www.peterlang.com

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