The Luddite's Guide to Technology

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9781478184911: The Luddite's Guide to Technology
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Gentle Reader;

"For a list of ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three."

-Alice Kahn as quoted in reference to how IT can make phone jails.

The kind of concerns I have read in webpages by Humane Tech people echo some of the concerns voiced by a former advertising executive Jerry Mander in his 1973 "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television." It's an older style of book and it reads slowly, but a good kind of slow.

Not that 1974 technology is identical to today's technology. It isn't. But the difference is not a difference between things that are simply unrelated. It's more like a transition first to chewing coca leaves, then purer and purer technological cocaine, then when cocaine could not be refined any more, innovating beyond crack.

Someone who is concerned about crack would do well to heed the earlier history discussed in literature concerning cocaine and its threats, and perhaps look much further back to religious and philosophical giants who discuss appropriate consumption of a wine that was weaker than most beers are today.

With a light tweak, Plato's famous "Allegory of the Cave" has everything to say about people glued to screens. Perhaps Plato doesn't really need to be tweaked, but I try to make it clearer.

One friend said that a very wise history teacher had told him in school that you can tell the health of a civilization by how long its monumental architecture lasts. Surviving buildings from Egypt, Rome, and Greece were all from "the middle of their greatness," she said. In today's USA, the strongest buildings are colonial.


We are in the process of moving to more and more ephemeral wealth. It was a note of sarcasm, and possibly an urban legend, when a young couple decided to marry "for as long as we both shall love," and a professor gave the gift of paper plates.

However, much of our wealth is pushing the envelope on paper plates. Most of us own very little precious metal and most of us wouldn't know how to trade with it. Credit used to coexist with cash; now cash is dying. And if I may speak to an Amazon bookworm, bookworms are being deprived of books. We've moved to eBook readers, which are nice for a time but awfully fragile compared to a bookshelf. Now for $10 a month bookworms can enjoy unlimited reading without even owning books. Some Kindle book pages now list a sale price and a rental price.

Albert Einstein famously said that the greatest problems we face cannot be solved by the same order of thinking that created them. Humane Tech folks, I do not believe that a change of content is enough. We need something bigger. We need, for instance, virtue.

It has happened that I thought I was working on a real outlier of a topic, and years later I find out it has become mainstream: sometimes strangers start contacting me and telling me about it. It happened with my study of the holy kiss, the only act the Bible calls holy. My advisor met me with blunt ridicule. But when pages on my site started to come up in new searches a decade later, people started contacting me about whether I knew more than my extremely condensed homily, and a thesis that fell through was reborn "The Sign of the Grail."

Here I may be much less of a pioneer, but if I could offer a word of advice to those interested in Humane Tech: "Read the pages of history, and historic works critiquing and questioning technology, a legacy that has flourished in recent years but is as old as Plato's 'Phaedrus' in which an inventor is rightly told that writing would profoundly alter the nature of knowledge (anthropologists note that the opposite of 'literate' is not 'illiterate' but 'oral'). Read 'Four Arguments for the Elimination , 'Amusing Ourselves to Death', and 'The Plug-in Drug.' Read this humble offering, and if you can, connect it with virtue and ascesis and the Philokalia if you can."

Cordially, and With Love,
C.J.S. Hayward

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About the Author:

Christos Jonathan Seth Hayward is a sinner seeking the haven of monastic repentance.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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