Ethan Young: Manifesto

We, as creators and consumers of digital technologies, should continue to allow these technologies to enhance the human experience (within reason).

Digital technologies are central to our generation’s lifestyle. We rely on digital technologies heavily, and on a daily basis. As we continue to invent new digital technologies, or refine existing technologies, we should allow them to do what we intend them to do. We create technology to make our tasks, jobs, and lives easier in some way. At its root, that idea is a good idea. So, when we create and refine digital technologies, it is to enhance some aspect of our lives, to give us opportunities and ideas (Kelly, 4). If we as a society objectively consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of allowing a digital technology to change or enhance our lives, and decide that the good outweighs the bad, we should allow it to do so. If human society will consider (or continue to consider) digital technologies in this way, humans may be able to live longer, more fulfilling lives. This statement, if applied correctly, may benefit a broader manifesto. Digital technologies a very large part of modern society, and if we can take this statement and fit it into a larger picture, it may work to create a greater good, because the idea behind this statement allows society to prosper.

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Penguin Books, 2010. Print.

If, in allowing digital technologies to enhance the human experience, it becomes necessary to change the way we think about or experience life, we ought to be careful about whether or not we allow the technology to do so.

As digital technologies present us with the option to change the way we think or experience life, we have to decide whether or not we are going to adopt the technology. We should question whether the change is good or bad. This is pretty ambiguous, because “good” and “bad” are viewed very differently by many different people, but it is still a very necessary issue to resolve. Once the issue has been decided upon, then we can move forward with either adopting the change that the technology brings, or rejecting the technology’s changes. What we as a society don’t (or shouldn't) want to happen is having a technology that permanently changes us as humans in a decidedly negative way, and in a way that is hard to reverse. We also don’t want a positive adjustment in human experience to get passed over because we are too scared of change. This statement can be applied to many areas of life, because the idea that we as human beings need to act with discretion in regards to our well-being is crucial to our continued survival (for example, discerning whether or not certain countries should have nuclear capabilities is a very important issue in today’s world).

Graham, Allison T. “North Korea’s Lesson: Nukes for Sale.” The New York Times. 12 February 2013. Web. 16 April 2013.

When these potential changes in the human experience do arise, we should consider them as objectively as we can, and allow for the possibility that these changes may be either positive or negative, or both.

Changes in the human experience have always occurred. All of the changes that we have accepted in the past have made us into what we are today. There is a lot of fear in modern society when it comes to change, especially since the explosion of digital technologies. These technologies bring change with them. It is inevitable, given their nature, but we seem to be more aware of that fact now. If we are following the first two statements in this manifesto correctly, then we should be looking at the potential changes as objectively as we can, weighing the positive and the negative, and considering the possibility that a change might be all positive, all negative, or contain both positive and negative elements. The key word in this statement is objectivity. If people look at a potential change in human experience or thought as always being bad, because we would somehow lose our humanity, then they aren't doing society any good. However, the opposite is also true. If we charge blindly forward, always putting the technology ahead of human safety and well-being, or if we completely ignore what it is to be human, then we are going to irreparably damage ourselves. Kevin Kelly’s definition of the Proactionary Principle is important to consider in these situations. If we take the Principle too far, placing value on risk and reward above all else, we are definitely doing it wrong.

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Penguin Books, 2010. Print.

If a change is decidedly positive and is beginning to be accepted by individuals, these individuals should work together to allow the technology and the new experience to benefit society.

Once we decide to allow a specific digital technology to change an aspect of the human experience (assuming that the above statements were heeded correctly, and the change is deemed to benefit humans), the individuals pioneering the change (the initial group of users) should seek each other out. We need to work together to get the maximum benefit out of the technology and the human experience. If these technologies are meant to better society as a group, what better way to kick start the process than by working as a group with the same goal? Groups of users can explore different areas, compare ideas, and troubleshoot as individuals, and then collaborate to compare the information and experiences that they have in order to refine the technology or the human experience in a way that creates the greatest benefit for society. A great example of this principle being applied in real life is the way that GoPro camera users and the YouTube community joined to create a better experience for producers and viewers of content. GoPro (the company) has also enjoyed virtually free, ultra-effective advertising as a result of this pairing.

Bartlett, Liam. “The GoPro Revolution.” 60minutes. November 9, 2012. Web. 16 April, 2013.

If society benefits from this technology/experience pairing, we as a society should work to build upon that foundation, to further enhance the technology and the human experience.

If a particular digital technology and the change that comes along with it is especially beneficial to society, then we as a society should pursue that pairing. It seems like so many revolutionary changes are happening because of digital technologies, and they are being overlooked or cast by the wayside, when they have so much more potential. If we see a change that we recognize as revolutionary, and it meets the criteria listed in the first four of these statements, and it has benefited society, society should work to maintain it, or even to refine it so that it benefits us even more. It is the same idea that is central to statement number four, except that instead of individuals forming groups to affect this change, now society as a group is doing it. The GoPro camera revolution is a great example of this. Though I don’t think that the camera’s potential (as the technology exists now) has been fully reached, I believe that it has been at least partially realized. Mainstream media has broadcast this technology, and everyone from the media to YouTube to friends and family are telling us to go out and record from our point of view, and to share it with each other. The movement is huge, and society is endorsing it (some people now make an extremely good living by strapping on a GoPro and recording what they do).

Young, Ethan. “How the Action Camera has Changed Our Point of View.” Living Through Technology. 19 March, 2013. Web. 16 April, 2013.

Bartlett, Liam. “The GoPro Revolution.” 60minutes. November 9, 2012. Web. 16 April, 2013.

We as individuals in the “Living Through Technology” classroom ought to be actively looking for opportunities to pair digital technologies and the human experience in a positive way.

As a class, we have a unique advantage in today’s world. This class places a heavy focus on digital technologies and the moral problems that come with them. We have tackled many of these problems, and worked through them as a group, in class discussions, online forums, and research presentations. We have gained knowledge in this way, a knowledge that much of the world lacks, but that it needs, because of the explosion of digital technologies. Given our newly acquired knowledge, we are in the unique position of being informed in the area of digital technologies and their potential effects. If we use our knowledge and discretion to seek out digital technologies that change the human experience in a positive way, and nurture those technologies, and advance them in the eyes of society, we can make changes for the better.

Collier, Jim. Living Through Technology. n.d. Web. 16 April 2013.