Question Forum 1

1. How would you describe the relationship between art and technology now and in the past? Do you have any ideas about what that relationship might be in the future? If so, please describe them.

2. What is the value of creativity? Would you say it’s more important to have natural resources or creative minds? Why?

3. What kind of harmful effects have you seen technology impress on your lifetime (if any)? How have these effects marked you and how do you think you differ from the previous generation?

4. Is it possible that the globalized, human-built world will actually bring diverse peoples together because of their now immediate proximity? That is, can globalization foster global peace and understanding?

A quick note: Please indicate the page numbers of the reading that gives rise to the question or to your response. Thanks.

Question 1

Based on the reading for this week, I think that the relationship between art and technology in the past was that technology inspired the type of art produced. Artists incorporated the new technological advances into their artwork or architectural designs. As the technological changed, specifically the architects changed their designs to keep up. Artists seemed to create their works to show the new technology…one artist painted 'machine iconography.'

Today I think the relationship with technology and art is more like technology allows art to be produced in different forms. Instead of being inspired by technology, artists use it as a means to create different forms of art…like graphics or online comics. Things that would not be possible without Photoshop or the Internet. Images can now be manipulated (sometimes in a bad way) to be brighter, or highlight different colors or get rid of that ugly red eye.

As for the future relationship of art and technology, I can't even begin to guess. I am not an artistic person so I am not closely tied to that community. I would assume based on today's relationship, that technology will continue to allow artists to push the boundaries and continue to find new and different ways to produce art.

Question 3

I think that technology has had a few harmful effects on my lifetime.

Computers and the Internet far limit my time outside, experiencing nature. I'm always surprised at the beauty of nature when I walk outside, because I am so disconnected from it. As a kid, I was always outside—running around, playing with friends or getting exercise. I hate that I spend so much time inside using electronics, like my computer or TV.

Technology has also made me more distracted. There are too many other things I can be doing on my computer, besides just my assignment or checking my email. Facebook is a constant distraction. I think this whole generation is a little less focused on classes, homework and work just because the Internet allows for so much distracting browsing.

I also think technology has made relationships less real and more superficial. Friendship is now defined by Facebook and writing on walls or through text messages. I only talk to my parents on the phone because texting has spoiled me and created a distaste for talking on the phone.

I think the older generation (like my parents) still have an appreciation for the natural world that this generation (or some of us) lack. They spend less of their free time watching TV or playing on a computer. My mom uses her computer for email and for work. Occasionally for looking up something on the Internet.

I can't really speak to the focus of the older generation but I can bet that they paid a lot more attention in school because they weren't able to be on their computer during classes.

I also think they still rely on personal contact and conversations more then we do. I know that I still have really in depth conversations with friends, but I'm sure not everyone in my generation does. My mom uses texting purely to text me and my brother. If she wants to talk to another friend, one her age, they set up a lunch date or have a phone call. My mom does rely on email more to get in touch with family and friends but I don't. I Facebook message or text my friends.

I am sure that other generations have had their issues with technology as well, but I think overall my generation relies on it far too much for even the simplest things.

MC Hawes

Question 1

Art and technology go hand in hand. Artists use any and every resource available to them to create their artwork, while technology provides new resources and methods for creating art. As an example, when cameras were invented, so was the art of photography. This new technology opened up a whole new method for artists to express themselves. The same situation applies to computers. With the invention of computers came the ability for artists to create using a number of new tools. These tools allow artists to manipulate photographs, paint using a mouse instead of a brush, or even create 3D animations. Technology provides new methods of expression for artists, and the possibilities are endless.

As mentioned in chapter 5, Hermann Muthesius thought, “the shapes of traditional handicraft…were not suited for efficient machine manufacture (113).” Machines used for mass production took away many of the traditionally creative aspects associated with hand crafted clothing or other hand crafted products. Because of this, the people who design products created by these machines are challenged to design creative and stylish products despite their limitations. Just because a machine is producing the product does not mean it can’t still be a work of art.

Even after the invention of these machines, many people disregarded them and continued to create these items in very traditionally artful and expressive ways. Just because the technology exists, does not mean that it must be used. New technology gives artists more choices for how to express themselves, but it doesn’t get rid of the more traditional mediums. Today, artists have more options than ever before.

Not only does technology provide more outlets for artistic expression, it also influences the type of artwork produced. As mentioned in the book, artists use their art to explore the relationship between technology and nature, religion, and culture. They incorporate technology into their artwork and show society how technology has influenced our lives for better or worse.

Although I do not know what new types of technology will be invented in the future, I assume, based on the past, that new technology will only add more creative outlets for artists.

Sarah Joseph

Question 3

I’m not sure technology has directly harmed anyone, but it has definitely changed the way we see relationships and how we relate to one another. Technology operates under the illusion that it brings people closer together, but I don’t think it does. Our technologies may allow easier access to people, but our cell phone, social media, and just about every other gadget eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction.
I believe that face-to-face interaction is essential to maintaining a relationship with someone. If you never see them, how can you see their real reactions, facial expressions, or any nonverbal communication? So much of communication is derived from nonverbal expressions and gestures that, to me, it’s next to impossible to know what someone is trying to say and what reaction they’re looking for without seeing their face. Granted, webcams do propose a solution to this issue through technology. However, face-to-face conversations mediated through technology have a downside in the media through which they’re accomplished offers many other distractions. This complicates an interaction that’s supposed to be one-on-one, and makes it that much more difficult to really connect with a person.
Think about all the distractions technology presents. Even when we’re with the friends or family we’re trying to stay connected with, we have our cell phones right beside our dinner plates. I went out to dinner with my family a few weeks ago and was surprised when I saw almost everyone had their cell phones within arms length. Sure, there were conversations, but it was interrupted by the constant need for technology.
I think generational differences in regards to technology come down to who grew up with what technology. If my parents had grown up with the same technologies, then they too would face the same issues with technology that my generation faces. Even though my parents didn’t grow up with the same technologies, they’re willing to sit down and let me show them how to use the technologies they want to use. My generation is different from my parent’s generation. I think the technologies my generation has grown accustomed to have definitely made an impact on the way we think and how we see the world around us.
So my question is, are we really staying connected through technology or are we missing out on those connections because of the very gadgets that promised us connection in the first place?

Katelyn McDaniel

Question 2

This question really intrigued me and encouraged me to look back over the readings. Clearly creativity has added to our technology On page 36 of Human Built World, we see Hughes discussing the creativity of engineers, especially those of the Industrial Revolution, calling them the, "creative cultural heroes of western civilization." Through this creativity, these engineers were able to come up with designs people had only written about in fiction novels. They also changed the way people thought, behaved and viewed the world. With trains and planes people could get from one side of the country to another in merely a few days versus weeks or months. With mass manufacturing through assembly lines, customers could receive a product quicker and cheaper than ever before. We are constantly working through our creative minds to come up with more efficient ways to do and make things.

Unfortunately, this has also lead to the depletion of our natural resources. We constantly hear about statistics saying in fifty years if we stay at this rate, we will have no more oil to derive from. Through all of this desire for change and progress, we have sort of put the concern about natural resources to the side, quick to say that the next generation will come up with a design to replace whatever we have destroyed. Trees have been cut down, oil has been tapped, animal habitats have been destroyed, all in the name of creativity and progress.

However, over the last twenty years, people have finally realized the importance of balance between these two. We are constantly coming up with environmently friendly ways to do things, even if we haven't gotten all of the kinks worked out. Electric cars, hybrid cars, both are on the market, and both bring about change that is environmentally friendly. We have started to replant trees that were destroyed through paper making, or housing developments. We are trying to use less chemicals and more natural substances than ever before. It is a slow process, but one that will both harbor the creative mind, as well as try and conserve, and even replace our natural resources. I don't think that you have to choose between creativity and natural resources in 2011. I think you choose to conserve natural resources, while allowing your creativity to shine.

Megan Forbes

Question 3

Most of my relationships with technology are neither entirely harmful nor entirely good. For instance, I use my laptop much more than I used my computer in high school, which becomes a problem when it’s a nice day out and I want to go outside, but also want to poke around online and talk with friends. I have tried using my computer outside a total of one time, and it was a resounding failure. The problem is that the days that make me want to sit outside and enjoy the world are typically sunny and my laptop’s screen is very hard to see in bright sunlight. Let me be clear: my “need” for a laptop doesn’t keep me from ever going out, it just means that occasionally I stay inside when I might have been outside otherwise. That said, when I’m outside I don’t have as many distractions keeping me from enjoying the experience. I can’t go out and then bury my head in a computer screen and ignore the world around me.

Facebook has also…changed my outlook on the world. My family jokes that Facebook allows friends to “passively stalk” one another, meaning that I can find out what’s going on in my friends’ lives without ever talking to them, just by looking at their profile status updates. Of course, I only know whatever information they decide to share, but I still know it. I usually notice this with old high school friends, people that I don’t have contact with any other way. A positive result of this is that my friends can share information with a lot of people simultaneously. The bad side is that it eliminates my need to ever talk with them. It creates a third category in my mind between “people I have no interest in keeping up with anymore” and “friends I speak with regularly.”

From what I’ve noticed, older generations are not quite as eager to use new technology. My parents and their friends don’t use texting as the first way to contact someone, but they do text. People older than my parents generally use technology even less frequently, with the notable exception of my grandmother. She loves her computer and cell phone, and uses them both to keep in contact. She emails her children almost every day and texts her grandchildren a few times a week.

Terri Munns

Question 2

I think that the value of creativity is to take the raw materials that natural resources provide in order to create something valuable to humanity. Because of this reciprocal relationship, I believe that it is important to have both natural resources and creativity. However, I believe that creativity is slightly more valuable than natural resources. Without creativity, humans would not know how to use these raw materials to their benefit. Hughes mentions the philosophy of the German economic historian Werner Sombart, who believed that technology gives humans the capability to go beyond their own natural limitations and even those of the environment (62). I agree with Sombart that technology (which involves creativity) enables humans to work within the constraints of the natural environment to provide solutions to problems. Hughes also writes that Sombart believed that the creativity of humans would result in automated machines that would replace the role of humans (63). I think that this process has gradually been taking place for quite some time. The self-checkout line at the grocery store is an example of machines performing tasks formerly carried out by workers. This feat is an example of the creative power of humans. Natural resources provide the tools for humans to create, but I believe that human creativity can also be used to preserve the natural environment. Hughes touches on this briefly when he writes about Lewis Mumford. Mumford believed technology, if used wisely, could improve the world. For example, thermal and water-powered plants could provide clean sources of power (59). I agree with Mumford and think that creative minds are needed to figure out how to use the natural resources wisely to ensure that we do not deplete them.

Question 4

The text seems to argue that the globalized world in which information can be exchanged instantaneously regardless of distance will allow people to “increase global harmony” (108). I agree that the Internet allows people to be able to network with people of diverse cultures, but I am less optimistic that this capability will dramatically change the world for the better. I think that it all depends on how people use this new tool. The Internet can be used to encourage understanding and peace, but it can also be used to bully people and spread messages of hate. For example, instances of cyber bullying crop up in the news repeatedly. I think that the Internet allows people who are open-minded to learn about other cultures much more easily than in the past, but I think that it also can just as easily be used for harm. I do not think it will drastically change the world for the better unless Internet users themselves initiate the positive change first.

Emily Whitesell

Question 3

As great as is technology, there are also harmful side effects and no one is immune. For me personally, I, as well as many college-aged students, have been a “beneficiary” of the negative attributes of modern-day technology, specifically Facebook. As hard as I try not to be pulled into the world of cyberspace, I can’t help myself. It’s like an addiction and once there, I can be glued to the pages of social networking for hours. The fact that I am not doing anything outwardly productive, such as exercising or studying, this aspect of Facebook has had a negative impact on my life. It is also not good for anyone, me included, to have a dependency on external things, such as constantly checking Facebook throughout one’s waking hours. Without this technology, I would have to make or take personal phone calls, write letters or send emails, which isn’t especially one of the easiest things for me to do. I would have to prioritize my social networking. Facebook allows for it “on the fly” with a quick comment. The ease of doing so becomes the distraction for me. The effect of social networking has interfered with my study time that I am sure my grades have suffered over the last four years as well.
As for my parents’ generation, when they had study time, they actually had “study time”. For instance, when my parents went to their rooms to study, they simply took their books, pen, paper and sometimes, but rarely, a radio with them. When I go to my room to study, I am equipped with my iPhone, laptop and iPod and all these offer so many distractions, mostly harmful and not so positive side effects for being a productive college student. Earlier generations also spent hours each day making personal contact and visiting with their neighbors and friends. On the other hand, my peers and I make contact by typing a few words on a friend’s Facebook wall. "A closed computer world is now the mechanistic and the natural environment is the organic" (152). Also, when the earlier generation woke up and crawled out of bed, there was no logging onto the computer to check emails or scrolling through the latest newsfeed on Facebook. The former generation would immediately start their day with reading a newspaper at the breakfast table or heading out for a morning jog.
I believe that Facebook is very beneficial for fostering and maintaining relationships. However, there are some harmful aspects to it. No matter how harmful Facebook is for me, I believe it is here to stay and I will be a part of that world for years to come. It is important for me to become more disciplined and focused with my use of it to take advantage of all the positive aspects of the technology.

Brittany Hansen

Question 4

I believe that the human-built, globalized world has the potential to bring diverse people together if the people of the world understand that it is only a tool that provides better opportunity for peace and understanding but in and of itself does not guarantee it.

With the advent of the internet, information has been, for the most part, freely accessible to people around the world. It offers anyone who wants it, the ability to learn about other cultures, learn about their history and receive current information about political, social and religious events happening today around the world. The first step in fostering peace and understanding is knowledge of another culture. With knowledge comes understanding and less fear and stereotyping. In the past, the opportunity to do this has been available if one had the time to spend at the library or subscribing to international papers and journals. Today with the global human-built world, the information is much more available to more people at a much lower cost.

I believe that the second phase of the globalized human-built world is even more important for fostering global peace and understanding. That phase is the growth of social networking. Whether it is Facebook or YouTube, the ability of the individual to interact with other individuals free of government filters is huge. One-on-one personal information about culture and events cuts through the bias of newspaper, magazine and television reporting. The manmade technology creates a penpal system on steroids. Individuals connected with others will have more trust in that person’s word because they have built a relationship.

As I mentioned, this human-built world is only a tool. It has a dark side too. Groups not looking to promote peace and understanding can also use it, those who have an agenda that they wish to pursue. Whether it is used for recruiting terrorists, sharing child pornography and prostitution to promoting hate against others, the human-built world is just that, human, and with it comes the good and the bad. The best aspect of the human-built world is that it allows access to all information. With some diligence, and not just accepting the first thing you read or the first opinion that you agree with, an individual can discover the truth about a situation. I believe in the end that if enough individuals can discover enough truths it will lead to global peace and understanding. The human-built world provides this framework for this to happen. It is just up to us to do it.

Brittany Hansen

Question 3

One harmful effect technology has had on my generation is the way in which technology has led to more and more impersonal interaction. People can have conversations via text messaging, instant messaging, and email, allowing them to never even see the person they are speaking to. This can lead people to say things they may not necessarily say in person, interpret responses differently than they were meant to be read, and ignore body language entirely. There is certainly less accountability when having conversations like these.

Another example of impersonal interaction is online dating websites. There is something to be said for meeting a person in public and building a relationship from that point, but when people meet online, an online profile may not necessarily be the best representation of the person. It is easy to mislead others or create alter-egos online because there is, again, very little accountability when presenting oneself through technology like this.

The more people we are connected to, the less we seem to know the people we supposedly are connected to. Does everyone really know each of the one thousand “friends” they have on Facebook? The generation before us was forced to speak to each other on the phone, meet people in public, and, generally, seems to have a very different relationship with the people they are connected to and interact with.

Jennifer Romeo

Question 3

When you reference “technology,” I focus on communication networks, rather than “technology” in nuclear weapons and spacecraft (90) that encompassed the military-industrial complex in the generation preceding. I believe Hughes considers both eras to use “systems approaches,” but whereas society then could definitively say there were harmful effects—“the Challenger spacecraft tragedy” being one (90)—for instant Internet access, the only true harm I can see originates from our dependency on the network.

I don’t worry too much about managerial organizations that “became the hallmarks during…the second industrial revolution” (101), because, at this point, hierarchy has practically shifted to our hands. Individuals have so much power on the Net that it’s a little frightening sometimes. Hughes mentions the “acne-faced, ponytailed young people who…carried the United States into the information age” (104), and it's true that we deal with the “information age,” and power that sits on our desks. The Supreme Court refuses to address issues such as privacy on the Net—it’s completely free go—which gives almost too much leeway, freedom. The Court tended to leave media alone for democracy, and now Internet compounds that freedom with instant widespread access.

That brings issues of dependency besides my own—if we place information into systems, what happens when someone hacks it? Or, someone may incite others worldwide to act outrageously or dangerously. Ideas spread so easily, and it’s not as tempered as media, especially when leaders won’t fully address it. Hughes claimed that “using computer telecommunications, [we] are the destroyers of bureaucratic government and industrial organizations” (104); should we consider that a harmful effect? Perhaps it’s better for more accessible information—safer? That’s looking at the big picture, though, and what those effects—harmful or otherwise—could contribute.

I’m inclined to view our age as beneficial, although I don’t know if we can restrict its unlimited potential. Hackers are hackers, but shouldn’t we look at “destroyers of bureaucratic government” as leveling playing fields? Perhaps we make too much of potential dangers, and don’t appreciate enough the concept of more individual power. The previous generation feared the industrial revolution due to its hierarchal nature. Planners created weapons, urban designs, etc. without much citizen-say. But today, maybe we don’t fear bureaucracy so much as they might begin to fear us.

Shannon Yen

1. To make your art known to the general public, artists must create a website showcasing their artistic mediums, or hire a web content developer/graphic designer to assemble the website for them. Without a personal website that informs users of your art, your “story,” and your purpose, the only people that will be aware of your art are the people in your town, your friends and family, and those associated with the former. The internet and technology in general have made it extremely easy to get art out there and known to the world, but if one wanted to keep their art underground and therefore, more personal and home-based, they would not rely on technology as much. In the past, art spread by word of mouth, by visiting galleries or planning individual encounters, basically on a more personal and low key spectrum.
Today, art can go on without technology, and vice verse. However, if one wanted their artwork to be known to the population, they need technology to advance. In the same vein, technology will continue its tirade of constant new developments, overwhelming the public with its insistence that they do, in fact, need newer and more advanced technology. To do this, technology as a social institution often relies on art to make it look more visually appealing to the public. A current Mac Book is designed cleverly and in keeping with modern fashion trends: sleek, silver, and stylish looking. While companies create and design their new technologically savvy products to be accurate and relevant to the public’s need, they also hire designers and artists to make the product look sexy and necessary to the public.

2. Value of creativity lies in the hands of those holding it. The concept of creativity applies to any product that was ever designed by a human. A human creates, with their hands, through a computer, or silently and with immobility. We produce and we design, and we use our creative intellect when we do this. However, creativity spans from visual art to music to creating the computer, the telephone, the car, all the way to creating the wheel and creating the next technological product that everyone wants to get their hands on. Creativity depends on what you create, and whether you value style, usefulness, trendiness, or to fit the public’s earthly needs.

One’s idea of what is important: natural resources or creative minds, depends on what one values. A painter who uses her creative mind to make only art for friends, family, and those close to her may value the creativity in herself and others. Oppositely, a corporate executive whose idea of creativity pertains to producing the next cutting edge product the public will pay money for may value creativity that results in money, consumers, and company development. The executive may find natural resources more important because they may treasure using one’s resources to create something for the mass public.

3. Technology harms us when humans with money, television, and media influence absorb the socialized urge to always have the latest product. Technology encourages the public to work with each other, to create and produce, and to learn and understand. However, the encouragement also pushes the newest and most expensive product. Those easily swayed by public mindset will go out and buy the newest smart phone because the previous one died so quickly, even though a year ago media institutions labeled that phone as the most cutting edge. One has to ask themselves, why do I feel the need to have the “next best thing” when my last “next best thing” sucked so much?

Our parents and those older than us vary all over the place. My parents buy into the having the “next best thing” idea, as do many of my friends parents. Working in a small natural foods store where we do everything manually and ringing up aged hippies who do not have e-mail addresses and solely use land lines exposes me to the generation who will not budge. They lived their teenage and college years with typewriters, home phones, and snail mail, and they are sticking with that comfort. I grew up in Arlington around the older generation that wanted the nicest laptop and the next new phone, and I did not understand why they so often felt the need for something new when just last year, they had bought something new.

4. It can, but it won't.

The human race is too wide, too diverse, and too ignorant (and I'm including myself in this blanket statement) to work together and to truly co-exist. I'm being realistic, not negative, because we all want different things and we all put our money into such different things that there is no way we can all agree on the same road to peace and understanding. The only action the human race can take is to work together peacefully but understand that we all pursue different objectives and leave each other to their own devices.

Rosalie Wind

Question 3

I think one of the most harmful, if not the most harmful, effect that technology has had is that our generation does not know how to communicate face to face. In this day and age everyone communicates through technology. If we want to see what our friends are doing one night we send them a text or post on their Facebook wall, if we need to contact a professor we don’t go to their office we send them an e-mail.

Not only do we communicate through technology, but it is also about getting our message across by saying as little as possible. So many forms of technology, like Twitter and text messaging, have a limit on how many characters we can use. This forces us to say what we need to say by using as few amount of words as possible. Because we communicate through technology, and say as little as possible through these technologies, our generation does not know how to communicate.

Though I try not to give into this effect, I have to admit that I do find myself communicating less and less with people face to face and more through technology. I think this has effected me because I rely too heavily on technology to communicate with people. If my internet goes down or my cell phone doesn’t have a signal, I panic as to how I am going to get in touch with people.

It is this type of panic that comes over our generation that I think differs us from the previous generation. When our parents wanted to get in contact with someone they would go over to their house or call them on the telephone. They personally interacted with people and talked to one another face to face. We do none of the above. Instead, we rely on technology to communicate with others through e-mails and texts. This involves zero personal contact and face to face interaction.

Laura Nolan

Question 3

I have owned a GPS longer than a car. While most of my destinations are within the town limits, and therefor not ever entered into the GPS, any trip I take that is longer than 20 minutes requires me to plug it in. While home, I would say that I visit the same mall (that is no more than 30 minutes away) four times a month. And after five years behind the wheel, I still can't get there without the calm voice and visual display directing me. My friend's new apartment only two towns over? Same problem. How about my trip up and down from school that I repeat four times a semester and that I know is not much more than Rt. 78 and 81? GPS required. Understand that when I was a child I would sit in the back seat of the family car as we took long road trips to various states on the east coast. And while I am sure a map was broken out before we began our journey, I was always really impressed of how during every trip my mother or father would never need to pull a map out in the passenger's seat. I added it to my long list of “things-adults-can-do” and wondered how I would be able to go map-less when I was old enough to drive. And now I see, I can't.

I believe that this total dependency is the most harmful effect by technology on my generation. I know not everyone shares my lack of driving directions, but if you note what happens to me when I am without my GPS, maybe I share something with my fellow student. If I am GPS-less on roads that are only slightly familiar I'll become stressed. I'll grind my teeth or hold the steering wheel harder than I need to. Or I'll become ultra-aware of my surroundings, so much so that I feel overwhelmed. And these are just the physical side-effects. Put simply, I feel lost even though I know right where I am. This, I believe, is shared amongst almost everyone in my age group that loses their phone. Even when we know that it is safe at a friend's house, we stress about it till our phones are back in our possession. We begin wanting to make unneeded calls, or imagine some tidal wave of texts that we are missing. But the feeling of being disconnected is the worst. We may begin to take in our surroundings, and while some are suddenly surprised by the amount of beauty that exists outside the monitors and screens that have become common in our lives, this same feeling can overwhelm us until we are in a mild state of panic. So what's the difference between my generation and those before me? I can no longer wake up and be ME. No, I need a phone to connect me, a Facebook page to hear about events, and a GPS to tell me where to go.

John Del Terzo