In the Hands of the Geeks: The Impact of Technologies on Social Aspects of Millenium Life

By Silas, Mary | West Virginia University Philological Papers, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

In the Hands of the Geeks: The Impact of Technologies on Social Aspects of Millenium Life


Silas, Mary, West Virginia University Philological Papers


A symbiosis exists. Technology impacts on social aspects and social aspects impact on technology. Imagination came first. Imagination is intellectual technology. Imagination manned the cosmos and scientific developments followed.

Technology depends on the fanciful ideas of artists, of often weird Kafka-like, Dali-like artists. Throughout history, throughout religion, throughout literature, imagination and science have been linked. A ladder reaches heaven in Genesis. Hindu artwork depicts a rocket to the moon. Christian articles of faith involve bodily ascension to heaven. Jules Verne journeyed to the bottom of the sea and into space. Dick Tracy had a two-way wrist radio. In George Orwell's 1984, the surveillance that followed the characters is not only feasible today but in effect, in every corner store, at every bank machine. The Stealth fighter is remarkably reminiscent of Star Wars aircraft.

These imaginary technologies were created by visionaries, with or without divine intervention or input, by artists, by creative artists, working out in their imaginations things, in those times, impossible in reality; they wrote the most wonderful scientific fairy tales and the artists had a wonderful time. Yet the magic was magic only until science explained it. Things that seemed a really good story even fifty years ago are no longer fiction. Disasters that seemed MGM and that are difficult to attribute even today to trick photography are no longer fiction.

Where the imagination can journey, intellectual development can follow scientifically and technologically. Imagination, research, and development are all mental activities and the human brain is a tremendous thing.

Technology is electronic magic: magic made real by application of the laws of physics, and the wilder the dream, the better the technology that follows; knowledge is cumulative: one thing leads to another. Possibly the most valuable words in the language are, "Listen, I've got an idea."

One of the effects of technology is the fact that it has shrunk the world; thus popular culture, pop culture is worldwide; elements of popular culture flow in all directions from country to country. Despite the global trend away from massification and despite the emergence of small, independent states with individual identities, technology is global, and the influence is global. These global links ensure that ideas, thoughts, values, and products are available to all and reach all, and spark the imaginations of all.

Ideas are cumulative: one person has an idea and relates the idea to another who has a responding idea, and the originator, hearing the second idea, gets a third, and so on. A bizarre idea springing from the mind of an original-thinking teenager in Malta is put into a chat room and picked up by an interested schoolteacher in Cleveland, who then has another idea and sends it over the lines to hackers clubs in Oslo, where the idea is converted into a better firewall. A chain of dreamers, a chain of geeks exists and it results in better security.

With this global potential, this global contact with all its immense possibilities, from the imagination of the controller comes a global control, not only in subject matter but in focus; the screen focus decides what we will see and what we will concentrate on seeing, and audio focus decides what we will concentrate on hearing.

Our world is not without a sense of irony. There is a paradox: we are living in a world based on imagination, but it is of somebody else's imagination.

Modern technologies have changed our lifestyles; they have created new professions; they have created new areas of work. They have created new ways of spending our academic time and leisure time; they teach us the newest ways of educating ourselves and entertaining ourselves, and there is no escaping technology.

Virtual reality is a branch of computer technology used to simulate real worlds, allowing objects inside these virtual worlds to interact with each other. …

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