The Real World of Technology
By Ursula Franklin
Ursula Franklin: experimental physicist, humanitarian, Quaker, talented educator and vital thinker. She brings a deeply humanistic approach to technology, focusing on systems and relationships, and all the ambiguity and complexity this entails.
This expanded version of Franklin’s 1989 CBC Massey Lectures provides astute criticism of technology and how we engage it. I’ve heard great things about this book from all corners of the internet and beyond — hers seems to be a voice that deserves to be amplified.
With no outline or chapter titles, the book’s a bit hard to gloss, but I did manage to exfiltrate quite a range of topics from first flip-through: social impact, “organization of work and people”, systems and models, divisions of labor, prescriptive technologies, scale, shared experience, shifts of power and control, tools, infrastructure, webs of interactions, reciprocity, planning, nature, logic of social interactions, history and change, ethics of technology, synchronicity, the global “bitsphere”, education, work, and governance.
So, yeah, a bit of everything!
A core theme of Franklin’s is looking at technology not just as an emergent phenomenon, but as a practice — one that we can participate in and actively shape. This book covers an amazing array of interconnected areas, and seems to have a lot to contribute to ongoing conversations about the possibilities and perils of how technology is shaping the world.