Over-estimating the long term consequences of technology?

Naughton (2008) in his article considering technology, change and information sources, presents an argument that we over-estimate the short-term consequences whilst under-estimating the longer term consequences of new technology which is certainly compelling. However, not all technologies have longer-term consequences if considered individually, for example, the short-term impact of the audio cassette, although it could be viewed as a step on the technological path to more efficient data storage.

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Time to read? Technology and change

Melvin Kranzberg proposed six Laws of Technology, the first of which read as follows: ‘Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral’ (Kranzberg 1986b cited in Kranzberg 1991). Kranzberg expands on this to explain that technologies have ‘social and human consequences that go far beyond the immediate purposes of the technical devices themselves’ and that the effects depend on context and usage.

Naughton (2008) in his article ‘Thanks, Gutenberg – but we’re too pressed for time to read’ re-iterates Kranzberg’s (1991 p237) example of the influence of Gutenberg’s printing press on education and goes on to relate this to wider long-term change on reading due to increased access to information such as societal and cultural changes.

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