Home > tasks > Task 12: tool or medium?

Task 12: tool or medium?

Before we really bring this course to an end, let’s try to focus once more on some philosophical questions digital technology and digitalisation poses.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would like to come back to the following questions: is digital technology a tool or medium in our activity systems? Or both? Are we talking about just instruments or a specific form of societal activity? Is digital technology neutral, autonomous or far more than mere tools and instruments? An interesting example of instrumentalist view on technology is given by Andrew Feenberg, which is: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. He explains that “supplying people with guns creates a social world quite different from world in which people are disarmed”. Can we apply similar thinking to the digital world? Information and communication technology has involved us in technology so intimately that our activities have begun to shape its development (Feenberg, 2003).

This “dilemma” has been mentioned rather explicitly or implicitly by many of you in different times and I think this is one of the important aspects we should spend some time on thinking about, especially if we talk about new media, interactive media, digitalisation, etc. and the influence of “leading medium” on society and the ways we perform our activities.

I encourage you to look at the following article, which raises the question in the light of activity theory whether we should talk about tools or medium.

Rückriem, G. (2003). Tool or medium? The meaning of information and telecommunication technology to human practice. A quest for systemic understanding of activity theory.

Think about the aforementioned questions, think about Rückriem’s analysis and share your thoughts about this on your Weblog.

The deadline for task 12 is: Thursday, December 9th, 24:00 (Estonian time).

 

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