top of page
  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

The Wormhole in Our Pockets: Technological Determinism #edcmooc


I loved the  first week resources in #edcmooc. Like most coursemates, I was impressed by the poignancy and Indonesian shadow puppet aesthetics of Bendito Machine 3 …but did anyone think of Hieronymous Bosch when the “computer” character emerged? This is what I’m talking about:


“Inbox” reminded me of this charming love story, “Post-It Love”  (also wordless and using Post-its, but devoid of technology except for the fact that the entire project is an exquisite example of stop-motion filmmaking:

That got me thinking of Amber Case’s amazing TED talk: “We Are All Cyborgs Now”

some quotes:

The other thing that happens is that you have a second self. Whether you like it or not, you’re starting to show up online, and people are interacting with your second self when you’re not there. And so you have to be careful about leaving your front lawn open, which is basically your Facebook wall, so that people don’t write on it in the middle of the night —because it’s very much the equivalent. And suddenly we have to start to maintain our second self. You have to present yourself in digital life in a similar way that you would in your analog life.


” technology doesn’t just get adoptedbecause it works. It gets adopted because people use it and it’s made for humans. So I started studying anthropology. And when I was writing my thesis on cell phones, I realized that everyone was carrying around wormholes in their pockets. They weren’t physically transporting themselves; they were mentally transporting themselves.

…which leads us to…

 so what happens is, when we bring all that into the social space, we end up checking our phones all the time. So we have this thing called ambient intimacy.

“Ambient Intimacy”. I am intrigued by that.

So does she believe in technological determinism? Well, yes and no.

” This is the first time in the entire history of humanity that we’ve connected in this way. And it’s not that machines are taking over. It’s that they’re helping us to be more human, helping us to connect with each other.

The most successful technology gets out of the way and helps us live our lives. And really,it ends up being more human than technology, because we’re co-creating each other all the time.

Personally, I am enamoured by pretty much anything Marshall McLuhan.

(sorry, but you really do have to click on the 240 p as it indicates)

One of my favorite pieces (also shared on G+) is his Playboy Magazine Interview from 1969

some of my favorite excerpts:

” As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible.”

“…a realization that technology is an extension of our own bodies.”

“And a vital point I must stress again is that societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media with which men communicate than by the content of the communication”

What about education?

“Because education, which should be helping youth to understand and adapt to their revolutionary new environments, is instead being used merely as an instrument of cultural aggression, imposing upon retribalized youth the obsolescent visual values of the dying literate age. Our entire educational system is reactionary, oriented to past values and past technologies, and will likely continue so until the old generation relinquishes power”

“…there is simply too much to learn by the traditional analytic methods; this is an age of information overload”

“…totally retribalized world of depth involvements. Through radio, TV and the computer, we are already entering a global theater in which the entire world is a Happening”

“The day of the individualist, of privacy, of fragmented or “applied” knowledge, of “points of view” and specialist goals is being replaced by the over-all awareness of a mosaic world in which space and time are overcome by television, jets and computers — a simultaneous, “all-at-once” world in which everything resonates with everything else”

“Literate man is alienated, impoverished man; retribalized man can lead a far richer and more fulfilling life — not the life of a mindless drone but of the participant in a seamless web of interdependence and harmony…

…the electric media bring man together in a tribal village that is a rich and creative mix, where there is actually more room for creative diversity than within the homogenized mass urban society of Western man”

I love that- “the world is a Happening”- very Warhol Factory-esque

and my favorite (reference to the Gutenberg Parenthesis Theory):

“The use of the electronic media constitutes a break boundary between fragmented Gutenberg man and integral man, just as phonetic literacy was a break boundary between oral-tribal man and visual man”

 *I have a Prezi from a presentation I did regarding the Gutenberg Parenthesis but for some reason some of the media isn’t loading – I will hyperlink at a later date

Other related TED talks I shared on G+

The following talks are not wholly “utopian” or “dystopian”, but offer a variety of perspectives on what could be called


What Does Technology Want? (Kevin Kelly,  “How Technology Evolves”)

Together Alone (Sherry Turkle, “Connected, but Alone?”)

The Internet’s Magna Carta Moment (Rebecca MacKinnon, “Let’s Take Back the Internet”)

Why I Want to be a Cyborg (Neil Harbisson, “I Listen to Color”)


To what extent do our machines/ does technology “make use more human”? To what extent does it de-humanize us? Or are we somewhere in between? Is “human” becoming a different thing altogether?

#AmberCase #SherryTurkle #technologicaldeterminism #BenditoMachine #Inbox #cyborgs #etmooc #edcmooc #TED #dystopia #education #McLuhan #ambientintimacy #utopia #PostIt

4 views0 comments
bottom of page