Secondary Resources and Media

Reading Material



1. An Updated View of Cyborgs

Nestvold, R. and Lake, J. (2008). Cyborgs then and now. Retrieved from http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10394.

Nestvold and Lake (2008) revisit Haraway's cyborg myth over 20 years after the articles initial publication. The authors analyze the occurrence of the cyborg myth in popular media, including books and films. One of the most common genres that feature cyborgs is "cyberpunk". Some iconic cyberpunk media include the film Blade Runner and the television show Snow Crash. However, these examples show a less-than-liberating view of the cyborg than presented by Haraway. Cyborgs in more recent media often are made in the human image. The character Data in TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation not only appears to be human but makes a constant effort to attempt to "be" human.

Nestvold and Lake propose some interesting discussion questions in their article.

1. How does changing the physical body change identity?
2. To what extent is the mind independent of the body?

Using current books, film, and TV media, think of examples to support your position on these questions. Does your position support or refute Haraway's thoughts on cyborgs? Are her views perhaps out of date?


2. Cultural Foundations (Module 5)

Monahan, T. (2005). Technological cultures. In Globalization, technological change and public education (pp. 73-92). New York: Routledge.

You may recall this reading from Module 5 of our course. In the introductory remarks, Monahan indicates the male-work/female-work boundaries that are visible in many educational systems. Haraway's theme of feminization of work roles (the minimizing of responsibility) is highlighted early on and reinforced with information about the culture of IT specialists and teaching assistants.


3. Politics, Technology, and Values

Petrina, S. (2006). Advanced teaching methods for the technology classroom. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Technology implies or incorporates specific values. According to Petrina (2006), this should not come as much of a surprise to some who believe that Haraway's cyborg myth is true because of our ever closer relationship to our technology. Technology emphasizes our desire to obtain results faster, with more precision, efficiency, and control than ever before. This truly embodies the cyborg myth, particularly the Borg Collective myth represented in TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation. Petrina argues that capitalism is a driving force behind the intensification of technological values.

Petrina asks:

1. Can we expect students to adopt these values because of the pressures they face (peer pressure, economical and capitalist pressures, propaganda)?
2. Should values regarding technology be modelled so that others can learn and adopt them?

Petrina states that "dealing with values, whether directly or indirectly, requires that moral choices be made" (2006). Does this support or contradict the cyborg image, in your opinion? Do cyborgs have ethics and values?


4. 2020 Vision - on the politics of technology

Petrina, S. 2007. 2020 vision - on the politics of technology. In Barlex, D. Design and Technology for the next generation: a collection of provocative pieces, written by experts in their field, to stimulate reflection and curriculum innovation (pp.32-41) Cliffe Publishing. Retrieved from http://politicalfoundationsofedutech.pbworks.com/f/2020+Vision.pdf

Summary:

“Are you prepared to teach both the ‘applications’ and ‘implications’ of this technology?“
(Petrina, 2007, p.36)
One of the themes of Petrina’s article is to engage readers to think about how design and technology will shape our future. He argues that we must pay respect to these concepts as they influence our politics and policies and failure to do so could result in a fate similar to the one envisioned for 2020 at the beginning of the article.

Petrina’s 2020 Vision is a vivid description of a future existence when environments have been destroyed, economic collapse surrounds us, and the corporate leaders that have profited from the destruction have retreated behind gated communities. The reader is reminded that technology is not politically neutral (p.37) and that the artifacts we use can carry with them ingrained values that influence the user. From wearing clothing that supports inhumane labour conditions to using software that furthers monopolistic control, we are making decisions that have implications that reverberate further than we imagine. Corporate intrests, exploitation of labour and resources, and the rise of the Penguins (a metaphor for the Open Source movement) are discussed in this thought and action provoking article.

Petrina's 2020 Vision brings us back to issues of definition. If technologists define eLearning in the way that suits their particular interests at that particular time, the arrangement for socio-political movements vis-à-vis technology is extremely broad. If the concept of technological education is extended to the “full-range of human organizational processes, including the theoretical, social, and moral aspects,” (Dorbolo, 2004) the political implications of educational technology may run very deep indeed.

We stand at a precipice – the capacity for individuals to educate themselves and others through self-initiated means that bypass the political party lines of governments, corporations and other entities is as never before. The potential for “special interest” parties to transcend the particular characteristics that bind them together, rising above Haraway's 1985 critique of constricted Feminist groupings. Political education groups have a spectrum of existences, ranging from amorphous action organizations such as Anonymous, structured distribution bodies such as Wikileaks, and physical groupings such as the Occupy movement all stem from the collaboration, communication, and organization various forms of New Media have afforded.

Take the organization Wikileaks, for example. Certainly informational - but educational? It could be argued that the organization educates the general public about the goings-on of world governments, by generally anonymous whistle-blowers within those governments that see a need for public education. Wikileaks has been in the media a time and again, shod in positive and negative lights, with the dichotomy often stemming from the interests between public and government “need to know” knowledge economies. The same can be said of the Occupy movements now happening around the world. The political actions that fuel the events of such causes are tied in through the collection and distribution of materials to interested individuals – often “young” people (young as a proxy for “comfortable with New Media”) – so that these individuals may educate themselves, feel righteous, indignant or maligned, and rally support for further information collection, sharing, and widespread education. Often this happens via the new “word of mouth,” occurring on social networking platforms, where collaborative education can happen quickly, is widespread, and with a permanent record.

Has eLearning in this context afforded a new type of politics?

5. Cyborg 1.0


Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in the UK, was looking to become one with his computer. He actually had a silicon chip implanted in his left arm and allowed a computer to monitor him while he moved through the halls of the Department of Cybernetics. After the success of the first implant, a second implant will be attempted in hopes of of tapping into a range of senses. The possibilities, if this is successful, will benefit those with disabilities especially if another pathway can develop for senses to travel through the body.

This article and real life experiment is purely one scientists urge to explore. Kevin is excited at the prospects of an actual cyborg world and ranks himself along side the likes of such pioneers as Graham Bell, JFK or Charles Lindbergh.

The question from this experiment of implanting chips and linking with computers is, will we evolve into a cyborg community at some point?

Multimedia


What is your reaction to the term "Cyborg"? Do you fear this alteration of our previously organic selves? To explore an interpretation of Haraway's arguements, please view this Prezi titled Cyborg Tensions.

Use these videos to enhance your understanding of Haraway's article. For more, link directly to the YouTube videos; there are lots of interesting comments on both of these videos that may inspire you for the discussions later in the week.