The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Category — Technology

Text & Technology


According to Chow, “The meaning of text involves writing and reading or, more appropriately, production and consumption. Production carries the intention of the author, while consumption is the process by which the reader makes meaning”.

A different approach to technology was explained by McLuhan as , “Technology is literally an extension of man, as the axe is an extension of the hand, the wheel of the foot. Most instruments are attempts to extend man’s physical capacity, a capacity shared with other animals. Communications technology, on the other hand, is an extension of thought, of consciousness, of man’s unique perceptual capacities. Thus communications media, broadly used to include all modes of symbolic representation, are literally extensions of mind”.


Chow, Kenny K. N. Operating Text and Transcending Machine: Toward an interdisciplinary Taxonomy of Media Works, LEONARDO, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 373-378, 2008.

Rosenthal, R. (ed), McLuhan Pro and Con, p 273, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968.

September 14, 2009   1 Comment

Technology as a System

seoul subway map, originally uploaded by oceandesetoiles.

Technology is an abstract concept that is multi-faceted and is therefore difficult to describe. Lorenzo Simpson (1995) defines technology as a “constellation of knowledge, processes, skills and products whose aim is to control and transform” (p. 16). To expand on this, Franklin (1999) believes that “technology is a system that goes beyond individual material components – it “involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and most of all, a mindset” (p. 3). According to Murphie and Potts (2003) technology also involves cultural values, ideologies, ethical concerns and is shaped by political and economic determinants (p. 4).

In thinking of technology as a system I chose an image of the Seoul subway map. The subway is a system that works to control the movement of people across the city. The map looks complex however it is based on an organized system that relies on procedures, processes, knowledge and symbols. Culturally, the subway system is woven into the everyday lives of many individuals. Ethically, public transport allows us to be more environmentally friendly. Economically, public transport is an affordable way to travel. Ultimately, the subway map illustrates how many small and simple systems (routes) can work together to form a more complex whole.


Franklin, U. M. (1999). The real world of technology. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, Inc.

Murphie, A., & Potts, J. (2003). Culture and technology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Simpson, L. (1995). Technology and the conversations of modernity. New York: Routledge.

September 14, 2009   1 Comment

What isn’t technology?

After reading and thinking (and dreaming!) about the definition of technology, I have come up with this:

Technology is tools, skills and techniques that we use to control and shape our environment.

Which leads me to two questions:

  1. Obviously writing is technology, but is language itself also  technology?
  2. Is there anything that isn’t technology?

That is as far as I can get on my own. I now look forward to entering into the debate.

 Dilip Verma

September 14, 2009   1 Comment

Technology – tool or lifestyle choice?

Technology is an indicator of intellectual progress.  When I think of technology, I picture grinding gears, the industrial revolution.  It never occurred to me before I read O’Donnell, that the simple invention of writing, the simplest of technologies,  was to cause an irreversible change in the history of our civilization.

I have used technology to make my classes more lively and relevant.  I’ve used it to teach useful work skills to my students.  But I have never, until now, considered the far reaching effects of technology.  It seems that whatever it touches cannot remain unchanged.

Our society pursues all things technological.  We’ve been convinced that our life cannot be fulfilled without increasingly sophisticated electronic objects.  Cell phones for children, Baby Einstein movies for mental stimulation of infants; the language of technology is so pervasive that we are being told to “upgrade” our lives.  Visit the following link to view’s take on this:

Next birthday, when I am asked how old I am, I’ll answer “I’m a version 5.2”.

September 14, 2009   No Comments

Weaving tales

Words fascinate me and I love discovering where they come from. I had a little problem with text, as I remember my grandfather telling me of how in Ireland people were renowned for weaving tales and so weaving and woven were common words for me related to oral storytelling. I had never related them with the written word before, however on reflection it does make sense. Technology was more of a challenge. I had never considered the anthropological definition of technology as “a body of knowledge”. It seems so all encompassing. This would mean therefore that any new knowledge we have could be considered as technology and from there I must accept that all technology will cause changes whether we make them consciously or not.  

Web Site

Definition of technology retrieved on the 14th of September 2009 from

September 14, 2009   No Comments



Contrary to popular belief, technology does not refer solely to computers. Technology is any instrument, machine, tool, weapon or appliance carrying out a purpose. The wheel, for example, was an ancient technology that revolutionized transport and changed the world. Technology is constantly improving and transforming into something more superior than their predecessors.

In many ways, science and technology are closely related and dependent upon each other. In the cartoon above, science appears to be “perfect”; however, the actual technology or creation did not measure up to the theory thus leaving a gap between the two fields.

Carmen Chan

September 14, 2009   No Comments

Technology comic relief

click to enlarge
Defining technology can be a daunting task and I thought that perhaps a cartoon might be my best bet.  Some of us think and use technology as a tool, some of us love new technology, and yet some of us are frusterated by technology.  Technology seems hard to define as it is ever evolving and its uses are ever changing. offers free daily cartoons and I believe that this cartoon will change daily for us and will perhaps open our minds to what is technology.

September 14, 2009   No Comments


I liked the way the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines technology: “…the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization” ( 

Ong describes technology as not to degrade human life but to enhance it (Ong, 2008, p. 82). Unfortunately, technology has encapsulated many parts of our society, and instead of enhancing it, has enslaved it. A quick look around your environment will reveal the extent that technology has encapsulated us. Drivers who are glued to their bluetooth, people who cannot live without their cell phones or blackberries tied to their hips, people interrupting your conversation with them to attend to their vibrating cell phones, etc. All signs of a society that is techno-savy.

 I chose the picture Slave to Technology as it reinforces the idea that these tools are not necessarily our slaves, but we are in some ways slaves to it.  It was a great picture depicting how our hands are tied to technology. However, after fighting for an hour trying to insert it into my post – I gave up and chose this picture instead. Ironic isn’t it? Technology got the best of me!

Finding the balance of integrating technology into our lifestyles is the key to our success.

September 13, 2009   1 Comment

Shedding light on the meaning of technology

Here is a brief video of someone’s description on technology that I found to be well put.

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September 13, 2009   2 Comments

My original take on technology

Technology defined

Technology – My first thought was the microchip and the profound impact it has had on our daily lives. I realize that one could make an argument that just about anything from our basic needs (i.e. from the cloths we wear, the food we to the things we use to shelter ourselves) to the non-essentials in life (i.e. various modes of transportation, different types of entertainment) could also be categorized as technology. Through the centuries there have been scores of ‘advances’ in just about every field mentionable. Medicine is perhaps the best example of this. Modern warfare is another one. I believe it’s called progress although one has to wonder about some of the choices we have made.

September 13, 2009   No Comments

Technology…simply put…

Posting by Caroline Faber

Defining technology is simplified in choosing to view technology as end-product of desire. 

“Technology is the extension of our human capabilty, in order to satisfy our needs or wants.”

Technology can be simple or complex; original or improved; frivilous, necessary or somewhere in-between.  The basis remains, however, that it is limited by current human capability and driven by current desire.

Taken from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) (2003)  Technology Education Guide (pp. 27).  Accessed at:

September 13, 2009   No Comments

A Matter of Metaphor

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My title, lifted from my favourite chapter (3) in Nardi and O’Day’s (1999) Information ecologies: Using technology with heart, describes my take (or my aspiration) on technology far better than I ever could.

“Our concepts about technology are often embodied in highly packed metaphors….Metaphors matter. People who see technology as a tool see themselves controlling it. People who see technology as a system see themselves caught up inside it. We see technology as part of an ecology, surrounded by a dense network of relationships in local environments” (pp. 25-7).

Nardi, B.A. & O’Day, V.L. (1999). Information ecologies: using technology with heart. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

The combination of Kurzweil and Nardi/O’Day is powerful, but manageable. Kurzweil’s TED talk highlights the embeddedness of technology in our everyday lives as well as its seemingly unstoppable, exponential growth. Nardi and O’Day act as society’s conscience sitting on our shoulders and prodding us to act wisely. The spotlight is not on technology, but on human activities that are served by technology.

The juxtaposition of the straightforward, engineer Kurzweil and the combination of HCI researcher Nardi and O’Day, the anthropologist provides a balanced view. A balanced view is often hard to find. One can move from the technophiles’ beliefs to the technophobes’ assertions, but there is often no middle ground in the debates and literature. As much as black and white would be easier, technology is gray and overlays everything.

Studying something as ubiquitous as technology is challenging, but becomes all the more necessary to unpack. These courses are an invaluable resource to this study; each of us brings his/her own “dense network of relationships” to shed different understandings on the term.

September 13, 2009   No Comments

Technology as seen by Turing

Posted by Michael Haworth

“A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine.”

Quote from “Intelligent Machinery: A Report by A. M. Turing,” (Summer 1948), submitted to the National Physical Laboratory (1948) and published in Key Papers: Cybernetics, ed. C. R. Evans and A. D. J. Robertson (1968) and, in variant form, in Machine Intelligence 5, ed. B. Meltzer and D. Michie (1969)

Quotation and quotation information obtained from

When I think of technology, I often think about an absolutely amazing mathematician that had a tragic ending named Alan Turing. Turing was integral during World War II to unlocking the German secret Enigma machine codes.  As can be seen in the quote above, he also brought forward the idea of a “universal machine” or technology that could simulate any computer algorithm.  Turing also proposed the “Turing Test” to prove or disprove whether a computer could be considered “intelligent” or not.  Technology extends the mental and physical capabilities of humanity and surrounds us and is part of much of what we do and how we live.  Technology includes everything from a simple plough to the most sophisticated computer or telecommunication systems. .  I see Turing looking at “technology” from a  similarly very large, all-cncompassing perspective rather from a specific task or application perspective.

September 13, 2009   No Comments


Technology- means of transmitting information and making life easier! I see technology in simple things that enhance and facilitate every-day processes and do-abouts.


Image from:…/2008/05/images/abacus.jpg

September 12, 2009   No Comments


As text is the word itself, technology is the means by which to share the text. This can take many forms from the most ancient of the scroll to the modern computer applications. To me technology as a process is something subtle, but wide reaching. Something which, for better or worse, slithers its way into society changing all elements of daily life, communication, thought process and our world view. The process reminds me of the erosion of cliffs which stand strong for many years, but with years of wear, wind, and climate change are made anew. Yet, they continue to stand, but in a different and more refined way. This is why I have chosen the image of the Cliffs of Morr in Ireland. They are much like the process and evolution of technology- strong and stealth, but ever changing as time and events alter their shape, their scope and their breadth.Cliffs of Moor

September 12, 2009   1 Comment

Working Smarter Not Harder

If you asked me last year to define technology I would have used words like: modern, electronic, fast, technical and expensive. Recently I have come to a different personal understanding of technology. I believe that technology is anything that allows you to work more efficiently. The wheel was a technological wonder in its day as was the pencil. The fellow in this youtube video seems to have the same view of technology. I love working “smarter not harder”. As a matter of fact my wife teases me and says that if I die before she does she is going to engrave “He worked smarter not harder” on my gravestone.YouTube Preview Image

September 12, 2009   No Comments

The Original Technology

Hands, originally uploaded by Weird Beard.

We typically view technology as something separate from us. Technology is a process or an instrument we employ apart from ourselves. Yet, just look at our hands.  They are some of the very first instruments we see and use as infants.  Our minds never stop employing our hands. The paradox is that we see technology as something separate from ourselves even though we are inherently technological.  We say that we are one thing and technology is another. But doesn’t technology really start from our imaginations employing our bodies to fulfill an idea or a need?  All machines and processes are manifestations of our thoughts.  We give birth to technology.  We have a deep kinship with it and more…   McLuhan took this notion to its extreme when he said, in relation to our harnessing of electricity, “electricity may be said to have outered the central nervous system itself.”

We are the original technology and we have a deep and organic kinship with all the technology we create.

Marshal McLuhan, Understanding Media (reprint, Cambridge, Mass: MIT, 1994), 247.

September 11, 2009   1 Comment


Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan.
Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan.

What is technology? 

Currently, for me the term “technology” refers to a system in society. It is too difficult for me to consider technology a simple tool. Technology is just as much the ability to use a tool as it is to be the tool. Technology can function within its own system independently (mechanized production) or it may require other elements to function as a system (a human programs a machine).

I chose the image of Akihabara, the electric city, in Tokyo, Japan to translate visually what the term technology means to me. I lived in Tokyo for 10 years and I often went to “Akiba”. Akihabara functions as the system I’m trying to describe in words. Every aspect of it the city is related to the creation, use, improvement and distribution of electronics. It’s one of the most futuristic places in Tokyo and often made me feel like humans were in service to the machines, but in a positive way. I am not stating that electronic=technology, but I am (hopefully) showing the importance of the system and drawing attention to the way society is shaped by and shapes technologies.

Please watch the tour of Akihabara embedded below if you are interested in walking the streets to get a better idea of how the system I’m describing actually functions.  (Erin Gillespie)

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Jmho. (2007). Akiba denkigai. Wikimedia Commons. Available online 10, September, 2009, from

YouTube. (2009) Akihabara electric city Tokyo. Genki Available online 10, September, 2009 from

September 10, 2009   No Comments