Por Ben Rooney / http://blogs.wsj.com/
Interesante reflexión sobre como algunas veces las personas nos resistimos a aceptar o creer en ciertas tecnologías aun sin tener evidencia de lo contrario, especialmente dedicado a Chema.
Why is it that some technologies cause moral panic and others don’t? Why was the introduction of electricity seen as a terrible thing, while nobody cared much about the fountain pen?
According to Genevieve Bell, the director of Intel Corporation’s Interaction and Experience Research, we have had moral panic over new technology for pretty well as long as we have had technology. It is one of the constants in our culture.
“I like the fact that moral panic is remarkably stable and it is always played out in the bodies of children and women,” she said.
There was, she says, an initial pushback about electrifying homes in the U.S.: “If you electrify homes you will make women and children and vulnerable. Predators will be able to tell if they are home because the light will be on, and you will be able to see them. So electricity is going to make women vulnerable. Oh and children will be visible too and it will be predators, who seem to be lurking everywhere, who will attack.
“There was some wonderful stuff about [railway trains] too in the U.S., that women’s bodies were not designed to go at 50 miles an hour. Our uteruses would fly out of our bodies as they were accelerated to that speed.”
She has a sort of work-in-progress theory to work out which technologies will trigger panic, and which will not.
- It has to change your relationship to time.
- It has to change your relationship to space.
- It has to change your relationship to other people.
And, says Ms. Bell, it has to hit all three, or at least have the potential to hit them.
The first push-back is going to be about kids
“Think about it,” she says “Electricity? Changed our relationship to time, and changed our relationship to space, because not only could we make big spaces but we could light them up. It rearranged the cityscape completely. And it totally changed our relationships to other people in all sorts of ways, whether it was because you could suddenly cook for yourself so you didn’t need servants.
“Cars? Clearly the same. Television? Absolutely. The Internet? Yes. Mobile phones? Yes. Fountain pens? Not so much. They may have changed our relationships to other people, but they didn’t really change our relationships to time and space.”
Now if we have a rule for which technologies are going to cause panic, we also can predict where the panic will start.
“The first push-back is going to be about kids. Is it making our children vulnerable? To predators? To other forms of danger? We will immediately then regulate access. I don’t want to seem cynical because there is a reason why we worry about children, but I do think you can tell that’s where it’s going to start.”
The problem, says Ms. Bell, is that cultures change far slower than technologies do. And because the rate of technological innovation is increasing, so too is the rate of moral panic.
When a new technology comes in, society has to establish norms about how to handle it. That is a long and slow process. She cites the mobile phone. Almost as soon as they became ubiquitous, there started a commentary against them, she said.
Comedy has always played the role of social control
“There was a British comedian who did a sketch with a huge phone in a library. Immediately there is mockery of this behavior. Immediately that becomes part of the things that is associated with the mobile phone. Because then you start to look like this idiot with the phone, and nobody wants to be mocked.
“Comedy has always played this role of social control. Much of Shakespeare’s plays are a form of social control by telling people what is inappropriate. It is about how you regulate what is appropriate.”
These conversations about what is and is not acceptable, tacit and explicit, take time. But technology doesn’t wait: “We don’t get to stabilize before the next one comes along. We still have conversations about the TV, like, ‘is it rude to leave the TV on when you have visitors, even if you turn the volume down?’”
And ironically, in a world that has a greater ability to communicate and pass messages than at any other time in our history, we are no better at working these things out today than we were with the introduction of the printing press: “One of the challenges is that culture is transmitted through things that cannot be digitized.”
So unless something happens, and Ms. Bell is skeptical that it will, then as a society we can expect to be struggling with issues surrounding technologies, well, pretty well for ever.
“We are still having conversations now about the meaning of ‘opening doors’. Opening doors is seen as a transgressive act for feminists since the 1960s, but actually the action is rooted in notions of moral purity from 1600s.”
It has taken us 400 years and we still haven’t sorted out the door.