John Zerzan - Questioning Technology. PDF

PDF This book from the late eighties "presents only one sire — the other side. [Their] purpose is to persuade you to think critically about technology."

It is a fabulous anthology of techno-critical writing. It tries to answer questions like:
- What is the future of human culture with respect to technology?
- Are computers a force for increased individual autonomy — or a route to a new totalitarianism?
- What does one learn from interaction with a computer? How does it affect relationships with people?
- Is technology "neutral".

Many of these essays are little gems. For example, I really liked Fulano's "Civilization is like a Jetliner":

Civilization is like a jetliner, noisy, burning up enormous amounts of fuel. Every imaginable and unimaginable crime and pollution had to be committed in order to make it go. Whole species were rendered extinct, whole populations dispersed. Its shadow on the waters resembles an oil slick. Birds are sucked into its jets and vaporized. Every part, as Gus Grissom once nervously remarked about space capsules before he was burned up in one, has been made by the lowest bidder.

Civilization is like a jetliner, the filtered air, the muzak oozing over the earphones, a phony sense of security, the chemical food the plastic trays, all the passengers sitting passively in the orderly row of padded seats staring at Death on the movie screen. Civilization is like a jetliner, an idiot savant in the cockpit, manipulating computerized controls built by sullen wage workers, and dependent for his directions on sleepy technicians high on amphetamines with their minds wandering to sports and sex.

Civilization is like a 747, filled beyond capacity with coerced volunteers - some in love with the velocity, most wavering at the abyss of terror and nausea, yet still seduced by advertising and propaganda.


The editors of this book were a bit dismayed about the patriarchal language that is being used by the authors. In the opening pages of the book they explain in a handwritten chapter titled "Questioning Technology, Questioning Patriarchy" their reasoning behind marking every occurance of "him", "his", "man" or any other male-centric word in the book. Those markings kind of worked for me.

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