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The False Promises of the Digital Revolution

How Computers transform Education, Work, and International Development in Ways that are Ecologically Unsustainable

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C.A Bowers

The False Promises of the Digital Revolution examines what currently goes largely unnoticed because of the many important uses of digital technologies. While many people interpret digital technologies as accelerating the global rate of progress, C. A. Bowers focuses attention on how they reinforce the deep and ecologically problematic cultural assumptions of the West: the myth of progress, the substitution of data for different cultural traditions of wisdom, the connections between print and abstract thinking, the myth of individual autonomy, the conduit view of language that hides how words (metaphors) reproduce earlier misconceptions, and a Social Darwinian justification for colonizing other cultures that is now leading to armed resistance – which, in turn, strengthens the ties between corporations, the military, and the computer science industry. The book also investigates how to understand the cultural non-neutrality of digital technologies; how print and the emphasis on data undermine awareness of the tacit information pathways between cultural and natural ecologies; and how to identify educational reforms that will contribute to a more informed public about the uses of digital technologies.
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Chapter 3: The Digital Differences Between Community-Centered and Corporate Capitalism

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Chapter 3

The Digital Differences Between Community-Centered and Corporate Capitalism

What the proponents and critics of the digital revolution have in common is they both perpetuate the patterns of thinking that were dominant during the last decades of the 20th century when most current professors and classroom teachers were earning their graduate degrees. Cultural lag is real, and has dire consequences that are being ignored by people who think only in terms of progress. Both proponents such Eric Schmidt, Gregory Stock, Ray Kurzweil, and Michio Kaku and critics such as Nicholas Carr, Sherry Turkle, and Robert McChesney continue to ignore the dominant reality of the 21st century: That is, that the earth’s natural systems are now undergoing an increasingly rapid decline in their ability to support living systems. The media never tire of finding new adjectives to describe the impact of the latest record setting environmental disaster, yet their silence continues.

Environmental degradation is not new, and it has an uneven history. It became a global phenomenon again with the rise of the early century Industrial Revolution. This revolution was widely embraced by social theorists and members of the emerging middle class in the West. Western philosophers, as well as the rise of print-dominated cultural storage and thinking, were influential in establishing the new secular Truth that equated the industrial and scientifically based system of production and consumption with the idea of progress that became the new messianic vision to be...

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