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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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Preface

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The sketch of the water fountain in the Alhambra in southern Spain, the totem pole of a Northwest indigenous culture, and Michelangelo’s painting of Jonah in the Sistine Chapel may all seem incongruous with the main themes of a book critical of the digital revolution. If the cover of the book were larger I would have included the iconic images of other cultures’ moral and conceptual world views. But these three iconic images are enough to make the point of what is being overlooked by the combination of computer scientists, corporations, and the military that are pursuing their goal of creating a global monoculture that relies on super-computers to make data-based decisions about how people should live their lives. The architectural beauty of the Alhambra is representative of one of the high points in the development of Muslim culture, just as the totem pole is representative of indigenous cultures that achieved an understanding of how to live in sustainable relationships with their bioregions. Michelangelo’s painting is a reminder of the Judeo-Christian traditions that are still very much alive. The central place it occupies in the sketch is not meant to suggest that it as more important than the other two iconic images.

These current worldviews, as well as those of cultures in other parts of the world, led to the development of languages that enabled people to understand relationships, make moral decisions, acquire a sense of self-identity, and to engage in activities that are the source...

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