The Online Technology and Society Reader
Part Two: Technology and Time (and Space)
|The general rationale for technological change
is increased efficiency. But what does that mean? One
assumption that we are making is that the prime characteristic of
technology is speed; technology accelerates and in a capitalist economy it
accelerates production, consumption, and waste. The following
articles illustrate how we have come to accelerate our lives and what this
has meant for the way we live and think.
|Reading 1. Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management|
If you've never heard of Frederick Taylor, he is considered by some to be one of the five most important people of the twentieth century. What did he do? Taylor developed a system that he called "scientific management" that purported to greatly improve the efficiency of workers. In the process, he contributed to the development of "Fordism" (see below), he revolutionized the workplace and transformed the view of labor, and perhaps of time itself. This article describes the basics of scientific management and how Taylor developed it.
|Reading 2. Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything|
|Why is the "close
door" button on the elevator the most frequently used? Why do
people watch the seconds count down on their microwave? Why is the
pace of our life so fast? These are some of the questions that James
Gleick asks in his book, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About
Everything. In this readings you can look at some excerpts from
the book and find out some ways to "save time."
|Reading 3. Stephen Talbott - Speeding toward meaninglessness: why time-saving devices don't save time|
|Drawing from a book by Helena Norberg-Hodge called "Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh," Talbott explains why labor and time-saving devices do neither.|
|Reading 4. Wolfgang Sachs (Resurgence) - Rich in things, poor in time|
|Sachs introduces a couple of
interesting notions in this article about the relationship between
material things and our ideas of time. There is first the
distinction between the utility of goods and their symbolic value, and how
that difference explains our need to accumulate stuff. He also
discusses how our view of goods differs under conditions of abundance and
conditions of frugality.
Since January 28, 2003