Small but Powerful

This particular chapter was very difficult for me to get through for a couple of reasons, one of them being the fact that I disagree with a lot of what I feel like are her base ideas/values that drove her to write this manifesto. While a lot of her larger ideas escaped me, with her unnecessarily complicated writing I want to focus on a few of the things I did take away and could expand on.

Smaller is Better

“Modern machines are quintessentially microelectronic devices: they are everywhere and they are invisible” (12).

“Writing, power, and technology are old partners in Western stories of the origin of civilization, but miniaturization has changed our experience of mechanism. Miniaturization has turned out to be about power; small is not so much beautiful as pre-eminently dangerous, as in cruise missiles” (12).

Bigger is always better right? Not necessarily in today’s atmosphere. One of the things that I think Haraway got right is this idea that all of our technology is becoming smaller and more invisible. How many people actually know how they are getting cellular data or wifi? You can’t see it, but it is happening and it controls a lot of what we do and when we do it. Phones used to be large and they are getting smaller and smaller. The only change that can be seen is that the screen size is getting larger but the width of the phone is still getting smaller. Google Glass is another example of almost invisible technology. Only the wearer of the Google glasses gets to see the information they are searching.

The idea that something small could have so much power interested me  because it does seem true. We are all dependant on our small technologies like cell phones. The cell phones then give power to the providers and those who know how the phones operate and produce them. This does afford quite a bit of power since people have become heavily dependant on phones. I believe that in this chapter she talks about how we are already becoming cyborgs with our attachment to technology. I know that I can’t go even two hours without my phone. It is a source of information and entertainment.

Oddly enough, people don’t seem to see technology as having power over them. Why is that? Personally, if it can’t argue with me or tell me what to do I don’t see it as being in charge or having power over me. Everyone assumes they have the choice to put down the device and that they have the power (they are not cyborgs) but they have never had to make that choice. Someone mentioned in class that it isn’t a cyborg if the organic and inorganic parts don’t need each other (like someone with a removable prosthetic leg). We have never had to find out what it would be like to quit technology cold turkey. In today’s society it is next to impossible since everyone else is using it. Does that mean that the use of technology on a global scale is what is giving it its power? As a society we are operating on a technological plane and when someone steps off, they can’t function in the same way. To me that means that technology has a lot more power than people would like to think about (and they don’t because it is invisible). Even though our devices are small they have a large and scarily invisible presence.

Clean Room/ Discussion Questions

“Our best machines are made of sunshine; they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of a spectrum” (12).

“The new machines are so clean and light” (12).

To continue with the idea of power above, are we giving technology its power by painting it in such a positive light? By making it seem clean, better, and above the messiness of humans are we putting it on a pedestal? Are we counting on technology to make us better? At what point will technology become as dangerous as Haraway claims? When we finally create tech that can think as we do?


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