Social Practices — Reflections.
How far can technology reform or deform our laws — our social practices?
How far can technology affect forms of capital — forms of power in our society?
A little over 7 years ago, in one of our ICT (Information Communication Technology) classes, we were taught about the Digital Divide — the gap between countries in terms of digital access and their abilities to transmit and receive digital information. We were taught about the digital issues faced by countries that were only starting to emerge in the so called ‘third-world’ (which to me is a derogatory term in and of it self) and how there was a gap in information, knowledge, and ability to prosper and grow. This divide perfectly frames our thoughts about forms of capital, one which Bourdieu discusses.
Access to digital and electronic entertainment and tools is by-far one of the largest assets and privileges the contemporary world has to offer. It’s impact has been felt so powerfully that historians have termed this recent period the digital or information age.
In lieu of this, it is easy to identify the power and control this access provides to us over one who does not possess it — a digital wealth. Recently, this access to mobile technology, phone networks and wi-fi has been spreading rapidly, and it has affected the world in ways which we could not have predicted. It has leveled the playing field in ways un-imagined. With the ability to share information, people have exposed and bought to light criminal acts large and small, campaigned and advocated for causes far and wide, and most of all bought power into the hands of the every-man.
This new-found power now has the ability to bring reform and vision to the masses — perhaps slowly but surely. The spread of information has changed and sped up — its propagation itself is the tool through which it has become enhanced. This enhancement itself is enough to start bringing about change in our society.
When we look at technologies, we start to wonder — will we shape our policies around them, or will we let them shape our technologies? Latour in his writing indicates that there is a moral complication when we start mixing technology, morality and law. He argues that if the car does not need you to put in the seatbelt to start driving, is there not a moral grey zone on the designer’s behalf that he allowed the car to work that way — thus perhaps not ensuring the driver’s safety? It falls to us to make sure that we now, with this new propagated power of information and design, work with them to design forms of digital capital and moral law that integrate and work with each other to better our social practices.