The rapid developments in the fields of science and technology have brought about drastic changes to man’s life. The growth of information technology has accelerated information sharing and has been instrumental in better and easier global relations among people who belong to various nationalities and cultures. The world has become a global community and whatever takes place in any corner of the world has assumed global significance. Technological developments have accelerated industrialization, globalization and new trends in the field of nanotechnology offer scope for further achievements and experiments in the field of technology.
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However, the developments in the fields of technology have also resulted in changed life styles, value systems and social, cultural and political life of the humans. The paper tries to analyze three articles on technology and society and the aim of the paper is to throw light on how technological developments have affected the social changes among nations and communities. The articles selected for the purpose of the study are Computer Systems and Values (Helen Nissenbaum, 5/200) by DouglasDixon, “President’s Message: Advancing Technological Literacy: Serving Society” by George R. Willcox and “Technology and Social Change: The Effects on Family and Community” by Dr. J.A. English Lueck.
Douglas Dixon, in his article, postulates that technology and values are interrelated and the author reviews the ideas put forward by Helen Nissenbaum, a research associate at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values in his article. Dixon feels that Helen Nissenbaum was right when the latter stated that “”Information technology changes the world, and some of these changes challenge previous commitments to values and principles,” (Dixon, 2001).
Nissenbaum believes that “computer and information systems can embody values” (Dixon, 2001) whereas many think otherwise. It is because of this power of the information systems that the social and ethical life of man has been highly altered by the spread of technology. The intellectual properties, privacy and security of others are to taken into account whenever new technological devices are developed. Therefore, the article exhorts the designers and engineers who make use of new technologies to design devices that embody values. The article clearly asks the designers and engineers to take sole responsibility of the devices they develop and it assumes greater importance in the present technological scenario where technology is used for harmful and disastrous endeavors.
The article then goes on to explain how computer systems have replaced human decision making and how it has caused great amount of digital divide among the haves and the have-nots. In a world where everything is controlled and decided by machines, no one is responsible or accountable for anything. Similarly, when it comes to information sharing there is a great disparity between people who have access to computers or internets and people who do not have such privilege.
Nissenbaum feels that such a condition gives way to injustice as the poor and the less privileged are not offered equal access to information. There is no time that learners who have access to the modern developments in technology are most likely to have an upper edge compared to those who do not have them. It is thus necessary that equal access to technology is being provided to everyone and for this the governments of each nation have a pivotal role to play.
George R. Willcox’s article entitled “President’s Message: Advancing Technological Literacy: Serving Society” stresses the importance of promoting technological literacy and he emphasizes the service of technology educators in this regard. Being the president of the International Technology Education Association (ITEA), the author elaborately shares the goals of the association and pinpoints the steps undertaken by the association.
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The article highlights that it is essential “to enhance the delivery of technology programs that prepare students to use, manage, assess, and understand technology” (Willcox, 2003) and according to the author any nation that does not promote technological literacy would be lagging behind in the global competition. Technology undergoes developments in the same way the society changes. So it is imperative that technology educators up-to-date their potentialities and equip themselves to meet the changed demands of the new generation. For this, the ITEA seeks to be the “driving force in building collaborative initiatives with education, business and industry, government, and agencies that lead achievement in technological literacy for all.” (Willcox, 2003)
The goals of the ITEA include the implementation of a technology curriculum at the K-12 level, expanding its service area to a vast number of beneficiaries, introducing novel legislative measures for STEM collaborations, promoting internationalism through technology, ensuring ‘member participation in leadership, decision-making, and creating products and services’, and increasing the number and productivity of technology education teachers.
The underlying motive, of al these goals, is to provide technology education to all, both through formal and informal means of education. The article calls forth the services of talented and dedicated technology educators for the accomplishment of the Association’s proposed initiatives.
The concept of technological literacy, no doubt, is the need of the hour as man cannot think of a modern man who is not equipped with any sort of technology education. However, the role of technology educators is not just limited to the transaction of technology literacy. Rather, it is their duty to convince the learners of how to use technology for positive endeavors. They need to develop programs and software that would also offer social and cultural values to the common public.
For technological education to be a service to the society, the curriculum should be so carefully designed so as to mould responsible citizens who would accomplish “something for society that makes nations advance and flourish.” (Willcox, 2003). The article, “Technology and Social Change: The Effects on Family and Community”, by Dr. J.A. English Lueck is yet another thought provoking work that deals with technological developments and their impacts on the social life of people. The article provides a vivid picture of how man’s life, his communications and interactions have changed because of the advancements made in the fields of science and technology.
The author depicts how internet, emails, cellular phones, voice chat and the media have altered the life style of people. The article offers findings from a detailed study conducted among 450 people and fifty community leaders in the Silicon Valley region. Dr. J.A. English Lueck observes that there is an evident ‘shift in the work-home relationship’ due to the wide spread impact of information technology.
The number of people who carry on their work even at home has considerably increases as various information devices are able to surpass both time and space. Thus, it has become easier for the businessmen, multinational companies, and the national and international corporate firms to control and manage the affairs within no span of time. The author also believes that technological devices has also helped in maintaining family ties stronger as the family members have easy access for communication and being together.
The author also notes that there is a considerable difference in the way the family members relate to each other and solve their problems with the emergence of technology and the work-home culture. To quote his own words: “Families increasingly view themselves as management problems to be solved, just as they would be at work, with technology. Pagers, cell phones and answering machines, and now palm pilots, are used in tandem to coordinate complex household schedules.” (Dr. J.A. English Lueck, 1998). Besides, the services of the various technological devices save the time of the family members and help them to better plan their time, schedules and resources.
The article also throws light on how technology has impacted life in the community and it has been proved that communities have assumed the nature of global villages. However, the author identifies that there is difference in the way each community makes use of the technology and the shared culture of the community acts as a deciding factor. On the other hand, communities have become more organized and developmental initiatives form the key characteristics of the communities where technology is made use of.
Having reviewed the three articles, one can clearly state that technological developments have brought about positive social changes. It has brought about great differences in human relationships and the very life styles of the people have been altered to suit to the technologically developed world. There have been revolutionary changes in the communication and information technology. Technology has resulted in development and economic stability.
However, the adverse impacts of many technological developments have made man to think of appropriate technologies that would not harm man’s existence and peace of mind. Thus, technological developments should not aim at human destruction and distrust like the nuclear weapons; they should not be harmful to the ecological balance and should be for the national; and international good.
From a sociological perspective, one needs to take into account the adverse effects of technological developments on the society too. A person learns and develops his behavior pattern from all that he sees, hears, reads, understands and experiences. No doubt, information technology has made possible information sharing quite easy; however, there are both good and bad information. One of the most adverse factors that affect the value system of the society is the likelihood of wrong messages that the advancements in the technology are capable of yielding. The rapid growth of internet users has also intensified the growth rate of children being addicts to wrong habits and behavior patterns.
The media, hailed as one of the most remarkable contributions of the technology era, is capable of influencing people negatively. The increasing number of family breakdowns, divorce rate, unmarried mothers, single parents and child sexual abuse point to the degradation of moral values in the society and it is high time to see the role played by technology in all these evils of the society.
Dixon, Douglas. (2001). Computer Systems and Values (Helen Nissenbaum, 5/2001). Manifest Technology: Making Sense of Digital Media Technology. Web.
Willcox, George R. (2003). Publication Information: Article Title: President’s Message: Advancing Technological Literacy Serving Society. Journal Title: The Technology Teacher, 62(6).
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Dr. J. A, English Lueck. (1998). Technology and family: Technology and social change: The effects on family and community. Red Rock Eater News Service: Technology and Social Change. Web.