Things Can Be Otherwise 3/8

On Being With Technology


We are cyborgs: where do tools stop and begin?


  • “A cyborg is a hybrid of technology (or machine) and organism”
  • “All the experiences we have, thoughts we hold or actions we take are either enables, expressed or informed by technology.” – ‘Skipping of original unity’; Harraway 2000:292
    • argument against that??

Tools and technology:

  • Techne – know how to use it at its best
  • Technology has an effect and makes a mark on the world
    • “anything that can have an effect is a tool” – G. harman (2002) tool-being, p.20
  • consumed by tool e.g. hammer break, tool is lost
  • technology has an effect/leaves a mark on the world

Pre or sub-personal – are you independent?

Equality feminism – Harraway is a feminist

  • challenge boundaries/not fixed identities/change shape reality
  • equality is in a state of flux

Harrrawy: we are cyborgs

  • different meanings of technology

Harman: capacity to have an effect; as beings we’re shaped and changed by tools around us

Harraway: “we are actually morally obliged to acknowledge our status as cyborgs”

Several different definitions of technology – which one is true?

  • We use tools and need tools to live
  • acknowledgement calls attention to our responsibility to create ‘noise’ or kinds of living to become something other (Haraway 2000: 292,312)

Moral obligation: recognising life is not fixed; ever-changing.

Argument: statements in supports of a conclusion

Fallacy: bad or weak argument

Forms of arguments:

  • What she says about Johannes Kepler’s astronomy of the 1600s must be just so much garbage. Do you realise she’s only 15 years old? – very little support; attack person rather than addressing ideas; assumption; undermining girls view; 15 year old – what does she know?; weak argument
  • He’s rich, so he should be the president of our parents and teachers assumption. – conclusion: he should be president because he’s rich; rich = power; appeal to money; wealth = success; weak argument
  • Well it’s time for a decision. Will you contribute £20 to our environmental fund, or are you on the side of environmental destruction? – black or white; false dilemma; pay £20 or you’re a bad person; weak argument

Thesis of connection: working-with or playing-with

Have an idea then find a tool to use? Or use a tool then find an idea to work and find what you can do with that tool?

Nicholas Carr: The Shallows – digital technology makes us shallow

Next week:

Indexical drawing

  • e.g. smoke is a trace of fire; paper on top of a door handle- imprint of door handle

Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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