In 1978, Madeleine L’Engle released the novel A Swiftly Tilting Planet as a sequel to the multi-award winning novel A Wrinkle in Time. A Swiftly Tilting Planet chronicles the impending doom of humankind due to technology (i.e., nuclear weapons) and the use of magic to alter the past, present, and subsequent future in order to save the world. While it might be troubling to consider technology which has the purpose to destroy instead of create, it is ultimately the connectedness of humans that determines how we utilize the technologies we invent.
As for magic, a few years prior to the publication of L’Engle’s story, Sir Arthur C. Clarke proposed “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” as the third and final of his predication-related “laws”. As we consider the juxtaposition of these two thoughts,
Often new technologies are unleashed like Ashe with his shotgun declaring, “This is my boomstick,” and while this is a humorous take on the principle, there are many examples throughout history of advanced technology being used to shock-and-awe people and cultures. It even happens in less threatening environments.
Jonathan Safran Foer posited in a 2013 New York Times opinion column that “technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat.” In 2007, Michael Wesch stated, “we tend to emphasize our independence and individuality, failing to realize just how interconnected we are with each other and the rest of the world, and disregarding the health of our relationships with others”. And finally, going back to 1982, Ernest Boyer stated that “as a global society, we simply cannot afford a generation that fails to see or care about connections.”
With these thoughts in mind, we must be mindful how technology impacts connectedness; how does it influence the human community? Whether we consider it technology or magic, we must consider how technological advances change how we interact with one another and whether we choose to use it to create or destroy.
This blog explores these themes, among others. This is the fourth reboot of this blog since it’s original publication a decade ago.