Technopoly Analysis

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In a skillful evaluation of the fundamental changes occurring in Western culture given the rising trend in new technologies, Neil Postman cautions against embracing technology’s efficiencies while declining to question how it modifies society and people’s way of thinking. In the first chapter of Technopoly, Postman posits that television is an obvious example of technology that benefits a number of people, especially those with fulfilling careers in television, and at the same time threatens the careers of schoolteachers. His emphasis is that such technologies do not necessarily work to the benefit or detriment of anyone; rather, they alter society’s inherent make-up, including beliefs, values and culture. Nevertheless, the benefits of television in the learning process have been documented in research, and with the inclusion of teachers and other forms of learning in this process, it can be argued that technology can achieve a dual purpose, depending on people’s adaptability and use of the new system.
One of the key arguments presented by Postman is the double-edged effect of any technological innovation, and therein lies the greatest strength of his assertion. He argues that any new technology is “both a burden and a blessing” (Postman, 1993, p. 5), given that technology introduces fundamental change in society as it modifies the structure of the things people think about, the nature and language of how they think as well as the character of the community they live in where ideas develop (p.20). While the benefits of television have included the development of literacy skills at an early stage, there are also growing concerns about television content and children’s viewing habits, and how these factors ultimately affect the deve...

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...rch studies demonstrate that television cannot be classified as primarily good or bad. As a technological innovation in literacy development, it can influence learning and human perceptions in a positive or negative way depending on various factors such as content, time spent watching television and child supervision by parents and teachers, among others. Postman essentially argues that the individuals likely to view television as a blessing are those benefiting from the jobs and other opportunities it offers, but in the classroom, this technology is likely to alter and undermine old forms of education while at the same time supersede schoolteachers. However, careful consideration should go into the efficiencies of this technology which applies to students and teachers, as well as the ability of humanity to adjust, assimilate, exploit and regulate new technologies.
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