Low Technology*Digital Revolution

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • Low Technology*Digital Revolution

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • (1) CONSIDER the revolutionary possibilities of:
    • 5% of the population able to visit an interactive multimedia website.
    • 55% of the population able to word-process a letter of complaint.
    THESIS: Revolutionary social change is emerging from technology that we consider obsolete, not from the latest, most powerful digital machinery.

    (2) CONSIDER: Whatever its artistic intention, a colourful web graphic communicates one principle message to most viewers, “How about splashing out on a new monitor?”
    THESIS: Revolutionary artists who work with IT must challenge the exclusivity of the medium and question its relationship to a big money industry. When we talk about the revolutionary effects of information technology we tend to focus on the cutting edge. Yet the practical application of brand new, high-cost technologies seems to be profoundly counter-revolutionary, consolidating established power bases rather than breaking them apart.

    We have yet to experience the truly revolutionary effects of the IT. We will do so only once each of us is able to harness near-zero-cost computing power for our own purposes. The real IT revolution is yet to come, but it’ll happen sooner than you think. The weapons that we’ll use to bring about this revolution are (contrary to our previous perceptions deeply unglamorous — the 286 database salvaged from the office; the Mac Classic pulled from the skip; the cheapest green-screen word processor; the Amiga emailer bought from a small ad. Technology companies plan to remanufacture the “audio tape storage and TV monitor” machines of the 1980’s to distribute in the developing world. The size of the markets they seek to address make Microsoft look unambitious. IT revolution? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

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