I woke up early this morning. Apparently, one of the doldrums of age is losing the ability to sleep in on the weekends. It’s a bit of a bummer, but not entirely worthless. So I decided to finish reading Neil Postman’s Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. It’s an excellent book piecing through and connecting the larger abstracts of modern day culture. Technopoly is an idea book with an entirely different form of narrative, ending on the following notes:
“Those who resist the American Technopoly are people:
• who refuse to accept efficiency as the pre-eminent goal of human relations;
• who have freed themselves from the belief of the magical power of numbers, do not regard calculation as an adequate substitute for judgment, or precision as a synonym for truth;
• who are, at least, suspicious of the idea of progress, and who do not confuse information with understanding.”Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology
Technopoly is written by Postman as a rallying cry. His concern is a peripheral cultural subversion by way of our inescapable drive towards the technology of numbers. We often use statistical analysis to determine the direction towards success without often considering the myriad factors that co-opt that success. Numbers are the beginning of wisdom, not its end.
To illustrate this, Postman offers various examples, the most poignant of which involves politics. So enamored are politicians with polling that they often allow those numbers to drive decision-making (for a cogent example, refer to the 2016 United States election). If that is, in fact, the case why do we need politicians? We are electing them to lead society, yet the decision-making process has devolved into simple numbers assessments. Policy by polling. Where, in this equation, is the leadership? Where is the vision?