Technology scales. And whatever values are embedded within it scale too. And whatever behaviors it makes easier or more appealing or addictive, that scales too. It’s not good or bad. It’s good AND bad. There’s no free lunch. As something is gained something else is lost. That’s the nature of change. The telephone made it easier for us to move away from our families. Good and Bad. HVAC made it easier for us to work and live in climates that are hard to work and live in. Good and bad. Television made it easier for folks who could get on television to tell stories. Good and bad. Social media made it easier for a broad population to share their stories. Good and bad.
I’m not anti-technology. Far from it. I just wish there weren’t such a gap between technology inventors and technology critics. Because technology critics raise interesting questions about technology that inventors, for the most part, don’t. Artists explore the gap between inventors and critics and I’m so happy that they do. But I’m not sure that they close it.
In order to close it, we need to value both inventors and critics and feel ok about the complexity of that range of perspective. We need less black and white thinking and more of what Roger Martin calls “The Opposable Mind” – the ability to hold two seemingly opposite ideas in one’s head, resist the urge to choose one or the other, but rather generate and assess a multitude of creative resolutions. When it comes to the complexity of technology and it’s scalability, we need to understand what is gained and what is lost. We need less OR and more AND.