Class: How to Question Technology, Or, What Would Neil Postman Say?
Want to learn more about Neil Postman? Read the digital archive and watch the videos below!
When new technologies are introduced to the public, much is said about the benefits they will bestow upon us, and the brave new world that will result. Very little is mentioned about what they might take from us, the harm they may cause to us, and whether we really need them in the first place.
We need to learn how to engage in critical evaluation of technology, and that begins by learning how to ask questions technology. And we can find no better guide to asking good questions than Neil Postman (1931-2003), the preeminent American critic of media and culture over the past half century, and the author of twenty-five books, including Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) and Technopoly (1992). Postman explained that there are a number of questions we need to ask before we launch any new technology into the world, questions like:
–What is the problem to which the technology claims to be the solution?
–Whose problem is it?
–What new problems will be created from solving an old one?
How relevant are these and other questions for our current tech-driven world? What would Neil Postman say about social media, mobile devices, VR, and AI?
Robert Albrecht is a former student of Neil Postman when he earned his doctorate degree in Media Ecology from NYU. He has taught in the Media Arts Department at New Jersey City University since 1997 and is the author of several articles exploring the intersection of music, media, and culture in both the United States and in Latin America. His book Mediating the Muse (2004, Hampton Press) was honored by the Media Ecology Association with the Dorothy Lee Award. In 2016, he was honored with “The Excellence in Teaching Award” by the New Jersey City University Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Albrecht is currently collaborating with Carmine Tabone on a book entitled Teaching as a Creative Activity: The Arts as Pedagogy in the Age of Digital Technology (Peter Lang Publishers, forthcoming 2019).
Robert is also a musician and songwriter. His CD Song of the Poet, a cycle of songs that transformed the poetry of Whitman, Poe, Neruda and others into musical settings, was recognized with the John Culkin Award. More recently, he has released a CD of original songs about people, places and events in Jersey City and Hoboken entitled A Tale of Two Cities.
Albrecht has also worked for 40 years with children in Jersey City, using a child’s natural propensity to dance, sing, draw, paint, imagine and play make believe as opportunities for social, emotional and academic learning
Neil Postman speaks to Apple employees in LA, 1993
Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death, Part 1
Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death, Part 2