Importance of Tech and Culture


Unsure what to expect, I nervously walked into my Technology and Culture class on my second day at ASL. I was unaware that this unique course would prove to be one of the most valuable classes I have ever taken.

Throughout the course of the semester, I developed an understanding of the complex relationship between technological advancement and civilization, and gained an entirely new perspective on society as a whole.

The course takes a journey through the history of technology, starting from the modest beginnings before gradually moving to the accelerated advancements of recent times. It focuses on how culture and civilizations have influenced this development and in turn how this development has influenced society as we know it. This course allowed me to see the ethics and social impacts of technological advancements, a side of technology I had never studied before.

I was surprised to find only four other students in the class with me. Although this did not take away from the class experience, it made me concerned that this course was not well known. When I was asked what electives I was taking, many of my peers were unaware of this elective or knew very little about it. This is unfortunate as so many students were missing out on such a valuable opportunity.

When I tried to persuade others to take the course, many told me they wanted to use their tech credit to learn skills that could actually be applied later in their lives. I understand this, but  the Technology and Culture class does provide critical analysis about the ethical concerns of technology which are vital to understand in the tech business. Instead of zooming in on an isolated aspect of technology like other technology classes, Technology and Culture looks at it as a whole and discusses its impacts. Even though you aren’t learning about how to use specific technology, you’re learning about the world of technology and its positive and negative effects.

Another unique aspect of the class was that a large portion of it was devoted to class discussions on the issues. We were able to debate technological issues and hear the different opinions and viewpoints of others. One topic we discussed frequently was technology’s impact on our privacy and safety and whether we can truly have both. We looked at new technology such as Wikileaks and debated the question of whether or not we are willing to give up our privacy in return for security. This not only enhanced my public speaking skills but gave me a newfound appreciation for hearing the different perspectives of others.

At the end of the semester, we had the opportunity to speak with Beatrice Fabris, an employee of the company Octo-Telematics, an auto-insurance company, over Skype. By speaking to Fabris, we were able to hear first hand about the experience working for a tech company in the real world as well as see certain see certain technologies through the eyes of someone who is very knowledgeable in the area. Fabris not only knew the technical aspects of her job, she was also able to speak on certain ethical impacts and concerns of her company’s new product, proving the useful nature of the class.

I now understand that in order to be successful in the world of technology one must understand not only the technical aspects, but the social aspects as well. The class has opened my eyes to the human side of technology which is a lesson I don’t think you can learn from any other class. Taking this course has ensured that when I look at new technologies I will now consider the positive and negative impacts they will have on society. I believe this to be an invaluable lesson as in a world where more impactful technologies are being created everyday, it is important to consider the effects they will have on our society.

Therefore I implore all students to consider taking the Technology and Culture elective. It is a unique, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable experience and I am positive there is no other class at ASL quite like it. I left the class not only with a thorough knowledge of the history and impacts of technology, but with a new understanding of society as well.