Thursday, September 02, 2010

Juxtapositioning technology with heart

Summarising Latour (1996), maintaining something requires active work on the relationships that hold it so, while at the same time a turning down of other possibilities.
Similarly for a change in the order of things, this requires betrayal of those previously held relationships to be seduced into new ones. (Or at least for the making space for newer ones)

Today I have been reading Latour's wriitng on Macchiavelli's The Prince, while concurrently listening to a TEDtalk by His holiness the Karmapa: The technology of the heart.
(This truly is the oddest juxtopositioning i have ever engaged in)

He talks of the bombing of the Bamyan Buddhas with a startling re-frame: the bombings have drawn people together.
In tearing down, there is a building up, one he equates with pulling down of the Berlin wall.
An act of destruction draws others together. With differences of tradition and tragedy, the depletion of matter, some solid substance disintegrating, a divide that keeps two kinds of people apart had collapsed and opened a door for further communication.

And advice from his holiness:
In climbing trees we risk damaging the tree's roots
We need knowledge of what is going on under the tree.
Whatever work you are doing now to try to benefit the world, sink into that.
We often miss the subtle changes, we develop grand concepts of happiness, but if we pay attention there are little symbols of happiness in every breath we take.
Take a moment to appreciate fortunes of coming together, and an aspiration then to take the good and the positivity that comes with that and to spread this to all the corners of the world.

From Latour
“the burning desire to have new entities detected, welcomed and given shelter is not only legitimate, it’s probably the only scientific and political cause worth living for” (Latour, 2005: 259).

And if i take the technical as Urula Franklin does,(the way we do things round here) as process rather than object. Then the technology of the heart espoused by his holiness makes some sense.
It is about the way we do things round here, with moral purpose, and with the knowledge of the myriad of things that make being, an understanding of and a respect for not damaging these.
Making some meaning that is engaging of hope.
Or as Peter Sloterdijk suggests designing spaces for being that are nurturing.

Relevant readings and references
Franklin, U. (1999). The real world of technology. Toronto, Canada: House of Anansi Press.
Latour, B. (1988). How to write 'The Prince' for machines as well as for machinations
Latour, B. (1996). Aramis: Or the love of technology. Cambridge,MA: Harvard University Press.
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. Oxford, England, Oxford University Press.
Latour, B. and P. Sloterdijk (2009, 17 February). "Networks and Spheres: Two Ways to Reinterpret Globalization " Harvard University. Retrieved March 3, 2009. from
Machiavelli, N. (1998). The Prince, Retrieved August 19, 2010, from Project Gutenberg, (Original work published 1532).


  1. Have you ever wondered what attracted you in a new iPad, new smartphone, or any other modern gadget? Was it its fascinating technology or its simplicity of design? Design has become an essential communication tool and it's hard to imaging new technology without it. this page