[Paleopsych] Hedgehog: Felicia Wu Song: Towards a Working Perspective of Technology: A Bibliographic Essay

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Felicia Wu Song: Towards a Working Perspective of Technology: A 
Bibliographic Essay
The Hedgehog Review - Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture

          Felicia Wu Song is a doctoral candidate in the Department of
    Sociology at the University of Virginia and a Dissertation Fellow at
    the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. She is currently
    working on her dissertation, which focuses on how Internet technology
    influences the shape of American public life by mediating and
    reframing our conceptions of community, intimacy, and the self.

          For many Americans, technology is mysterious. Despite the fact
    that technologies of all sorts impact almost every aspect of our daily
    lives, we continue to function with relatively uninformed conceptions
    of technology. We usually don't know or understand the technical
    mechanics of the technologies that we enjoy. When we purchase
    technologies such as computers, we have a vague sense that the
    computer may affect our family life, our friendships, the ways we
    work, and the development of our children, but we don't know much
    beyond that.

          In the past two to three decades, there has been a proliferation
    of works concerning technology and its effects on various spheres of
    society. It is now common to find books and conferences on technology
    and democracy, technology and gender, technology and the workplace,
    technology and religion, technology and education, technology and
    community, technology and literature, just to name a few. While this
    growing literature is extremely helpful in examining the ways that
    existing social institutions and cultural practices are challenged and
    reshaped by new technological developments, these texts are often
    thinly veiled normative arguments about how democracy, education, or
    communities ought to be, rather than works that clarify the nature of
    technology and how it "works" in society. These texts are crucial to
    the development of a robust public discourse about our technologies,
    but they often fail to provide a broader framework from which
    individuals can engage and assess technologies. Many questions that
    need to be addressed remain unanswered: What is technology? How does
    it relate to individual action and social order? Is technology an
    autonomous force that determines history? Or can it be resisted? How
    does a new technology shift from being the stuff of science fiction to
    becoming a part of our everyday worlds, even shaping our sense of
    reality? Is our society prone to develop or use particular kinds of
    technologies over others? Are there certain types of technologies that
    are better than others for living the "good life"? Do technologies
    tend to reinforce or break down power structures?

          The need for a more sophisticated and constructive understanding
    of technology is apparent as contemporary developments in
    biotechnology, nanotechnology, psychopharmacology, and computer
    technology seem to outpace our legal, social, and cultural
    institutions' abilities to guide and manage these developments. With
    each new technological advance, it becomes clearer that the existing
    public discourse on technology is lacking a language for discussing
    and engaging our technologies in meaningful ways.

          Despite the fact that the amount of thoughtful and creative
    scholarship on technology has been growing in the traditional
    disciplines of history, sociology, and philosophy (and in newer fields
    such as communications, media ecology, cultural studies, and science
    and technology studies), it is an area of literature that continues to
    be surprisingly unrecognized and underutilized in America. The works
    cited in this bibliographic essay contribute to the important task of
    moving beyond either an uncritical acceptance of technologies or vague
    feelings of helplessness. They are also useful for challenging the
    common notion that technology is merely a tool, having no social or
    cultural significance, by revealing the ways that technology is
    integrally bound up in social institutions, morality, power
    structures, cultural practices, and the creativity of its users. While
    the literature on technology is vast, this bibliographic essay aims to
    provide a basic typology of the technology literature, highlighting
    the dominant approaches and main areas of study, that will help
    readers move towards constructing a language or framework that is
    capable of meaningfully engaging the technologies of our times.

Early Perspectives on Technology

          Fascination and enthusiasm are what usually greet new
    technologies in American society. Much like the faith that Western
    civilization has had in modern science, the optimism and excitement
    that is commonly expressed for technologies can be traced back to the
    belief in Progress that characterized eighteenth-century Enlightenment
    thinking. Thinkers like Voltaire and Condorcet believed that science
    and technology were ultimately the keys to achieving the perfection of
    the human race, empowering people with the fruits of rational
    knowledge and the development of means to fulfill material needs.
    Technologies often played a large role in utopian visions, eliminating
    social inequality and ensuring political freedom for all.

          While the notion that technology both symbolized and guaranteed
    progress sprung from the Enlightenment in Europe, it quickly became
    integrally bound up in the fledgling culture of the newly established
    United States of America. With prolific inventors such as Benjamin
    Franklin and Thomas Jefferson among the nation's leaders, technology
    was truly regarded as a means to humanity's steady moral, social,
    political, and material betterment. Progress was considered
    inevitable, and technology would be the means of achieving it. In the
    nineteenth century, not only did Americans celebrate technologies such
    as railroads, steamboats, and industrial machinery, for the
    unprecedented prosperity that they brought to the American economy,
    but Americans also were awed by and even revered the sheer power and
    grandeur of technologies, dazzled by what historians have come to call
    the "technological sublime." This unwavering faith in technologies
    characterized the popular American sentiment, leading many to believe
    that American success was as inevitable as the progress that
    technology would bring.

          Because this conception of technology as progress has so
    dominated the American perspective, much of the contemporary
    scholarship on technology sees this idea as a point of departure. Many
    of the following books offer the necessary historical context for
    understanding present-day technological utopianism. Merritt Roe Smith
    and Leo Marx's Does Technology Drive History?, Howard Segal's
    Technological Utopianism in American Culture, and Daniel Czitrom's
    Media and the American Mind provide especially excellent historical
    and theoretical overviews of America's love for technology.
    Boorstin, Daniel. The Image or What Happened to the American Dream.
        New York: Atheneum, 1962.
        Corn, Joseph J., ed. Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology, and
        the American Future. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986.
        Czitrom, Daniel J. Media and the American Mind: From Morse to
        McLuhan. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982.
        Kasson, John F. Civilizing the Machine: Technology and Republican
        Values in America, 1776-1900. New York: Penguin, 1976.
        Lasch, Christopher. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its
        Critics. New York: Norton, 1991.
        Marvin, Carolyn. When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking about
        Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century. New York:
        Oxford University Press, 1988.
        Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral
        Ideal in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
        Nye, David E. American Technological Sublime. Cambridge, MA: MIT
        Press, 1994.
        Segal, Howard P. Technological Utopianism in American Culture.
        Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985.
        Smith, Merritt Roe, and Leo Marx. Does Technology Drive History?:
        The Dilemma of Technological Determinism. Cambridge, MA: MIT
        Press, 1994.
        Staudenmaier, John M., S.J. Technology's Storytellers: Reweaving
        the Human Fabric. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985.

Theoretical Perspectives on Technology and Society

          Understanding technological change in contemporary society is
    one of the dominant areas of research and theoretical work being done
    in the historical and sociological scholarship on technology. The
    primary questions beings asked are: What is the relationship between
    technology and society? Does technology drive history and social
    change? Or, does society determine the technology that it produces?
    While earlier accounts of technology focused primarily on recording
    the nuts-and-bolts development or engineering of technology, what
    dominates analyses now is the effect that technology and society have
    on each other. Two perspectives, technological determinism and social
    constructivism, are the main points of departure for the majority of
    the literature.

Technological Determinism: Technology's Effect on Society

          The approach of technological determinism views technology as a
    powerful and autonomous force that changes history and social order.
    This perspective is present in most histories that argue that
    technologies were responsible for such enormous historical shifts in
    human history as the Industrial Revolution, the Protestant
    Reformation, and the period of Post-Industrialism. According to
    technological determinists, the realms of technology and society are
    understood to be distinct spheres--the active sphere of technology and
    the passive sphere of society. This passivity was perhaps best summed
    up in the motto for the code 1933 /code Chicago "Century of Progress"
    World Fair: "Science Finds. Industry Applies. Man Conforms." While
    technology is understood as a natural by-product of the quest for
    scientific knowledge, it is understood to be autonomous. Once created,
    it seems to have a "life of its own" with consequences that its
    inventor or engineer could never have foreseen.

          Another characteristic of the technological determinist
    perspective is that technology itself--its medium, the technical form
    and features--is the source of social change. An outgrowth of this
    view is commonly found in media analysis, such as that of Neil
    Postman, Harold Innis, and Marshall McLuhan. Their accounts argue that
    different media have different "biases," which determine not only
    different ways of thinking and perceiving the world, but also
    different types of civilizations. Strong forms of technological
    determinism will point to the use of papyrus to explain the fall of
    the Roman Empire or to the printing press to explain the rise of
    rational thinking and reason. An example of weaker forms of
    technological determinism, Joshua Meyrowitz's book, No Sense of Place,
    shows how the medium of television altered the boundaries of private
    and public life in American society by bringing political culture and
    public life into the living rooms of Americans.

          Present in both optimistic and pessimistic evaluations of
    technology, tendencies towards technological determinism can be found
    equally in McLuhan's vision of the global village made possible by
    electronic technologies and in Jacques Ellul's concern for the
    technologizing (and, thus, rationalizing) of all domains of life.
    Despite the implicit characterization of human beings and institutions
    as passive, technological determinism accurately captures the idea of
    unintended consequences, and how deeply they can affect the most
    fundamental aspects of our lived reality.
    Beniger, James R. The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic
        Origins of the Information Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
        University Press, 1986.
        Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern
        Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
        Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society. New York: Knopf, 1964.
        Innis, Harold A. Empire and Communication. Toronto: University of
        Toronto Press, 1972.
        McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New
        York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.
        Meyrowitz, Joshua. No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic
        Media on Social Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.
        Mumford, Lewis. Technics and Civilization. New York: Harcourt,
        Brace & World, 1963.
        Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word.
        New York: Methuen, 1982.
        Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death. New York: Viking, 1985.
        Tenner, Edward. Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge
        of Unintended Consequences. New York: Vintage, 1996.
        White, Lynn, Jr. Medieval Technology and Social Change. New York:
        Oxford University Press, 1962.

Social Constructivism: Society over Technology

          In response to the tendencies of scholarship towards
    technological determinism, the social construction of technology
    approach was begun in the mid-eighties by sociologists Wiebe Bijker
    and Trevor Pinch. Drawing from the theoretical work done in the
    sociology of science, where assumed notions of postivism and
    scientific inevitability were sufficiently challenged, the social
    constructivist perspective sought similarly to reveal the levels of
    contingency and human agency involved in the innovation process of
    technology. By showing the ways that the design and use of
    technologies are very much products of particular social and cultural
    contexts, embedded with pre-existing cultural assumptions and meanings
    from their inception to their institutionalization, agency is restored
    to society as the producer of technology. No longer is technology
    "autonomous"; rather it is shown to be the natural outcome of our
    socio-cultural realities.

          While social constructivism adequately addresses an important
    blindspot of technological determinism, it still persists in
    analytically separating technology from society, theoretically
    implying a dichotomy that does not substantively exist. Alternative
    models have emerged out of the social constructivist project to
    address this problem, one of which is Thomas Hughes' systems approach,
    viewing technologies not as individual artifacts, but as entire
    constellations or systems in which social and technical aspects
    interact together. Similarly, Bruno Latour's actor-network theory
    works with the metaphor of technology as interconnecting networks that
    link human beings and non-human entities together, conveying the
    mutually constitutive nature of technology and society. Historian Ruth
    Schwartz Cowan's essay in Social Construction of Technological Systems
    suggests that much can be gained from examining a technology at the
    point at which it is being considered by a consumer making choices
    between competing technologies. She argues that by analyzing
    technological change from the user's perspective, there is theoretical
    room for a dialectical relationship between the constructivist view of
    technology and the deterministic one.
    Bijker, Wiebe, Thomas Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, eds. Social
        Construction of Technological Systems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
        1987. Especially Ruth Schwartz Cowan's "The Consumption Junction:
        A Proposal for Research Strategies in the Sociology of
        Bijker, Wiebe, and J. Law, eds. Shaping Technology/Building
        Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT
        Press, 1992. Especially Bruno Latour's "Where Are the Missing
        Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts."
        Hughes, Thomas. Networks of Power: Electrification in Western
        Society, 1880-1930. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
        Law, John, ed. A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power,
        Technology and Domination. London: Routledge, 1991.
        MacKenzie, Donald. Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of
        Nuclear Missile Guidance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.
        MacKenzie, Donald, and Judy Wajcman, eds. Social Shaping of
        Technology: How the Refrigerator Got Its Hum. Milton Keys: Open
        University Press, 1985.
        Meikle, Jeffrey. American Plastic: A Cultural History. New
        Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
        Nye, David. Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New
        Technology, 1880-1940. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.
        Winston, Brian. Misunderstanding Media. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
        University Press, 1986.

Philosophy of Technology

          While historical and sociological debates between technological
    determinism and social constructivism concern the relationship between
    technology and society, questions about the actual nature of
    technology and the resulting lifeworld that is shaped by it motivate a
    distinctly philosophical literature on technology. Drawing from a rich
    European tradition of exploring technological issues, many
    philosophers of technology explore the logic and nature of technology
    itself and consider its significance and meaning in our experience of
    life. The works of Heidegger, Gehlen, and Berger best reflect the
    German philosophical tradition that rejects the instrumental notion of
    technology (as being merely a means to an end) and conceptualizes
    technology as a way of viewing the world and its objects. As a result,
    the socio-psychological consequences of the technologized life are
    primary areas of focus. How are our "technologically textured" lives
    different from the lives of previous generations? What is the role of
    technology in our pursuit of the good life, individually and
    communally? According to Albert Borgmann's theory of technology, while
    there are particular goals and needs that technology can be expected
    to fulfill, our lives include particular practices and things that are
    better off being directly engaged without technological mediation.
    Similarly, Erik Parens' edited volume, Enhancing Human Traits,
    problematizes the common notion that technology enhances our lives.
    What constitutes enhancement? And what are the ethics for using
    technologies to enhance our lives? While the European line of
    philosophical inquiry dominates much of the field, Carl Mitcham's
    Thinking through Technology offers a thorough survey and discussion of
    the various philosophical perspectives on technology. Lesser known
    traditions include the philosophy of technology that stems from
    American philosopher John Dewey's critique of technology. Larry
    Hickman's and Hans Joas' works are representative of pragmatist
    inquiries into the role of public life and values in the construction
    and use of technologies.
    Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. 2^nd ed. Chicago: The University
        of Chicago Press, 1998.
        Berger, Peter L., Brigitte Berger, and Hansfried Keller. The
        Homeless Mind: Modernization and Consciousness. New York: Vintage,
        Borgmann, Albert. Technology and the Character of Contemporary
        Life: A Philosophical Inquiry. Chicago: The University of Chicago
        Press, 1984.
        Feenberg, Andrew. Questioning Technology. London: Routledge, 1999.
        Gehlen, Arnold. Man in the Age of Technology. New York: Columbia
        University Press, 1980.
        Habermas, Jürgen. Toward A Rational Society. Boston: Beacon, 1968.
        Heidegger, Martin. The Question Concerning Technology. New York:
        Harper & Row, 1977.
        Hickman, Larry A. Philosophical Tools of Technological Culture:
        Putting Pragmatism to Work. Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
        code 2001 /code .
        Higgs, Eric, Andrew Light, and David Strong. Technology and the
        Good Life? Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.
        Ihde, Don. Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth.
        Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
        Mitcham, Carl. Thinking through Technology: The Path between
        Engineering and Philosophy. Chicago: The University of Chicago
        Press, 1994.
        ----, and Robert Mackey, eds. Philosophy and Technology: Readings
        in the Philosophical Problems of Technology. New York: Free, 1972.
        Pacey, Arnold. Meaning in Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
        Parens, Erik, ed. Enhancing Human Traits: Ethical and Social
        Implications. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1998.
        Winner, Langdon. Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as
        a Theme in Political Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977.

Technology and Power

          Coming to grips with how technological change is integrally
    wrapped up in issues of power and politics was a major area of concern
    for scholars and thinkers of the twentieth century. In literature,
    George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World are perhaps
    the most well known explorations into the ways that technology can be
    used coercively by totalitarian governments to enforce social control.
    Herbert Marcuse's seminal work, One Dimensional Man, has been a point
    of departure for more recent scholarship by critical theorists Douglas
    Kellner and Andrew Feenberg, who grapple with the ways that particular
    understandings of technology mask political powers that are in fact
    being exercised. Other scholars such as Langdon Winner have sought to
    show the inadequacy of the idea of scientific or technological
    inevitability commonly expressed in our culture and to argue for a
    conception of technology as a political artifact that implicitly leads
    to distinct types of social orders, benefiting particular institutions
    and groups of people. Concerns about who will decide how technologies
    are implemented and distributed are raised in the respective works of
    Lawrence Lessig and Lori Andrews, as they document the extent to which
    market forces and tendencies of commodification increasingly shape the
    development of Internet technologies and biotechnologies. As a whole,
    these works play an important role in examining how technologies are
    institutionalized in ways that maintain or exacerbate existing power
    structures, raising difficult questions about what resources are
    available in our social institutions to protect the vulnerable and the
    weak from exploitation.
    Andrews, Lori, and Dorothy Nelkin. Body Bazaar: The Market for Human
        Tissue in the Biotechnology Age. New York: Crown, code 2001 /code
        Feenberg, Andrew, and Alastair Hannay, eds. Technology and the
        Politics of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
        Kellner, Douglas. Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity and
        Politics between the Modern and the Postmodern. New York:
        Routledge, 1995.
        Lessig, Lawrence. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in
        a Connected World. New York: Random House, code 2001 /code .
        Marcuse, Herbert. One Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of
        Advanced Industrial Society. Boston: Beacon, 1964.
        Noble, David F. America by Design: Science, Technology, and the
        Rise of Corporate Capitalism. New York: Knopf, 1977.
        Robins, Kevin, and Frank Webster. Time of the Technoculture: From
        the Information Society to the Virtual Life. London: Routledge,
        Williams, Raymond. Television: Technology and Culture Form. New
        York: Schocken, 1975.
        Winner, Langdon. The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in
        an Age of High Technology. Chicago: The University of Chicago
        Press, 1987.

Technology and Feminism

          Feminist scholarship on technology generally falls into two
    stages. Early gender and technology issues frequently concerned the
    impact of technology on the everyday lives of women, whether focusing
    on computer technology in the workplace, technology in the domestic
    setting, or reproductive technology. In analyzing the trends towards
    deskilling, cheapened labor, increased domestic work, or the
    re-conceptualizations of women's reproduction and sexuality, these
    early approaches to technology and women focused on the ways that
    technologies were designed and produced by men, thus shaped by
    patriarchal values and interests in maintaining inequality and in
    exploiting women's bodies.

          These essentialist assertions have since received much criticism
    by those feminists who argue that technologies cannot be inherently
    gendered and that they are ultimately socially constructed artifacts
    that can be redirected to serve women's ends. Reflective of these
    broader shifts in the feminist movement, technologies are now often
    explored as a means of deconstructing gender, identity, and even human
    being, as seen in the works of Donna Haraway, Allucquere Rosanne
    Stone, and others who examine the social and political implications of
    cyberculture for women. In conjunction with these explorations into
    technology's impact on gender, an emerging literature is developing on
    how women are appropriating technologies to fight against
    institutional discrimination by networking on-line to improve the
    conditions of women worldwide.
    Cockburn, Cynthia, and Susan Ormrod. Gender and Technology in the
        Making. London: Sage, 1993.
        Cowan, Ruth. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household
        Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. New York: Basic,
        Cutting Edge: The Women's Research Group, ed. Desire by Design:
        Body, Territories and New Technologies. London: Tauris, 1999.
        Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of
        Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.
        Harcourt, Wendy, ed. Women at Internet: Creating New Cultures in
        Cyberspace. London: Zed, 1999.
        Harding, Sandra, ed. Perspectives on Gender and Science. Brighton:
        Falmer, 1986.
        Keller, Evelyn Fox, and Helen E. Longino. Feminism and Science.
        Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
        Rothman, Barbara Katz. Recreating Motherhood: Ideology and
        Technology in a Patriarchal Society. New York: Norton, 1989.
        Rothschild, Joan, ed. Machina Ex Dea. New York: Pergamon, 1983.
        Star, Susan Leigh, ed. The Cultures of Computing. Oxford:
        Blackwell, 1995.
        Stone, Allucquere Rosanne. The War of Desire and Technology at the
        Close of the Mechanical Age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995.
        Wajcman, Judy. Feminism Confronts Technology. Cambridge: Polity,

Technology and Its Discourse

          The task of understanding and assessing technology is often
    complicated by the fact that so much hype and debate often surround
    the technologies that we use. Deciphering whether scholars and pundits
    are reacting to technology or the surrounding rhetoric is not always
    an easy task, for the discursive aspects of technology in our culture
    play a significant role in making technologies what they are.
    Separating out the myths and rhetoric that shape the ways that
    technologies are used and understood from the technology itself is a
    crucial task that has been taken up by various scholars in different
    areas ranging from the Internet to genetics. Understanding the effects
    of marketing, the use of metaphors of technology, and the roles that
    the scientific community plays in shaping our understanding of
    technology sheds light on the fundamental characteristics and values
    of contemporary American culture. Each of the following works explore
    and reveal the ways that technologies are mythologized, their
    capacities exaggerated and ultimately made sacred by language and
    Carey, James W., ed. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and
        Society. New York: Routledge, 1992.
        Hubbard, Ruth, and Elijah Wald. Exploding the Gene Myth: How
        Genetic Information is Produced and Manipulated by Scientists,
        Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators, and Law
        Enforcers. Boston: Beacon, 1993.
        Merchant, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for
        Modernity, 1920-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press,
        Herman, Andrew, and Thomas Swiss, eds. The World Wide Web and
        Contemporary Cultural Theory. New York: Routledge, 2000.
        Ross, Andrew. Strange Weather: Culture, Science, and Technology in
        the Age of Limits. London: Verso, 1991.
        Slack, Jennifer D., and Fred Fejes, eds. The Ideology of the
        Information Age. Norwood: Ablex, 1987.
        Stivers, Richard. Technology as Magic: The Triumph of the
        Irrational. New York: Continuum, 1999.
        Woodward, Kathleen, ed. The Myths of Information: Technology and
        Postindustrial Culture. London: Routledge/Kegan Paul, 1980.

Technology and Postmodernism

          While science and technology may be rightly identified with the
    project of modernity, it might be just as fair to view contemporary
    technologies as the very tools that are, ironically, dismantling the
    assumptions of modernism and ushering in the realities of
    postmodernism. While the claims of postmodernism may seem abstract and
    distant to the person on the street, Kenneth Gergen's and Sherry
    Turkle's works show that the experiences of constructing multiple
    identities or gender-bending in cyberspace directly challenge the
    essentialist notions of identity and gender. As the technology of
    virtual reality poses serious questions about the ontological status
    of reality, and cutting-edge biotechnologies and artificial
    intelligence hint at the possibilities of a "posthuman era," it
    becomes clear that many of the borrowed premises of our social and
    political order are increasingly fragile and perhaps even meaningless.
    George Landow's and Richard Lanham's explorations into the
    implications of computer hypertext (that is, blocks of text linked
    electronically in an open-ended network) for our conceptualization of
    knowledge throw into question long-held assumptions about reason and
    rationality. Whether these technologies actually represent the start
    of a new reality and new age remains to be seen. However, considering
    the fact that technology has always been the symbol of progress, it
    should come as no surprise then that technologies today are regarded
    as liberatory agents from modernist frameworks of meaning and reality.
    Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of
        Michigan Press, 1994.
        Borgmann, Albert. Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Chicago: The
        University of Chicago Press, 1992.
        Carter, Steven. Leopards in the Temple: Studies in American
        Popular Culture. ^2nd ed. San Francisco: International Scholars,
        Gergen, Kenneth J. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in
        Contemporary Life. New York: Basic, 1991.
        Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in
        Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: The University
        of Chicago Press, 1999.
        Landow, George P. Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of the
        Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore: Johns
        Hopkins University Press, 1997.
        Lanham, Richard. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and
        the Arts. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992.
        Lévy, Pierre. Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age. New
        York: Plenum, 1998.
        Penley, Constance, and Andrew Ross, eds. Technoculture.
        Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.
        Poster, Mark. What's the Matter with the Internet? Minneapolis:
        University of Minnesota Press, code 2001 /code .
        Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the
        Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

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