For how much I use technology, I sure do not know anything about it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can use technology and am the owner of a lot of different devices. But when it comes to knowing the components that make up each of my devices or how these devices come to be, I like most people, are clueless.
With that being said, this week was an awesome learning experience for me. From all of my research, work, and class discussions conducted over the week, I have gained a new found understanding about the components that make up our devices and our digital culture. When I think of a device I use commonly, say my iPhone, I have never really thought of how it was made. Playing the game at the very start of this week and reading the article associated with the game was a real eye opener for me. The cruelties and exploitation that go into making the devices our society pines for so badly was unbelievable to read but also hit close to home. We as a society can read of these atrocities and say how terrible they are, but at the end of the day, we as consumers play a role in these atrocities.
Overall, this week has made me realize how intertwined technology is with our society. To me, technology reflects society. This realization really became apparent when it came to taking apart my device. The device I used for this project was an old Polaroid camera. By constructing the lived history of my own device, I was forced to look at the lived history of cameras in general. Polaroid cameras have been around for years. In the past, they were originally replaced by more modern technologically advanced digital cameras. These digital cameras, unlike their Polaroid ancestors, were much more easily transportable, could hold and take more photos, and were much cheaper. These digital cameras were favored by society because they represented easy accessibility and high quality that we wanted so badly. And overtime, technology evolved to meet this “need” even more as cameras started appearing in our phones, and people ditched digitalized pictures all together. Funny enough, we have come full circle and these ancient Polaroid cameras seem to be making their comeback, with a few modern technological twists of course.
I think the history of cameras, and the return of the Polaroid that I focused on so much for my Object Lesson, fit perfectly with what I read and learned about this week. We as a society of consumers are constantly seeking things the next best thing, and technology and our digital society reflects this. As companies work to meet the needs of the consumers, it creates a ripple that starts at the beginnings. Companies have to get the means to make products somehow, and that often comes at the hands of slavery and exploitation. The higher the demand from consumers, the more exploitation that takes place. Furthermore, with the need to have the next best thing, we go through devices and technology so frivolously we are starting to see environmental changes. E waste is at an all-time high and recycling devices is bringing its fair share of issues. US states are shipping its e waste to other countries to get rid of it, which is causing health and environmental problems elsewhere. I can clearly see that we as a society need to take more responsibility in the digital culture we have created. We need to realize the effects our demands have on society and put pressure of companies to act ethically. We need to educate ourselves on the effects of e waste on our health and environment and how to properly recycle our old devices. These are all things I have learned this week and I think for that it was a very eye opening, but education week.