The Darkside of Technology
by Nick Welsh.
I was at a get-together of techie sorts a few weeks ago and I overheard some very clever people talking about Facebook. One of them said, “Yeah, I used to use Facebook but then my 10 year old nephew started using it so I don’t bother anymore.”
I kind of thought this was a stupid thing to say. I wondered if he had stopped travelling on the bus when his little sister was old enough to start going into town with her mates on Saturday mornings? Did he stop eating spaghetti when his next-door neighbours’ son started eating it? Did he stop going swimming once the local primary school kids started using the pool?
Good technology should be a great leveller; as open and easy to use to the technically minded and the technophobic. If it isn’t, then it’s not good technology.
Jung talks about the shadow-self, or if you’re into your Star Wars, your dark side. We all have a dark side of course but some people’s seem to be darker than others. In my job I meet a lot of very very clever techie-types and I’ve found that many of them, not all, but many of them, seem to have a darker side than most.
They’re modern day magicians who seem to speak a different language to the rest of us. They usually like to keep their magic to themselves, not wanting to reveal their secrets to mere mortals who simply “wouldn’t understand”. This attitude then is their dark side coming through, their shadow-self.
I wonder what kind of world we’d be living in now if the man who wove the www, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, had had a ‘darker than usual’ dark side, if he’d kept the web to himself or sold it to the highest bidder? Perhaps the internet would have become the domain of the super-wealthy and the super- technical; people who didn’t want to share this new technology with mere mortals.
As Stephen Fry would say, “bah” and “pish” to dark-sided techno-wizardry. Let good technology be the great leveller it should be. And if there’s a techno-snob near you, remind them that we were all ‘given’ the www as a gift, snotty nosed 10 year old nephews and all.
Nick Welsh practices graphic art and web design in Cambridge, UK under the name Mono Industries. He was involved in the music programme at Greenbelt for about 100 years and now helps out with various aspects of www.greenbelt.org.uk. He lives in Cambridge with his partner Jane, his daughter Edie and an Irish Terrier called Hattie.