John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

What is technology?

        Heidegger says, “The essence of technology, as a destining of revealing, is the danger.“  “The rule of Enframing threatens man with the possibility that it could be denied to him to enter into a more original revealing and hence to experience the call of a more primal truth, (The Question Concerning Technology, p. 23)."  I take this as technology merely being the vehicle or catalyst that reveals human beings true primal nature.  He is not talking about lethal machines or software that is being created that will destroy mankind.  He is referring to the nature of man and how man’s primal instincts influence other worldly objects.  For example, he uses the example of “save” were it means "only to seize hold of a thing threatened by ruin, in order to secure it its former continuance, (The Question Concerning Technology, p. 28)."  So an example of this would be would be saving a document in Microsoft Word, which was designed by a human being with the pretence of, “I had better save this document because if I don’t, then I will lose it!”  Heidegger uses this as an example of man’s destructive primal nature being expressed in creation of an object, and in this example it was the design of the “save” option in the Word processing software. 


        I am not sure how we can apply this philosophy to an issue today in emerging media unless we look at it from not bad or good, but from the viewpoint of creating and using technology as a tool to do so.  If we look at Facebook, it is a superb example of a social media platform used to share and connect other moments in a person’s life.  Facebook is a great example of how technology can help to bring people closer together and connect with long lost friends or family members.  On the other hand, the issue of privacy comes up not in the sense that Facebook is a bad or prying piece of technology, it is the question of how man has developed a platform like Facebook to reveal private events in people’s lives.  So it is man’s desire to not be alone and wanting to connect with other people while sharing private matters with others. 
        What we can take away from this example is man’s basic primal need to be socially engaged with other people and that according to Heidegger “revealing that brings forth truth” is mankind’s ever lasting journey to explore and find out more about him or herself as a species.  Twitter is another great example of how technology emulates the primal desires of a person.  People will send Tweets about almost anything from “hey I am at the gym exercising” or “doing laundry” are a couple of examples.   A practical application for this was in Egypt when the government shutdown the internet and no one could communicate except for a couple of ways. 

        Google offered a solution called “call to tweet” were people in Egypt would call a number, then leave a voice message which was then converted into a Tweet.  This message was then broadcasted out to the world on the Twitter network where people could find out what was taking place inside of Egypt.  If we look at this situation from Heidegger’s philosophy it is not technology which is in question, but the desire for human beings to be free and have their voices be heard. Heidegger says “Quite to the contrary, when we once open ourselves expressly to the essence of technology, we find ourselves unexpectedly taken into a freeing claim” (The Question Concerning Technology, p. 26).  People create different tools so that they can embrace their own identities and express themselves.   I have used Facebook and Twitter as two prime examples of how Heidegger’s philosophy is used and expressed in modern day technology.             
        In conclusion, I would have never thought of looking at technology or modern day technology from Heidegger’s point of view.

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