what is progress?

The concept of technology as linear progressive versus intersecting, I think is particularly fascinating.  Teleological as both the study of the technology itself and the way we view technology is something that I have only marginally considered.  As someone who is well versed in film studies, but newer to “new media” I think the application of both the study of the object itself as well as the theory of how we view the object is something that I find missing from a lot of film theory.  For example it is mentioned that we have used different kinds of cameras and editing overtime, but you’d have to be more of a “practical” practitioner like a professional cinematographer or editor to really consider technical changes.   Very little happens in the way of discussing the technology of the medium, more what’s on the screen, or as Patrice Flichy discusses the French habit of thinking “cinematographically”.

Questions about technology and progress then take on a more metaphysical aspect when we think of teleology.  Do we believe ideas and technology always build on what came before or do we think a lot of accidental connections and perhaps even reversals happen?  I’m inclined to think of Thomas Kuhn here and say that things progress to a certain point within a paradigm, but an overall direction and culminating knowledge of history creating a kind of destined greater technology is not a feasible.

I also wanted to point out the significant amount of space Lister et al, place in the debate between McLuhan and Williams.  I know that Lister wants us to re-examine McLuhan in light of his dismissal by the more academic media studies circuit who have heavy believers in Althusserian Marxism, who focus more on ideological structure and content.  I do think it is good to consider McLuhan, and ideas about the medium and the technology, as I said previously, are frequently missing from more traditional media debates.  I think of McLuhan as offering theories that help us examine how our thought process or cognition changes with the introduction of a different medium.

While I agree with McLuhan to a degree, that the introduction of technologies changes the way we perceive, I have to point out that McLuhan’s view on primitive cultures and visual cultures seems incredibly Western/Euro centric.  I’m not a history expert or a linguist, but I think 0ther societies writing systems did not necessary progress in the same way  that Romanized languages did, I’m specifically thinking about Asian languages here (Maybe someone can speak to that, about how different writing systems affect thought).  This seems to have a little linear progressive thinking behind it.

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