Over-engineered

This is a blog about digital technology. I must not forget it. However insignificant digital technology may have become in my private life, I must continue to write about it, come what may. What, May? Yes, even her. Even though May is come, with all her deceitful, robotic monotony, I will not be distracted. Today is the 30th of April; I must write something before tomorrow, the 1st of May. But not about May, May is out.

Somewhat inconveniently, my digital competence is diminishing. That is, I am more aware now of what I don’t know than I was twenty years ago. This is re-assuring, however. Were it otherwise, I would be at risk of complacency. I would be sure of myself, of my way of doing things. I would be happy with what I know. As it is, I am always dissatisfied, perennially experimenting, in anticipation of new revelations. I still have the will to learn.

Happily, revelations occur, not infrequently in fact. They give great joy and sustain my enthusiasm. Largely, however, they come from classical sources, from art, music, literature, language, philosophy. Very seldom from technology, which has become monotonous in its perpetual, micro-incremental restlessness. I do not care if every millimeter of my smartphone is screen, or whether the resolution is 4K or 5K or Special K. I am engineered out, tired of ever more pointless technical sophistication, of ephemeral social media gimmickry masquerading as human interaction, of stifling, mechanistic business processes, above all of the insistence on digital competence as an index of professionalism.

I once successfully taught a group of Polish academics in a hotel bedroom equipped with not a trace of ICT, not even chalk. How was this possible? Well, because we were focused exclusively on and trusted each other, we drank at the well of motivation and nourished ourselves with satirical humour. We questioned everything we were told and did as we thought best for our common purpose. Such technology as we had – pen, paper, scissors and glue if I’m not mistaken – was at our service, anciliary … and worked. No training was required, no time was wasted in using it.

In its place technology is wonderful, because it enables us to fashion new ideas and realities, new ways of being in the world. Our world currently having become de-railed, there was never a better time to re-assess technology, to re-appropriate it according to our individual wills, to make it personally relevant and empowering. Otherwise, in the words and music of Maria Pierantoni Giua, our affair with the digital may become a Disamore infinito.

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