Saturday, September 03, 2011

An iPhoned Worldview

I'm a big fan of philosopher James K.A. Smith. Smith's Thinking in Tongues is the best book I've read in 2011.

Smith's blog is called Fors Clavigera. He posts occasionally. His recent post is The iPhone-ization of our World(view).

"Every technology is attended by a mode of bodily practice." Imagine this. John has never texted on his phone. So, he has trouble, and is slow, when texting. But over time John morphs into a slick, quick, "thoughtless" texter. John's newly acquired ability to text without trying is because his physical brain has formed new neural connections. And so John is a transformed person. This new technology results in a new mode of bodily practice.

Smith writes: "Apple has long understood the bodily nature of this interface. In this respect, we already take for granted how revolutionary the touch screen is: it is a new, differently-tactile mode of bodily interface."

A "micropractice" like texting has macro effects. Smith writes: "what might appear to be inconsequential micro habits are, in fact, disciplinary formations that begin to reconfigure our relation to the wider world--indeed, they begin to make that world. As Bourdieu puts it in The Logic of Practice, "The cunning of pedagogic reason lies precisely in the fact that it manages to extort what is essential while seeming to demand the insignificant" (p. 69)."

Interfacing with one's iPhone provides a micro-training "that subtly and unconsciously trains us to treat the world as "available" to me, and at my disposal--to be selected, scaled, scanned, tapped, and enjoyed." The micro-practices of technology create macro-physical ways of being, which are signs of neuro-morphing. Thus deep structural changes are effected.