How might tech criticism fit into technology edu?


I believe many people in this thread will appreciate these two clips from a wonderful, difficult film, The Ister: first, and second (there is some missing film in between the two. It’s absolutely worth acquiring the whole film.

The urgency of relating ethics to making, engineering, technology etc., expressed by several people in this thread, is overwhelming. I’m not sure if my asking about a definition of technology is directly relevant, but I’m generally concerned when a matter is treated as self evident (not to suggest that such is the case here). An example: a student once said to me, sarcastically, “Scissors are technology!?” (we were making collage with text). My answer was “very definitely yes”. My hope was to ignite discussion about the significance/s of making by working with the material of words and corresponding ideas. I thought beyond this that there can be a kind of violence to ideas when we (encourage students to) presume, for example, that technology is e.g. things that are plugged in. I’m particularly interested in the making of equipment, i.e. what was the first equipment in the history of our species (mens et manus)? My working definition is tethered to utility. (Do we include language in technology? Are ideas technology?) . Some other questions I ask: is documentation of making different than / less than story? How can or should narrative accompany making (esp relevant if we are trying to be ethical makers)? Can a narrative accompaniment “take over”, such that a physical or code artifact is derivative ? &cetera


Hi @dalsdorf

A ‘Tool’ is technology. ‘Technology’ is a tool.

I wasn’t sure if you wanted an ontological definition of Technology or you were looking to understand how @Xanthe_Matychak uses technology within the course. Here are some resources that may help in finding your personal definition.



‘technology and the lifeworld’
'technics and praxis



The second part sounds like a question of materiality:
The material of ‘THOUGHT’ & of what is ‘MADE’ ?


Thanks - I like to cooperatively construct definitions, test how they hold up to rumination, relate to other words . . .


Ok. May I ask:

'What materials do you think with? Can We think with?

  • – ‘OUT OF REACH’ –
  • or ‘HARD TO HANDLE’?? ’

I apologize that SPACE, INTENTION, and MATERIALITY are muddled. In these questions. Human experience has barriers to TIME and LOCATION.

How might We overcome these NO-TECH REALITIES?

As ONTOLOGY, DESIGN uses DIAGRAM : : GRAPH DATA (most commonly)

Recently, COMPUTATION has been able to express DESIGN and it’s DATA with new media. The technological operationalization in PROCESS and ARTIFACT. Even beyond scripted. On to COLLABORATIVE media for INTERACTIVE design practice and process.


Hi again, the beginning of your question calls to mind “materials become media when they are mediated” (I can provide the citation if needed) - hmmm, what materials give purchase to the mind, what is mediation? It seems that you’re looking at many puzzle pieces. FWIW, I found clarity with some of these puzzle pieces through these lectures (apologies if already familiar). Not the shallow end of the pool. Enjoy

edit: this reply was intended @jpaskett - apologies to @Xanthe_Matychak for sidetracking her wonderful tech criticism thread. @Xanthe_Matychak, the material in the clips from Ister that are apropos to this thread are about the acceleration of technological evolution


Thanks, David. I hope to check out the videos over the weekend


Hi, David. I watched the Stiegler and dig what he is laying down about technics and history. Below are some thoughts.

With my course, I am responding to the speed at which technology moves things along which is very fast because the distance btwn tech ruptures is so small these days.

Fast isn’t always bad. It’s just something to be mindful of. I try to teach students to use the pause button because its a useful life skill and probably good for humanity. If we weren’t compelled to react so quickly, how much more peace would we have?

In my course, using the pause button is approached by immersion and reflection with craft. Some of the craft includes digital tech. And all of the documentation is digital.

Why do I care about the speed of technology? Because the speed of technology these days and all that it puts in motion induces major anxiety and fear and a lot of stupid tech at a massive scale that causes harm.

I get annoyed when maker education is offered simply as a celebration of technology and robots. When we do this, we end up with tech for tech’s sake and scientists working on shit like the atom bomb. Scientists and Engineers caught up in the technical challenge and getting the next DARPA grant, and not thinking about the consequences of their work on humanity.

I recognize that this is a big leap, from “pro tech edu for kiddies” to “scientists building the atom bomb,” but it’s what I believe in my heart.

On your questions about scissors and language being technology, I agree with you that scissors are technology. Modified scissors cut down the last tree on Easter Island. Scissors and steel enable agriculture 13k years ago. These were the tech ruptures that happened every few thousand years.

I appreciate your questions about documentation and story and I appreciate how Stiegler frames it as something that can be passed down to transmit knowledge. He holds up the water glass on his desk, “This wasn’t made to tell a story, but in future, it will.” Interesting.

At the end of the day, however, it’s hard to cram all of this into one course which is why, I bet, a lot of folks don’t even bother to try. I do try. It’s a tough project, a matter of making choices about what to include and what to leave out.

What are your thoughts and/or hacks on balancing theory with action within a course?


notes for a draft

When we make, we make structures of care. These are both objects/systems/structures, but also solicitude, and the structure/s (i.e., architecture) of our hosting solicitude.

So iterative engineering projects, for example, can be layered with reflective practices that draw our attention to solicitude. // I advocate drawing /sketching in addition to photographing iterations. See 2 or 3 chapters here where I elaborate. Meanwhile I’ll ruminate more on these exciting questions.

There’s an affordance in make believe / storytelling too which quite naturally draws our attention to questions of solicitude, value/s, self-identity. The challenge as I recognize it is: How do you situate making activities with the desirable attributes (wide walls, etc) in child- directed, self authored make-believe?


It’s good to be reminded of this. And the timing is right. We have a design review on Tuesday where I can check in on where the students are at, and on Thursday I can assign a reflection about solicitude.

The shelter project is a nice one. We were given something like this in graduate school: design a site-specific bus shelter. I was inspired by how we hold baby birds. Such a sweet & gentle gesture. Yet strong & effective.

I’ll check out the chapters in more depth. Thanks for sending them along.


Check out Action Research here.


Thank you for the listening material. Phenomenology is definitely a large part of my professional practice. I even named my design practice: PHENOM. In reference.

Though honestly, I am pretty full -up on philosophy. 6+ yrs of study will do that to you :wink:

I have become much more of an activist. Creating performance art as research in public areas at OSU. Using vernaculars of conscious hip-hop, and clothing to inspire others to action. By sharing the actual FEELING of inspiration and beauty. Out in the open.

I have soo much to give to others. Yet, I am mostly blacklisted in Columbus due to my Bipolar Disorder.

Not wearing the ‘uniform’ of offices. Half my days are spent in the streets with others that are also homeless. My closest friends. Street family. So I play music LOUD. Make clothing that SPEAKS.
The important messages.

All this SHATTERS stereo -types. Changes the world. This is how I disrupt through civil disobedience.

Authority figures hate me because of the success I have found. Usurps traditional structures of authoritative knowledge. WITH PROOF

Youth are inspired by my modeling of another life. One considered. Not programmed. AND I REALLY DO THE THINGS I SAY. Prolly the best out of Columbus to do it. That scares others who talk about, --not with-- experience.

Here is the model I found in your writing:



Using the elements to provide structure. The human process of Mediation happens with/in the elements as human interacts. One could then diagram the interactions. Providing a working, tech definition of mediation.

LMK if that makes sense.


Opening back up to the topic:

The original question here “How might tech crit fit…” may need some rewriting. The question is about a problem. Understanding the problem is a good place to start.

However, this conversation has turned toward solutions / responses to that question: How to teach tech in a meaningful way, beyond tech for tech’s sake?

I have a few ways that I respond to this question with my teaching as do others here: empathy, narrative, creative confidence, and more. It’s useful and it feels good to connect on these.

Another response is to integrate mindfulness with tech edu. I listened to this segment on WNYC this morning from mindfulness-in-tech-industry practitioner, Mirabai Bush. Seems to have a place here:

I plan to write a little blog post on it .Will share here when I do.


Hi again, thanks for carefully reading through what I shared on LCL. I think you’re highlighting, with Elements/Process, much of what might comprise the fulcrum to my teaching practices and related wondering.

It’s clear you have so much to give others. You’re reminding me of someone I knew in Columbus OH who also had so much to give, a brilliant mind, with a kind of impish radicalism. When he tried to work with others he would often start at such a high intellectual level that it was difficult for them to make a connection. He struggled with multiple mood disorders (for which, in his case, he didn’t generally seek treatment) and this may have increased the frustration he sometimes felt. I recall advocating that he find, through a school volunteer teaching program, a way to work with children who were less fortunate than him. I also encouraged him to limit his computer time, get regular exercise, keep a journal of what he was grateful for, and use DBT or CBT to parse what he knew for sure from what he presumed or deduced (the usual recs). Anyway, I think he would have benefited from teaching a child how to read, and working his way up in a community until he reached the level where the brilliance of his ideas could be properly recognized. But to choose how we do these things is always a personal decision. FWIW, I got into education by teaching a “homeless” kindergartener (lived in a state shelter) the difference between letters and numbers. It did more for me than it did for him, and is probably why I relate my maker-based work to the theme of human shelter. Peace


looking forward to the post and to more ideas on your original and revised questions:


Thank you for sharing that story with me. I wish that the individual finds peace and fulfillment. Before I knew of my disability I was working in Boston. At a small international startup for augmented reality medical education simulations. My role was Product Manager overseeing R&D.

It was spring and as the weather warmed I began to get sick. A severe bipolar episode. The disease ran its course untreated for 3 months. Leaving me jobless, homeless, and penniless. I knew nothing of Bipolar or that I had it.

Since then I have actually built a mental health company and application using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy – complete with a feasibility and acceptability clinical study. And the past 2 years, I have pitched this and suicide prevention at all the major innovation and ‘hack-a-thon’ events with no one joining the effort or resources provided… This happened in the MAKER COMMUNITY and SPACES.


It is absurd. Many times creative/design/maker communities call for principles in leadership. Guiding virtues. And ‘Making’. I embody the principles and actualize my making.

I am self-made and beholden to no one in that scene. Those that host these events are most interested in marketing the event and controlling buzzword hashtags. Instead of actually doing the work.

I could easily regale many more examples of the CULTURAL DEFICIT that exists in the Maker - movement and startup/hacker culture. I am disenchanted with the whole hack-a-thon/startup/maker community. While they posture for LinkedIn and SEO, I am proving the veracity of my creative work with visible models. You can see the truth in the making.

I take solace in my work. My mentor is the best in the world at what she does and keeps me grounded. With a deep understanding of the importance in my work. I plan to create the first Design PhD at OSU as my Master’s thesis.

When people are with me I bring special experiences to actualization. It’s part of the daily miracles that Design brings to my life. Design specialized in self -actualization. I am reminded everyday of this.

The main point I want to get across is the cultural deficit in the ‘Maker’/‘hack -a -thon’ community.


@jpaskett Likely you’ve already read it, but if not, I think you’d appreciate Kay Jamison’s Touched With Fire, which explores the connection between cycling mood and creativity. I recall the frontispiece is Byron’s “the mind’s canker in its savage mood”.

Back to this thread. I really want to hear the rest of the community’s thoughts on @Xanthe_Matychak’s wonderful questions. I’ve been savoring the economy of these words:


On -Being is Wonderful. Krista Tippett is awesome!


@jpaskett @dalsdorf

Our conversation here and listening to Mirabai Bush on Sunday has set me on a bit of a “mindfulness in design edu” bender.

Going to work these videos into a blog post, but will share here now just for fun. Though I have a feeling that these folks are already on your radar.

Mirabai Bush on mindfulness in edu with many, disciplinary-specific examples

Chade Meng-Tan, whom Bush mentions in her talk - she helped him start a mindfulness program at Google

My summary of Meng’s talk, here


@gulen it was nice hearing from you in the hangout today. You might enjoy this thread. I hope you will participate. Xanthe