A Diverse Technology Discourse
My aim in outlining these traps of problematic styles, tactics, ideologies and unexamined positions is to illustrate how they influence our wider understanding of what technology criticism is, what it does, what its aims and audiences are, and how effective it is. If these tactics stand in for what technology criticism means to most people, how can writers reach the readers who aren’t willing to abandon their smartphones or the engineers whose livelihoods depend on the continued success of the industry?
Alexis Madrigal relates that there’s space for all tactics and approaches, that even the most problematic strategies contribute to the conversation and force the issues into the public consciousness. He advocates for a mixed-methods, intersectional approach to criticism that leaves room for all these approaches. Madrigal takes a more open stance to critical work that wants to produce change:
[You] need people who are super radical, anti-technology, anti-capitalist. You also need people inside the companies who are just barely more ethical than the next person. Also you need people who try and connect the big ideas of technology companies with the ethical standards the country at least nominally sets out for itself. You need all those different things. You need people who are completely uninterested in the ideological battles that are super into reporting the dirt on these companies. Exactly how things are going. You need all of those different components, I think, and I would just say, in my more humble moments, that I realize I’m just one lever.105
If technology criticism is to be useful, to accomplish something, then it has to acknowledge and include in it a suite of strategies, positions, approaches, and voices.