Where is the Art in Technology Today?

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At one time you could think of technology as tools and techniques we use to improve our condition. Today most of us will never encounter the massive super-complex western technologies that control our environment. However, most of us cannot escape using the “smart” phone and the computer. Communication is high on everyone’s agenda.

For those of us who belong to the quite elderly generation, these devices are quite disrespectful of physical conditions like failing eyesight and slowing down of motor responses. Don’t even mention the need for an orderly, consistent presentation; the value of simplification; and the terror of constant, unwanted notifications. How we remember the days when technology was an art and we could sometime communicate with the beautiful talking drums. That way we had technology and art.

Our friends say, “Oh, let the children handle the technology”, but what about when the children and even the grandchildren are not around? Moreover, we don’t want our people to be nervous wrecks like all the people we see walking with hands full of phones and other devices. They are dropping them – even in water, losing them, and even abandoning them to go and buy new ones when the others stop working.

Cell phones are a curse and a blessing. People, from farmers in remote areas to office staff in Monrovia cannot use the device without untold stress. And both need it to communicate with distant family members and to handle critical business transactions.

Since we, the post-war Liberians, must focus on the positive and uplifting, we don’t have the luxury of including the ugly, dangerous and destructive in our definition of “art”. So the sad truth is that western technology is not art.

If you talk to a sincere and truthful technology expert, you will learn that the goal of western technology is big profits for the manufacturers and their partners at the tremendous expense of the consumer. Big profits engender shoddy workmanship not quality or artful beauty. As writer, Marimba Ani, has said, “It is a technology of exploitation”.

We ask, “What would modern technology be like if it had followed the path of quality, integrity – and art”?

Liberia Holds the Key

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