A History of Technology through Film
YouTube Playlist of Films for this session;
Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony +++ (Boyle, Boyce, Jennings)
Main films I used;
Brazil; Terry Gilliam
Why? Set “somewhere in the twentieth century” this is a film designed to reinvigorate the myth of Orwell’s 1984 and was filmed in 1984. Terry Gilliam said he would come and talk to my students about it
2. RoboCop Paul Verhoeven
Why? About the privatization of the City (Detroit) using technology. I used it when Thatcher was trying to privatise the Welfare State. The back story of RoboCop is the privatization of the Police Force in Detroit. Features Robots and Cyborgs and always enthralled students
3. Koyaanisqatsi XXX & Philip Glass
Why? A silent movie with a vigorous soundtrack which shows the Environmental Impact of Technology with a timeline from Nature to Cities to Wasteland in Space… Introduced Big History (from the beginning of time) to the “end of civilisation (always worked with my students)
4. Until The End of the World Wim Wenders (German film maker influenced by French New Wave e.g. Kings of the Road)
Why? The ONLY film that shows the Technology Innovation Process (4i’s) as I taught it, the only film tracing the arc of a technology from Idea to Impact.
Films I would use now
The Man With The Movie Camera (the Industrial Revolution in 9 minutes)
Brassed Off; Piece Hall Halifax – the Lunar Men Jenny Uglow
I Giant Leap My Culture…
I taught Politics, Political Science 101 and then Political Philosophy and European Political Systems in the USA (Boulder, Colorado) for 2 years. I helped set up the Politics and Film project with Stan Brakhage because we taught a “polity” approach to Politics rather than the UK “institutions” approach. Polity argues that culture is as important as institutions so we showed various films to reveal the culture of various countries we were teaching about; UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia. From 1982-1984 I spent two years teaching Computing, Business Informations Systems, maths and related subjects including “people, technology and work”
In 1984 the UK government under Kenneth Clark deemed 1984 the year of IT and the BBC launched the BBC B Micro with a plan to put one stand-alone computer into every school and a supporting programme of educational broadcasting teaching people how to use it, by teaching BASIC programming and how a computer worked because using a computer wasn’t user-friendly it was still nerdy and technical; very appropriate for a technical college (descendants of the 19th century Mechanics Institutes)
Will Tomorrow Work? November 1984
In 1984 I asked myself if I could use my teaching experience in both Politics and Computing in some way and decided that I could examine “the social impact of technology” and, inspired by the BBC, wrote Information Technology and Society looking the forthcoming impact of computing technology, largely through the advent of “personal computers” like the BBC B, the Amstrad word processor and the much more expensive IBM PC (M$) and Apple 2. These were all very technically clunky but, like the Analogue technologies of the 60s SLR cameras, take-recorders, record-players and Arriflex and Bolex 16mm cameras (as well as 8mm cameras), were affordable if individuals wanted to buy them. When Alan M Sugar launched his Amstrad WP the market for WP was 20000 in the UK but he sold 80,000 in the first year including printer. Personal computers changed the market for computers from very large companies to, potentially everybody.
In 1970 when I started on a maths degree we had a computing option. All degree students in London shared just the 1 “mainframe” computer between them and the input for your programmes was taken by motorbike courier to ILECC in Bloomsbury and returned 2 days later. If you’d made one mistake it could take days to debug it.
Interestingly if you are a Londoner the first office computer was the LEO, Lyons Electronic Office built by the Lyons Corner house in 1951 which, eventually was spun off to become the first British Computer company (Ferranti/ICT/ICL) which represented the first commercial, rather than military application of computers. Nippy by name…
Social Impact of the Industrial Revolution
Danny Boyle; Olympic Opening Ceremony London 2012 (Technology History as a shareable “Narrative”) Great Man, Great Inventions, heroic change… (Jobs, Apple 4 Apples)
Brunel and the Industrial Revolution;
A filmic confection by Danny Boyle, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Humphrey Jennings
Pandemonium: The Coming of Technology as seen at the Time (Visceral History)
Reframed as a narrative for our simplified understanding;
the Industrial Revolution as Britain becoming a great economic power
Brunel as the great engineer of that Industrial Revolution.
Actually he was a great engineer but his lasting legacy, the social impact of his world, has been “railway time” and international time zones not his dialogical engineering…
Brunel was a “prodigy” like Mozart or McCartney because he was following in his fathers footsteps, the families craft skills were engineering…
Dziga Vertov; The Man With The Movie Camera 1927 (soundtrack by The Cinematic Orchestra)
What Did The Industrial Revolution Look Like At The Time?
Awakening to the Day 2) Going to Work 3) Working 4) Leisure time 5) Down time; drinks and chess…
Technological Innovation Process or The 4 i’s
i 1 ideas (thoughts). (learning)
i 2 inventions. (theories). (Heutagogy)
i 3 innovations. (technologies). (Education)
i 4 impacts. (times). (Social structures)
BUT WHERE DID THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION COME FROM?
Bill Gates; The Road Ahead 1895
BRASSED OFF and Halifax Piece Hall The moment of transition from a craft-based culture
SOCIAL CHANGE COMES FROM IMPACTS NOT Inventions or INNOVATIONS
The 2nd Order Impacts of technological innovations (both positive – public transportation – and negative – death by fuel poisoning in Catford AND the Anthropocene of course)
See my NSU theory based on Kondratieff… Whose “meta-technology” theory only runs from 1771
Brazil and the Social Impact of Surveillance Technologies… 1984
Made by Terry Gilliam “somewhere in the 20th Century” to replace the failing myth of Orwell’s 1984
“Orwell was wrong” Margaret Thatcher “I’m writing a book called 1948” George Orwell about Room 101 at the BBC..,.
Longitude represents the shift from nature-centric thinking, such as by Humboldt, Kropotkin and the European alchemists lead by Erasmus, John Evelyn and Antrobus, to techno-centric thinking. This essentially flowed from Charles II (the Gambling Man as Jenny Uglow calls him) establishing the Royal Society in 1660 and shutting down thinking into the singular “Great Man” thinking of the newly introduced scientists and the so-called “scientific method” and it’s simplistic monocultural thinking, from which we have been bequeathed the Anthropocene.
Koyaanisqatsi – the systemic onslaught of technology (the Industrial Revolution) on the planet… The Anthropocene movie… Based on Big History
Where does technology come from?
Definitions; tool, augmentation, system, “order imposed on nature” (embodied learning) arguably human intelligence comes from our dialogic interaction with nature and what we learn from it. This learning can become “embodied learning” in our tools from which we create a shared “cultural DNA. This has recently been put forward as the through “Wired for Culture by Mark Nagel…
Who’s Afraid of Roger Rabbit?
Big History (Origin Stories, The Dawn of Everything,
AND Yoneji Masuda Managing in the Information Economy…