Technological progress has become second nature. It’s generally assumed that technology becomes better all the time. It used to mean that more quantity led to higher quality (more pixels, bytes, options, etc). Nowadays it’s often the opposite. Quality comes from stripped down interfaces, curated collections, filters, etc.
While this techno-progressivism grew alongside consumerism, there was an opposing idea within art and academia. They opposed this development, usually from the perspectives of critical theory. There was already a long history of anti-modernism anyway.
Today it’s still popular to talk about critical uses of media. I’m not sure what it means, but it usually implies a better use of technology. It can be smarter (hacking) or more stupid (dadaist circuit-shocking) or even mainstream (spectacle subversion). And it’s been like that for atleast 50 years?
They are two sides of the same coin. They need eachother to survive and they sustain eachother. The expression “creating something new with the old” is one example. This is relevant to say because of the wide-spread misconception that cutting edge ideas require new technologies. But they don’t. The retrofuturistic hauntology – going back and exploring forgotten paths – is another example. These paths are not old. They are new!
The argumentation here is far from solid. It’s a bit explorative. So I appreciate comments. But it feels like these things somehow confirm techno-progress as second nature. It takes it for granted and makes it stronger. But is it possible to avoid that? Is it something to strive for? I’m not sure. But here are three suggestions.
If you don’t like planned obsolescence, don’t talk about it all the time. And stop calling my tools obsolete. What’s your agenda, soldier? They are obviously not obsolete. Retromania is commercial. Old media are expensive. New media is trying to catch up with the qualities of their ancestors. Teletext has everything that the webb lacks!
Stop talking about limitations. It doesn’t matter if you use quotation marks – you’re still saying the same thing. Every medium has unique potentials (theoretically, atleast). It’s not a bug it’s a feature. Always!
We like friction! It seems pretty popular. Tumblr and Twitter have pretty bad interfaces, right? Instagram is described as quirky, iirc? People want odd interfaces – we’re not really looking for invisible and ultimate interfaces anymore. If we spend time and effort to do things (instead of some automatic super solution) we feel good! We don’t want Newton, we want DIY. He he.