Culture + Technology: A Primer
Author: Jennifer Daryl Slack, J. MacGregor Wise
Publisher: New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2005
Review Published: November 2006
We would like to thank the two reviewers, Glen Fuller and Louise Woodstock, for such thorough and positive reviews of our book and for seeing it as a useful framework to encourage discussion of such issues. Fuller refers to it as a "'primer' -- a small explosive charge" which reminds us that Gilles Deleuze once referred to texts as "little bombs" which could produce new lines of thought and connection (cited in Grosz, 2001). In some ways this book has always been a project that sought to open new connections in this way and it is gratifying to read that perhaps this book has achieved at least part of that purpose.
There's not much to respond to in terms of critique. These are wonderful, positive reviews, and we are quite thankful for them. Woodstock mentions that organization is always a challenge in books of this kind, and we agree. We did try putting the "Defining Technology" chapter earlier, but it just didn't work there. In terms of the journey of the book (Fuller refers to its "movement, or vector") it made sense to raise these questions after mapping out the received view and some of the historical responses to it. We take it as a measure of the success of our argument that by the time the reader gets to the Defining Technology chapter, the position seems obvious. When we began the book with the Defining Technology chapter, readers new to these issues had difficulty understanding why such an argument mattered. Of course, other teachers, students, and readers may experience the vector of the book differently. Indeed, we hope people move through, with, and beyond the book in any way that is helpful to them.
Fuller raises the question, "Isn't it possible there are contingent arrangements of articulations (assemblages) that have such a durability so as to exceed human frames of reference, that is, exist on non-human or 'machinic' scales of subjectivity?" And we would agree: yes, there are. We get at that when we're discussing the politics of technology, especially Winner's definition. Perhaps we could have used that opportunity to draw together more threads from earlier in the book: harkening back to the idea of assemblage, reminding readers of Winner's example of Robert Moses' bridges (from Chapter Thirteen) which shows the durability of technological arrangements (and the tenacity of articulations) on the scale of not only architecture but urban planning. Fuller's railway line example is germane here.
Again, we would like to thank the reviewers for their careful, thoughtful, and supportive reviews of our book. We are deeply gratified.
Grosz, Elizabeth (2001). Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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