Week 2 Reading: Do machines make history?/ Does technology drive history?

Social Communicative Aspects of ICT


1. (from Do Machines Make History?) Click here to view the Prezi presentation I made for the article.

Why didn’t most of the advanced technologies in ancient China get wide application in society? For example, the gun powder was primarily used to make firecrackers, not weapons; the compass was not used to explore the seas, even when they did, China didn’t sail the ocean on an adventurous attitude, let alone colonize any countries.

Reflections: This question is important to me personally as I am interested in Chinese history. I can think of some reasons after reading the article, such as the low cost of labor force and a low need for improving productivity; the lack of capitalism and the control of government. Although some technologies such as printing did get wide application and had a great impact on the society, they were not able to change socioeconomic order in a bit.

2. (from the introduction of Does Technology drive history?)

The author states that “society as whole becomes increasingly dependent on large, intricately interrelated technical systems.” The statement reminds me of an idea on which a game called “Watchdog” is based. It sets the background in the future Chicago where all the communication, security, electricity and servaillance is intrigued into one megasystem and the protagonist can hack into the system and see everyone’s file, what they are talking on the phone and watch every surveillance video. It’s really creepy. I cannot help but wonder if our society is moving towards this trend. Actually, as far as I know, some systems do connect, such as electricity grid, and they are all based on computers. Nowadays, our heavy reliance on web server to save our files/photos/data also prompts certain danger. So will the society pose some restrictions? What will happen if someone hacks into these systems?

Reflections: This question is important both personally and academically. It helps identify the social and equity issues of technology and through this question, I try to find a path to which future leads.

4 thoughts on “Week 2 Reading: Do machines make history?/ Does technology drive history?

  1. As you noted, the use of ‘the cloud’ to store data and information has been increasingly more popular and has created numerous social and cultural issues. This brings about questions of privacy, cybersecurity, and data protection. How safe is our information on cloud storage? We input our own personal information that is collected, stored, used, and shared for various reasons. From online banking to social media to photo saving, we upload much of our lives on the Internet. The big question is – how secure and safe is the data?


  2. I think, actually, technology and history are influencing eacher other. The development of technology requires certain social or material conditions, therefore, technology is not able to make history. But I believe technology could exert bad or good influence on history.

    The menu of your blog is in Chinese. You’d better change it for the convinience of other classmates : )


  3. Hi Linying… I had a hard time trying to find the comment button – It’s in Chinese 😛
    Regarding your second question. I do believe that that problem is already happening. Some days ago there was a big security attack to female celebrities iCloud accounts.
    A hacker leaked photos that these persons did not want to share, or even store in other places other than their phones. However, iCloud probably stored them there without even asking. We are giving our private information to these companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google, and we trust them – but they fail to protect the users.


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