While I'm blustering about trying to get this thing running and all the people members who should be, I'll post Racho's question: is technology a powerful good or a force of evil?
It seems a simple question, but I think we can get a good deal more out of it than first glance would indicate.
To start things off, I'll give my view:
Technology is undoubtedly a good, but like many good things it has a double edge. Technology helps us communicate; it improves our lives; it protects us; and it does a multitude of other good things which I'm sure everyone can think of and about which there is no further reason for me to ramble. But what are the drawbacks? Sure, technology has also made the world a more dangerous place (eg nuclear weapons, or even guns), but I am more interested in the human aspect: technology has altered man's perception of war, learning, and life itself. ...Let me explain.
War: we've discussed this a little before, but I'll bring it up again. Before the advent of bombs (and largely even before guns), warfare was a deeply personal affair: combat was hand-to-hand, man-to-man. You practically looked in the eyes of your enemy as you killed him. Enter machine guns, bombs, airplane guns: warfare is no longer about people. You drop the explosive from half a mile up--and never see death clouding the eyes of your enemies. You are not taking human life; you are just dropping a thing which moments later puffs up smoke. Human life is despensable; you are not saving your own life by killing someone else--you are just killing someone else. Multitudes, actually. ...
Learning: technology is "dumbing" down our culture. There was a time when words mattered, when it was important to know how to speak, write, and generally express oneself intelligently. In writing, you only had one chance to get it right, or the whole thing was ruined and you had to start over again. There was no "backspace" function in letter-writing. Now, however, there is no necessity to be able to quickly and intelligently gather your thoughts and present your view. Carelessness is permissible because it is so dangerously easy to remedy. Also, in an age when we need to communicate instantly, it's far to difficult to bother actually spelling a word out: "how r u?" is SO much easier than anything more educated.
But there is another powerful way in which I think that technology is dumbing down the culture: VIDEO GAMES. I know this will strike a sour chord with many of you,but this issue frustrates me to no end and I WILL discuss it. Face it, before the advent of those hideous, mind-numbing contraptions, what were the possible pasttimes? --reading books, taking walks, talking with people. But now the ranks of the modern generations have secluded themselves in a new world: and the tragedy is, it's a world from which nothing is gained. It's this that bothers me more than all else. When you read a book (at least a good one), you come away from it with anything from thoughts of character development to new words (and what can equal the joy of stumbling upon a jewel like "recalcitrant" or "obsequious?"). Granted, some books are more for entertainment than moralizing (I consider Sherlock Holmes, for example, to be my own version of "video games" in that it fits within the "amusement" genre); but even from these something may be gained (eg in Sherlock Holmes I may not come away thinking of the good, but I will at least be having thought processes which may mirror the layout or plot of the stories; and I will have new characters to people my imagination, about which I can think; the point is, *I AM THINKING*). But when you come away from a video game, what have you brought with you? I ask again: What?
...arrg. Why did I get myself started on this? My spleen is rising, I tell you. It angers me that intelligent people waste their lives in fake battles, or fake housekeeping, or whatever. What do they learn of real courage, or love, or truth or anything? What can be gained from this pseudo-world in which everything is controlled by the person playing the game? Of course, it's fun--it's amusement! Now let us bring flooding down upon us Mr. Vierra's famous breakdown of A-MUSE! As humans, don't we have a *responsibility* to be more than merely amused?
*deep breath* ok. enough on that topic for now. ^_^
In more general terms: we live in a culture which expects everything to be instantaneous. It's a culture of impatience, of incessant bustling about and continuous motion. In short, it's a culture of technology. What with cars, computers, cell phones, radios, and just about anything that will help you to do faster whatever it is that you're doing, our life is lived at a constantly accelerated pace.
But as we zip past archaic barriers of space and time, are we zipping past our own lives as well? Technology is good, but we must use it well. Is being married to it a responsible use? Have we spent our lives glued to our technological gadgets--at the expense of everything human?
I will leave it to you to decide.