Jerry Mander:” The idea, that technology is neutral, is a serious mistake”

London: How do you respond to the argument that technology is not inherently good or bad, it’s how we use it that matters.


Mander: That’s the major homily of our time. And it’s a very serious mistake. The idea that technology is neutral — that it doesn’t have social, political and environmental characteristics — is really dangerous.

Consider nuclear power and solar power. Both are energy forms, but they have entirely different effects on the system. Nuclear power is an inherently centralized technology. It requires centralized military-industrial institutions. Nobody knows what to do about 250,000 years of dangerous wastes. If we were to judge energy only in terms of who uses it, that would be like saying, “Well, if some good people got together and ran the nuclear power industry, the wastes wouldn’t have to be safeguarded for 250,000 years.” But these things are intrinsic to the technology. It’s not a question of whether good people use them.

Solar technology is the exact opposite — it is inherently localizing. A couple of people can easily put it together, it’s not expensive to use, the community can run it without having to hook up to the grid, and it has no lasting negative effects.


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Steve Jobs : “For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through”

Playboy: What’s the difference between the people who have insanely great ideas and the people who pull off those insanely great ideas?


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Jobs: Let me compare it with IBM. How come the Mac group produced Mac and the people at IBM produced the PCjr? We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

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