“A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction … Our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, all theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. The cyborg is our ontology.” – Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”
The Accidental Cyborg
Haraway was writing about feminist identities in her 1984 essay, yet her thoughts about the human relationship with technology resonated with those who study the social, cultural, historical, and philosophical aspects of science and technology. Since the beginning of time, we have created artifacts and become dependent upon them. Our lives are always and ever inextricably enmeshed with the objects and processes of technology; we are cyborgs, literally and metaphorically. So with a nod to Dr. Haraway (and an apology to feminists), I have named my blog The Accidental Cyborg. “Cyborg” because that’s what we are, as humans; “Accidental” because we are drawn into our primary relationship with technology naturally, unknowingly, often without foresight, plot or design – and yet also, frequently, with full purpose and intent. Even then, we cannot see the full consequences.
(Here I must pause to also give a nod to Anne Tyler, whose excellent book, The Accidental Tourist, also inspired my title.)
I am writing this blog mainly to explore how we relate and have related to technology. When I say “technology,” I don’t mean just what is popularly thought of as technology (that is, computers and electronics), but potentially all objects and processes that we human beings create, have created, and will create for our purposes.
The story of humankind is the story of technology. We are tool-makers and process-creators. We literally cannot live without altering our environment and the things in nature to suit or needs.
My major field of study is the humanities. I’m interested in who we are, as human beings in the world; who we think we are, and how that has changed and continues to change over time; how we express ourselves in our creations and our communications; how we relate to one another and form communities; and how we imagine our future will be.
My subfield is science and technology studies. My writings in this blog may not always seem to be expressly about technology, but rest assured that technology figures into every aspect of our existence. All discussions lead inevitably to the things we create, why we make them, how we use them, and how we experience them in our lives.
You may remember a movie from the 1980s called Short Circuit that features a little robot called Johnny 5. When he escapes and begins experiencing the world, he keeps searching for information and repeating, “More input! More input!” That’s me. Like Johnny 5, I am insatiably curious about everything.
My doctorate is in humanities, with a specialty field in philosophy of technology. This blog serves as an incubator for my ideas and allows me connect with others interested in my field. I make my living as an adjunct professor, and If I’m clever and lucky, I can piece together enough classes and other part-time gigs to pay the bills.
Use of Blog Content
This blog and all content ©Karen Hanson. All opinions and points of view are my own and do not reflect or represent the positions of any of my employers. I am the creator of all content published here and therefore hold the copyright. You are welcome to link to any material and quote within reason; however, I am asking that you do not repurpose my posts for use on your own for-profit blog, website, or other publication. If you would like me to write for you, I am available, but I will ask to be paid (see paragraph above on struggling underemployed PhD).
You may recognize the photo above as the statue of Prometheus at Rockefeller Center sculpted by Paul Manship. The inscription reads, “”Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends.”
I took the cover photo on the home page of my blog on an escalator in the Pompidou Centre in Paris. I love this photo because I love escalators, I love the view of the Paris through the windows, and I love the mix of the technology and art – no difference, really. Technology, art, life – all connected.