The name of CSET’s blog, Mediations, gestures in two directions.
To begin with, it is helpful to think about all technologies, not just media technologies, as mediators. Technologies mediate our experience of the world. They enter into the circuit of mind, body, and world. Often they mediate our perception, shaping how we see the world or even how we see ourselves. They mediate our interactions with others, shaping our politics and our institutions. Technology also mediates our action in the world. In this mediating role, technology is never neutral. This does not mean that its consequences are necessarily positive or negative, or even consequential. But it does mean that we ought to consider how they give shape to the world we inhabit and and how we make our way in it.
There is one other consideration that explains why we chose Mediations as the title CSET’s blog. We understand our work, in part, as a work of mediation.
We urgently need to come to a better understanding of the consequences of technological change. Unfortunately, most of what passes for public discussions of technology, with some notable exceptions, remains superficial and unhelpful, often alternating between naive cheerleading or reactionary pessimism. More helpful work happens among scholars of technology, including historians, philosophers, and social scientists. There also exists a longstanding tradition of technology criticism going back more than a century. This tradition remains an important source of insight and wisdom, but it is largely forgotten.
Part of our work, then, is to take up a mediating role, bridging these gaps and making the work of contemporary scholars and forgotten writers more widely accessible. In this way we hope to deepen the public conversation about technology and introduce readers to perspectives that will help them navigate the realm of modern technology more wisely.
There is another gap we aim to bridge, another act of mediation we hope to pull off. The work of many of our most compelling critics of modern technology has been informed by their theological commitments. Jacques Ellul, Marshall McLuhan, Ivan Illich, Walter Ong, and Albert Borgmann come readily to mind. However, this work is not widely known among either people of faith or the wider public. We believe this is valuable work and we aim to bring its wisdom to bear on contemporary technology.
We believe this work of mediation will be indispensable as we try to make sense of the world we inhabit and the technology that gives it its distinctive character. We believe, as well, that this is urgent work and we trust you will find it helpful and also encouraging. Our hope is that Mediations will supply a unique voice—informed, irenic, thoughtful, patient—in our present media ecosystem, one that you can rely on to help you live wisely and faithfully with technology.