Neil Postman on Technology and Society

From a presentation on 1998/02/07 at Calvin College, via YouTube (thanks to George Siemens for pointing this video out!) when looking at any technology, (at least) 6 questions are important: "What is the problem to which this is the solution?" "Whose problem is it?" "Suppose we solve this problem, and solve it decisively. What new problems might be created because we have solved the problem?" "Which people, and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological solution?...

July 21, 2009 · 2 min

on just getting by

Michael Wesch just posted an amazing reflection on his experience in the classroom. He's frustrated by the lack of engagement, the scattered engagement. The education through "soul murder." My teaching assistants consoled me by noting that students have learned that they can "get by" without paying attention in their classes. Perhaps feeling a bit encouraged by my look of incredulity, my TA's continued with a long list of other activities students have learned that they can "...

October 21, 2008 · 2 min

courses are fraudulent technologies

...a course is a fraudulent technology. It is put forward as a desirable structure for learning when in fact it is only a structure for allocating space, for convenient record-keeping, and for control of faculty time. Neil Postman, Technopoly, 1993. pg 138

October 8, 2008 · 1 min


New technologies alter the structure of our interests: the things we think about. They alter the character of our symbols: the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop. Neil Postman, Technopoly, 1992

September 5, 2008 · 1 min

hammers and nails

To a man with a pencil, everything looks like a list. To a man with a camera, everything looks like an image. To a man with a computer, everything looks like data. And to a man with a grade sheet, everything looks like a number. Neil Postman, Technopoly, 1992.

September 5, 2008 · 1 min

the postman delivers

My copy of Postman and Weingartner's Teaching as a Subversive Activity was delivered in the mail today, thanks to the speedy shipping system. It's got a fresh, blank Page 61 and I'm looking forward to having it filled up. I also picked up a copy of Technopoly. I decided to not go ahead and buy the other dozen books in my shopping cart in an effort to avoid credit-card-related domestic difficulties....

August 27, 2008 · 1 min

inquiry as a subversive activity

I've been reading Postman and Weingartner's Teaching as a Subversive Activity (more info), and I'm finding myself extremely drawn into it. It's the kind of book that I may have read as an undergrad, but just wasn't ready for. It's the kind of book where you need to be ready to really engage with it before it makes sense. And it's the kind of book that has me rethinking pretty much everything, and seeing new patterns everywhere....

August 20, 2008 · 4 min

perception and reality

...we do not get our perceptions from the "things" around us. Our perceptions come from us. This does not mean that there is nothing outside of our skins. It does mean that whatever is "out there" can never be known except as it is filtered through a human nervous system. We can never get outside of our own skins. "Reality" is a perception, located somewhere behind the eyes. - Postman, 1969...

August 19, 2008 · 1 min

Postman on authorities and syllabus

All authorities get nervous when learning is conducted without a syllabus. - Postman, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, 1969

August 17, 2008 · 1 min

Postman - Teaching as a Subversive Activity

I'm working through Teaching as a Subversive Activity, by Neil Postman. I hadn't read it before, and am seriously kicking myself for that. Some quick notes and quotes from the first couple of chapters. Keep in mind that this book was written in 1968, published in 1969, and reads as though it was crafted in 2008. 3 problems that require schools to remake themselves into training centers for subversion: Communications Revolution or Media Change:...

August 15, 2008 · 3 min