This week’s reading for the Kolleg consists of a chapter taken from the book Die Herrschaft der Regel – Zur Grundlagengeschichte des Computers, written by Bettina Heintz. In this chapter (It’s #7, we got no information about how many chapters the book has etc. Either we do have a badly paid student assistant problem here, or some serious photocopying coordination problem…)
oops – right now I’ve got a serious time problem; I’ll finish this entry either later today or tomorrow.
Here I am, back again on the next day. To pick up the thread: Heintz does a nice job of presenting three different perspectives on technology. One perspective, based on Hans Linde, focuses on technology as things, that are similar to Durkheimian ‘fait social’. As ‘fait sociales’ things have definite normative implications that influence and regulate human behavior. The second perspective, related to the work of Karl H. Hörning, focuses on the contingent character of technology: it’s use is more ambiguous than commonly thought. Technology can have many non-inteded applications, and side-effects. The third perspective offered by Heintz draws upon Werner Rammert’s non-material, process-oriented understanding of technology. At this point, Heintze brings Turing back into play: His functionalistic concept of algorithmic processes is presented as being closely related to Rammert’s conceptualization of technology. At this point, I became confused; Heintze presents the non-material, and functionalistic understanding of technology as an inspriring and new concept. It remains totally unclear, why this functionalistic should be better than any of the other reconstructions. Why should technology as an alogrithm be a more useful concept than technology as a material, contingently used object? Probably the following chapter will answer this question, but alas, we didn’t get it.