In Between Us: On the Transparency and opacity of technological mediation

  • van den Eede Y
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Abstract

Different theoretical approaches each highlight only certain aspects of technologically mediated human existence. Philosophical theories of technology focus on mediation, but not on inter-human component. Theories of mediated interaction do not consider being-with-each-other an sich. Relationship scholars do not theorize technological mediation. This article considers different theories of technology, in order to devise a general theory of technological mediation. Technological mediation by its very nature, however, is transparent. How to approach it then? VDE explores the notion of transparency as it comes to the fore in the different perspectives on technology. The transparency-opacity in these theories all involve changing perspectives: from tool to use/medium to message/form to content/figure and ground, where opacity of the one means transparency of the other, and vice versa. Then, he systematized this into a broad analysis of technological mediation. In use relations, the transparency and opacity emerge in the ‘neutral’ (efficient, easy) usage of the tool/medium/content/platform. In context relations, the transparency and opacity concern the social and political context of the technology: the (invisible) ways by which technologies produce and perpetuate social injustices. Use for FOLoF: the face is not a technology, but nevertheless it conjures a similar dynamic of transparency and opacity (faciality: you look at a collection of features, and see a person. Whole versus parts - Gestalt experience?) Question: which is the 'us' in the title? VDE seems to be talking about technological mediation in a broad sense (which also includes technological mediation of self-world), but also about technological mediation of social interaction. He does not make this very relevant distinction clear, however!

Author-supplied keywords

  • Philosophy of technology
  • Technological mediation
  • Transparency

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Authors

  • Yoni van den Eede

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