Tue, 24 Jun 2003 00:25:15 GMT

Technology or Culture?.

TECHNOLOGY AND ORGANIZATIONAL UNIFICATION: This blog is really transformational for me.  Just when I think I have heard all perspectives, I'm awakened to new viewpoints.  Case in point…  I was with a very respectable customer today.  It was clear that these folks get the value of  human interaction given the market they are in (PURE knowledge creation and subsequent value generation), but architecture somehow gets in the way. 

Halfway through our discussion, a very bright fellow in the crowd offers that “decentralized software disrupts the value that we, as a corporation, bring to the table.  These highly valued employees will just leave us, as teams, if we allow edge-based agility.  We give them POWER.”  Sigh…  Shrug…  Fascinating…

As we slog through the adoption of emergent technologies, it is clear to me that technology isn't the issue.  In fact, it is a complete NON-ISSUE.  I'm reminded by my anthropology buddies that technology is a mere tool.  Until the tribe adapts it's social viewpoint (read: culture, values, memes, networks),  technology is nothing but an enabler versus a real change agent.

[Michael Helfrich's Radio Weblog]

Michael is spot on. If you want to see how powerful his insight is there is a gem of a book called “The Dynamics of military revolution” edited by Knox and Murray. They look at many epoch changing technical innovations in the military such as the introduction of longbows, muskets, rifles etc and show that it takes about a generation, or a bad war, to make the social adjustment. IE consider the rifle. At the beginning of the civil war, tactics demanded that men line up facing each other and pour it on. By the end of the war, everyone who could get into trench did so. BUT the Europeans missed the whole point and spent much of the first 6 months on WWI charging into machine gun and rifle fire. In WWII, the French and the Brits had in total more tanks than the Germans but they deployed them as infantry support weapons. The german, by losing the last war, had created an entirely new method – Blitzkrieg. The key is to make the cultural shift and then the doctrine shift. You deploy the new in a new way. if you deploy the new in the old way – 'we keep all the knowldge inside', you fail.

[Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog]

Culture always determines how tools are being used. Cultures that are unable to properly use them will fall behind cultures that creatively use new tools. TV was viewed as radio with pictures for years. The internet has been viewed as TV over a network. We are just beginning to get an idea of just how different it is. [A Man with a Ph.D. – Richard Gayle's Weblog]


technology and culture are not separable, culture, and each of its little functions, is a technology, it developed over time, it has creators, etc. it is a technology. technology likewise is cultural, one culture does not necessarily have the same technologies and techniques as another. we cannot easily say that cultures can or cannot in the manner above because it is entirely unclear, because it is clear that there is certainly at least one person in nearly any culture that can, in short, one that is not bound a tightly to the culture, but yet is still embedded in it. likewise, to say cannot means that there is no possibility that someone in the culture, can, and that is unlikely unless the culture is more or less dead. cultures adapt, technologies do to, they operate the same way as the same set of techniques.