Critical Engineering Manifesto

5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.

As a user incorporates a technology into their life more, it alters their understandings and the way they go about their lives.

For instance, air transportation has altered the relationship people have to distance, which affects how people conceive of physical distance between each other. To illustrate: I first grew up near the Bay Area in Northern California, and my parents used to drive 400 miles south for 6 hours to visit my grandparents in Orange County. When I later moved to New Hampshire on the East Coast – about 3000 miles away from my grandparents – I still feel as though I live 6 hrs away from them since that’s how long it takes to travel there via plane. (I think there was an infographic on FastCo or Atlantic Cities that visualizes the changing relationship people have with distance due to transportation technology, but I can’t find it anymore.)

And this has other social implications, too. For instance, it impacts how people experience Thanksgiving: Since it is possible for families to live thousands of miles apart from each other but still be able to hop on a plane and see each other again within a couple of hours, it’s turned the tradition of being together with your extended family at Thanksgiving into an annual mass migration for many people across the U.S.


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