5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.
It is easy to feel as if humans are fully autonomous users of technology. Tenet 5 of the manifesto addresses this fallacy of user purity and naïve notions of how we develop and behave as humans in our tech saturated lives.
Every technology has a method of use and intrinsic limitations that compel their users toward particular behaviors. Few humans would dar to traverse a bridge that could support 1 ton in a vehicle that weighs 10. Angela’s noted that aircraft dramatically alters our notion of distance. Cars change everything about the daily life of the driver. They have a some approximate range that they may travel in an hour, within which the driver feels is nearby. The engineered can shrink space and time. Since we think in terms of space and time, engineered entities change the our world view significantly.
Our dependence upon technology and the resulting changes it instills in our consciousness can be downright unnerving at times. I have caught my self reaching toward a printed word on a paper page with the intention of highlighting it with my finger. I have felt sudden urges when working with unforgiving materials to hit ⌘-Z for undo. When I feel (or think I feel) my right pocket buzz I am overcome with an immense and difficult to resist desire to slide it out and review the source and nature of the notification. Carpal Tunnel syndrome. The ghost image we see when we remove our glasses. Side Effects of any drug. The loss of navigational literacy and relation to place as a result of GPS dependence.