From: "Hacking Away at the Counter-culture"

The critical habit of finding unrelieved domination everywhere has certain consequences, one of which is to create a siege mentality, reinforcing the inertia, helplessness, and despair that such critiques set out to oppose in the first place. What follows is a politics that can speak only from a victim's position. And when knowledge about surveillance is presented as systematic and infallible, self-censoring is sure to follow. In the psychosocial climate of fear and phobia aroused by the virus scare, there is a responsibility not to be alarmist or to be scared, especially when, as I have argued, such moments are profitably seized upon by the sponsors of control technology. In short, the picture of a seamlessly panoptical network of surveillance may be the result of a rather undemocratic, not to mention unsocialistic, way of thinking, predicated upon the recognition of people solely as victims. It is redolent of the old sociological models of mass society and mass culture, which cast the majority of society as passive and lobotomized in the face of the cultural patterns of modernization. To emphasize, as Robins and Webster and others have done, the power of the new technologies to despotically transform the "rhythm, texture, and experience" of everyday life, and meet with no resistance in doing so, is not only to cleave, finally, to an epistemology of technological determinism, but also to dismiss the capacity of people to make their own uses of new technologies.

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Another reason for the involvement of cultural critics in the technology debates has to do with our special critical knowledge of the way in which cultural meanings are produced--our knowledge about the politics of consumption and what is often called the politics of representation. This is the knowledge which demonstrates that there are limits to the capacity of productive forces to shape and determine consciousness. It is a knowledge that insists on the ideological or interpretive dimension of technology as a culture which can and must be used and consumed in a variety of ways that are not reducible to the intentions of any single source or producer, and whose meanings cannot simply be read off as evidence of faultless social reproduction. It is a knowledge, in short, which refuses to add to the "hard domination" picture of disenfranchised individuals watched over by some by some scheming panoptical intelligence. Far from being understood solely as the concrete hardware of electronically sophisticated objects, technology must be seen as a lived, interpretive practice for people in their everyday lives. To redefine the shape and form of that practice is to help create the need for new kinds of hardware and software.

Source: Postmodern Culture