It is really interesting to read Borgmann’s Reality and Technology for Experience Design class right after hearing Jeff talking about how technology should contribute to people’s engagement with society and life. The whole writing is concentrating on how technology should engage people rather than detach. Borgmann uses commodification as a clue to discover the position of technology. In the writing, Borgmann introduces the terms “economically commodified” and “morally commodified.” For morally commodified, he says
So what happens morally when something is commodified? A thing or a practice is morally commodified when it is detached from contexts of engagement with a time, a place, and a community.
After that, when talking about the reverse of commodification, Borgmann uses internet as an example because certain goods are freely available. He states further about these good on internet as:
[…] goods are economically decommodified and yet are morally commodified in most cases, devoid of contexts of engagement with a particular place, time, or community. The lack of communal engagement is often concealed by seemingly intense and frequent communication. But the low cost of entering and leaving an internet relationship is the very mark of moral commodification and makes for short-lived and immaterial connections. The internet can enhance but not produce actual communities.
These words really make sense while I was reading them and thinking about the final project that I’m doing now for methods class. It’s about how online social technologies influence people’s intimate relationship to break up. However, while author states that “disengagement inevitably flattens out the world and shallow a person”, I cannot stop wondering, is engagement that important? Just by reading this refusal of disengagement makes me think about Lao-Tsu. One of his philosophical ideas is to disengage and not act. I’m personally affected by this idea for a long time, and it really promotes and enriches my life instead of turning me shallow. Therefore, if internet is really producing disengagement, can we take advantage of it? Remember, bias and perspective both come from people, while objects and events themselves don’t really have opinions. Can this detachment help us to look into ourselves and grow?