I don't want tech to be "magic". I want it to be transparent and understood.

There is much to be said for developer/engineer vanity playing into the 'tech as magic' trope. From the workplace to the tech art exhibition it pays very well.

I've succumbed to the feelgood of being told that something I've made seems like "magic". In truth there is nothing unethical about inducing such wonder, as it is the seed of curiosity. It's the choice that's then made - to withhold or to open up - which counts, one decisive to nurturing a broader techno-political & technical literacy

@JulianOliver In my ideal world tech is understood and transparent and still has magic. to be honest i still find electricity by itself magic not to speak of magnetism, emergent behaviors, synchronization and so much more.

@derstrudel Yes, I often find magic in works of engineering, and in works I understand no less. That is different from works of engineering framed as magic, opaque in their presentation.

@JulianOliver @derstrudel Magic is not opaque and authoritarian by nature. Magic often used to be highly inclusive, including non-human beings. Stengers is really interesting on this point. She asks why fight capitalist tech “spells” with rational arguments. Should we look for counter-magic?

@JulianOliver This! People love to say things like “Bob implemented some magic” or “it is dark voodoo how this works”.


It means it is poorly written. Or over complicated. Or under documented. Or some tried to be way too clever.

There is no magic.

@JulianOliver I quite like Mark Coeckelberg's ( take on #Magic & #Technology in his Book Moved by Machines; Performance Metaphors and Philosophy ( . It basically takes your argument from above one step further by putting the person who perceives some piece of technology into the loop of a performative triangle: creator - machine - user. Quote: "It is also not right to frame designers as the only magicians and users as innocent and helpless victims of magic. In their performative acts and practices, users co-create the magic and the illusions, potentially co-trick others and exercise power in relation to them. Using a performative approach, we find ourselves in a complex field of social relations and forces, the messy social world of everyday
life. In that social world, technologies sometimes play the role of the magician’s tool, and sometimes they are even co-magicians or co-write the script of the show. But their role is always connected to humans, and their effects cannot be adequately described and evaluated independent from the human-technological performances and performative settings they are part of."

@JulianOliver indded, #Magic is pre-enlightenment and pre-emancipation. Bot in history epochs as well as personal.
Magic is authoritarian.
It's what the alchemists did for a living when 'making' gold. Is #IT our contemporary #alchemy?

@JulianOliver This is basic common sense, but some people will look at this and wonder why they need to see the source for a video game or photo editing software. Instead, ask why the software that controls your car's brakes or safety systems should be hidden from you. Software is everywhere now, and we should expect that we (or experts we trust) can examine it and tell us we're safe. Experts can look at my gas tank or carburetor and tell me it's safe...why not the software, too?

@richard_merren You can understand how a flower or the solar system work, without being a botanist, nor astrophysicist. It's that basic level of literacy that's lacking. Moving from the 'series of tubes' level of literacy to understanding that data moves in packets is something that can be taught at any level of education, from 6yrs up.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The original server operated by the Mastodon gGmbH non-profit