Technology as culture’s artifact

In Blair Jackson’s biography there is this observation from the artist: “[The Bay Area vibe of the mid- and late-60s] has also gained enough momentum over the years that it’s partly responsible for all the things that have happened historically since then… it’s part of the gain in consciousness that the last half of [the 20th] century has represented. And that includes all the technology that goes with it.” (Emphasis added.)

The idea that culture drives directions in technology, as much as technology shapes culture, is interesting to consider. We might ascribe expansions in perspective to the printing press, or in economics to industrial, locomotion and communication advances. These innovations however did not take place in isolation, these did not happen like a gift or a discovery. These conscious acts occurred in context shaped by circumstance, by stepping stones laid out by predecessors, by inspiration. The inspiration may or may not have been rooted in the invention’s special field, though the world’s civilization was all around it.

“Perceptually,” Garcia says, “an idea that’s been very important to me in playing has been the whole ‘odyssey’ idea — journeys, voyages and adventures along the way.” The association of travel with adventure in his commentary suggests notions about change and the unknown. But where he and others may find romance in the mystery, some anxiously shy away. Change, or its perception, has that effect. Sometimes the storyteller’s role is to comfort.

My name is August West…

“The important changes,” Garcia once observed, “have already happened.”