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Multiplayer online games are also embedded in modern rationality. As noted by Grimes and Feenberg (2009) multiplayer online games “impose a rational form on a sector of experience” (105). These games are sites of social rationalization involving exchange of equivalents, classification and application of rules and the optimization of effort and calculation. As Grimes and Feenberg (2009: 106) explain:

Players and player moves are standardize through the program code (exchange of equivalents); formal rules are established by the game engine and operators as well as the player community (classification and application of rules); and player efforts are optimized and calculated through numeric leveling and pints systems that are further reinforced by the status and social capital granted to players of high standing (optimization of effort and calculation of results).

Certainly, the tendency of rationalization grew with modernity, especially with the Anglo-Germanic modernity. The cultural horizon of most technology is then Anglo-Germanic in origin (Dussel 1998). The predominance of this European cultural horizon around the world, and its mark in most technologies, is the consequence of technological diffusion, often the consequence of imperial and colonial encounters, and of the expansion of capitalism and commercial exchange worldwide. Yet, technologies are not simply adopted but rather adapted to local cultures and circumstances. Those adapting the technology construe the technology differently from the original producers and users of that technology, assigning new meanings to the technology in question. Even multiplayer online games are adapted in numerous ways (Feenberg and Grimes 2009). But again, and despite adaptation and the allocation of diverse meanings to technology, rationalization remains the modern cultural horizon of most technologies around the world, from the level of design to the level of use and consumption.

Appreciating technologies: some tips

So, if you want to appreciate technologies from other culture here’s what you must do.

1. Identify and name the various stakeholders or groups of people that designed, produced, developed, tested and use the technology in question.

2. Identify and list the diverse meanings, positive or negative, that these different groups attach to the technology in question.

3. Identify the cultural horizon of the technology in question. That is, identify the culturally general assumptions that form the often unquestioned background to every aspect of social life in that particular culture, including technology design, development and use in that culture.

The cultural horizon may or may not be rationalization. Yet, it is always a good place to start. Answering these questions may give you needed information for a better appreciation of technologies from other cultures. Of course, if you use it to appreciate technologies in your own culture it may reveal very interesting facts about your own culture. Try it too!

Some more tips to appreciate technology as culture

In examining technologies from other cultures you must also avoid ethnocentrism, the assumption that one’s group is superior to other groups. For example, you must avoid thinking uncritically that technologies developed in your culture are automatically better or superior to technologies developed elsewhere. You must also avoid biases in favor of Western culture. That is, you must avoid thinking uncritically that European and American technologies are better and superior than technologies developed elsewhere in the world. Also, you must avoid the uncritical assumption that all Japanese technologies are superior to technologies developed elsewhere in the world.

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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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