Re: Musings on technology and organizational learning

George L. Roth (groth@MIT.EDU)
Wed, 07 Dec 94 17:31:49

Robert Levi wrote:

> Just to toss in some other feedback, I listened carefully to Fritjof Capra's
> keynot at the Pegasus conference in S.F. and this is what I heard:
> Technology and sustainability are not compatible, because technology is
> inherently about *control* (i.e. controlling the computer to accomplish a
> task, a program controlling certain functions, etc.). People, on the other
> hand, do not like to be controlled, and a sustainable culture would not
> strong elements of control present in it.

My thoughts are that technology is "just" a tool which can be used in
different ways by different tool users. In terms of information
technology and its uses, I have found Zuboff's book, "In the Age of the
Smart Machine" (1988) to be an excellent treatise on the topic. In
particular, she distinguishes uses of information technology that automate
(the 'control' paradigm) with uses that 'informate' (enabling new and
different kinds of work practices through access to information).

The philosophy underlying the work of building learning organizations is
substantially different from that of planned, heirarchical, or
authoritarian change efforts. The tools that are used to promote learning
can be used in either change process, but its the philosophy and how that
philosophy plays out in practice that makes the difference. Technology, I
propose, is a vehicle that reflects and further its developers'
approaches, intentions, and interests.

groth@MIT.EDU (George L. Roth)