Don’t call that technology ‘Lifesaver’

In a celebrated scene from The Jerk (1979), dim-witted Steve Martin – excited by a dog’s apparent ability to save lives – is rebuked by an aggrieved observer, who suggests he calls it something very different – which Martin proceeds to do for the remainder of the film, to comic effect.

Similarly, it’s easy to get enthusiastic and passionate about a specific technology, sometimes to the point where it seems we cannot live without it. But it’s worth remembering that we draw on our own experiences, knowledge and culturally defined values to determine the affordances of technologies, and that our desire to share our excitement with others might not always be appreciated.


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