How Technology Changes Cultural Practices

The impact of technology of cultural practices2.001

Something that Faris tweeted the other day piqued my interest. In response to an observation that technology doesn’t change human nature, he noted that it does however “change cultural practice”.

It’s a brilliant piece of insight. Though I wasn’t sure at first what it meant. Or indeed if it was useful. So it’s been rumbling around in my head for the last twenty four hours now. In what ways does technology change cultural practice? And how does it change it if at the same time, it isn’t actually changing human nature?

In attempt to order my own unordered thoughts, here’s my stab at it. It certainly isn’t rocket surgery. Or anything blindingly new. And it will not explain everything, I’m sure.

But it does seem to be able to explain (to me, at least) how technology is changing what we do. How it’s changing as Faris puts it, cultural practice.

And perhaps more importantly, it does seem to provide a starting point for thinking about the kinds of thing we could make for people. Making things being the whole point.

So even if it’s rubbish it might be a bit useful.


  1. Lee

    very useful. already stolen for a deck. thanks.
    i think that there’s probably other types of change. sometimes technology just makes things…different.
    eg, the aztecs lack of use of the wheel for constructive purpose created a society predicated on slave labor. perhaps if they’d had a technology to help construction, it would have been different.
    i think it’s also interesting to think about how technology doesn’t change cultural practice. neal stephenson’s books are chock full of examples of culture both fundamentally changed–and not–by technology.
    anyway, thanks.

  2. David Y

    I dig this. It’s a great link in the conversation we have at our agency a lot; “We are a full service, ‘traditional’ agency, so why do we talk so much about social media?” Well, it’s because of this. What it can do for conversations, for brands. And the alliteration makes it catchy, too. Well done. Totally stole it. (

  3. Nick

    Great effort, I like this a lot. Playing along, I’d add Actualization: Technology makes stuff real. How can we enable people to define themselves in these new spaces.