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News from Nowhere > Q1: Morris and technology

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message 1: by Rob (new)

Rob | 14 comments Mod
Throughout News from Nowhere, it has to be said that the depiction of (at least) 19th Century technology is very negative. Underground trains are described as "that vapour bath of hurried and discontented humanity" and there are many comments about the ugliness of iron bridges and modern building.

In this vision of the future, the predominant building materials appear to be wood and stone. Land transport is by horse and cart - trains, and even bicyles, are absent. Printing presses are mentioned in a number of places, but the state-of-the-art of of Victorian Information Technology, the Electric Telegraph, is not. Morris praises Mediaeval aesthetics, and the predominant building materials his society appear to be wood and stone.

On the other hands, there are hints of high technology - Hammond tells Guest "all work which would be irksome to do by hand is done by immensely improved machinery", and later they encounter a "force-barge" on the river and Dick hints at the existence of force-vehicles on land.

So, are Morris' views a reaction against "modern" technology, or something more progressive? What (do you think) his view of the web would have been?

message 2: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Mckee | 3 comments I'm only in chapter xii, but I'm struck by his love of such an incredibly pastoral, simple society, based on physical labor. Based on a love of physical labor. I suspect Morris would hate the internet. He would probably tell us that if we want to discuss his book, we should get up and walk to a meeting-place!
I have the impression that it's pollution caused by machinery that he hated, not the machinery itself. He mentioned "smoke-vomiting chimneys", amazement at a clean Thames of the future society. So maybe the fact that virtual meetings and teleconferencing online saves people from climbing onto fuel-spewing jets would mollify him a little.

Also the online free culture movement is something that would fit with his political ideals, I think.

message 3: by Kc (new)

Kc | 126 comments Mod
He was happy with technology up to a point, as far as it made our lives better, but not technology just for pursuing profit or for making rubbish. I think he may have liked some aspects of the web, groups like this for instance!

message 4: by Anne (new)

Anne Robertson | 14 comments It seemed to me that technology as we know it was almost entirely missing and even eschewed as being unnecessary and something that entrapped or enslaved the common man. Something that the powerful used to exert their control over the workers. I wonder if he would not have approved f the pevrasive influence that the internet can have on some people?

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