Feenberg's Cricital Theory of Technology

Feenberg agrees with substantive theory that technologies inevitably change practices; at the same time, he agrees with instrumental theory by noting that people can decide on what kinds of practices will be adopted during the design phase, before a technology is introduced to market. Once a technology has been implemented, it's difficult for people to work against it (unless they reject it altogether); therefore, it's important to focus on the design of technologies before we adopt them.

This means that it's important for writing center practitioners to talk proactively about what kinds of technologies they'd like to use in their centers, to get involved in the design of appropriate technologies. Afterall, Web, MOO, and e-mail technologies will one day be eclipsed by newer technologies. We need to think, therefore, not only about how to use existing technologies, but about uses we'd like to see in the future.

Stuart Blythe
Purdue University