29Utopian Futures for Learning Technologies

Marcus Childress

29.1 Introduction

Individuals write about both the benefits and perils of technology and its impact on our society. Some scholars take a dystopian view of technology, some take a utopian view, while others have a view that falls somewhere in-between. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a utopia is “an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect” (Merriam-Webster 2014). Often, utopia is used to describe something possessing perfect qualities. The word was originally coined in 1516 by Sir Thomas More in his book Utopia, in which he used it to describe his fictional island society (More 1516; Sullivan 1983). However, the utopian idea began long before More. Plato presented the first recorded utopian plan in his Republic (Plato 380BC; Reeve 1988). He proposed a categorization of citizens into “golden,” “silver,” “bronze,” and “iron” socioeconomic classes. Central to the proposal is the long and tedious training of citizens to become “philosopher-kings.” Utopias have been described in various other areas, including economics, ecology, technology, and even religion, for example the Islamic and Judeo-Christian notions of heaven may be described as utopias. These heavens provide a state of bliss and enlightenment. In a similar vein, many consider the Hindu concept of Moksha (Ingalls 1957) and the Buddhist concept of Nirvana (Fowler 2012) as forms of utopia, not as a physical place but ...

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