Amish Hacking

Here is Kevin Kelly’s article on Amish hackers:

The Amish have the undeserved reputation of being luddites, of people who refuse to employ new technology. It’s well known the strictest of them don’t use electricity, or automobiles, but rather farm with manual tools and ride in a horse and buggy. In any debate about the merits of embracing new technology, the Amish stand out as offering an honorable alternative of refusal. Yet Amish lives are anything but anti-technological. In fact on my several visits with them, I have found them to be ingenious hackers and tinkers, the ultimate makers and do-it-yourselfers and surprisingly pro technology.

Here is Jameson Wetmore’s article on Amish technology:

The Amish believe that their society and their technology are inextricably intertwined. In an effort to maintain and protect their community of believers, therefore, the Amish require that every technology they use not only conforms to, but reinforces their tradition, culture, and religion. They achieve these goals through two primary techniques. First they choose technologies that they believe will best promote the values they hold most dear – values like humility, equality, and simplicity. Thus they have rejected the speed, glamour and personal expression of automobiles in favor of modest, slow, and community-building horse-drawn buggies. Second, they deliberately choose tools that are different from those used by the outside world. This differentiation helps them maintain their unique identity, bonds their community, and ensures that they will continue to be able to accept technology on their own terms.

Here is Jamie Sharp’s article on Amish technology practice:

The Amish have a unique and interesting way of dealing with the effect that technology has on their society. Unlike modern America, where people are now expected to conform to the technology that is placed before them, the Amish have devised a way of selecting which technologies are “good” and which ones are better off left alone. The Amish view technology as something that comes second to religion and cultural identity. If the introduction of a new technology weakens either of these two key components, they reject it. Martin Heidegger saw the world as conforming to a technological template, where humans are taught to think and act like machines. Jacques Ellul saw a world where, instead of using machines to meet our ends, we are used to meet the ends of the machine; we become second to the technology. The Amish have avoided these grim realities by placing Gelassenheit and the will of God above all else. They are masters of selective technology practice.


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