What children's books can tell us
Alan Noble, Strawberry Shortcake, and technological determinism
Hey readers, a couple of weeks ago, I shared some reading from Andy Crouch’s The Life We’re Looking For, and how that influenced the way I think about how to use technology. You can read that post here:
This week, I want to share a post along the same lines from Alan Noble’s recently started Substack. I thought it was such a great walk through these topics from a highly unexpected source. You can check it out here:
This quote in particular stood out to me:
What finally changes Lemon’s mind is when Strawberry Shortcake explains how inhuman the machine is. The machine is more efficient, but it cannot compliment the friends, it cannot laugh and participate in conversations, it cannot be “a shoulder to cry on” and “it doesn’t give hugs.” Note the emphasis on the human body.
It turns out that the salon was not merely a place to get your hair and nails done. It was a place for human connection, for neighborliness, for—dare I say it?—love! The commercial and practical were not the most important ends of the space.1
We all feel the notion that the salon is not just about a haircut. The haircut is important, but in the end, the salon is about much more. But in different contexts, like our office situations and home life, we are very quick to adopt new technology without considering its costs. The story Noble points out here is one that teaches kids to be skeptical of wholesale adoption of new technology that promises big rewards but separates us from our work in the process.
What are the technologies we have adopted that separate us from work that we find meaningful? Just because we can automate doesn’t mean we should, and I think Strawberry Shortcake gives us a clear way of thinking about these tradeoffs that even a child can understand.
With that, thanks for reading, and see you again soon.