The flipside of the utopian attitude toward information technology is an equally unbalanced demonism of that same technology. I have been arguing from a position that holds that simply refusing information technology or disallowing its influence on our lives are not viable positions. What is necessary, however, is to exercise a measure of responsibility in the claims that we make for these technologies and the expectations that we have of them, a responsibility based upon acknowledgment of our own being as a technology mutually implicated in a variety of cultural domains.
As Haraway observes, "The machine is not an it to be animated, worshipped, and dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment. We can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us. We are responsible for boundaries; we are they" (180). I have traced one strand of interrelation across cultural sites, the resonance between certain features of infotech, the administrative policies of university institutions, the changing face of public education, and a discourse that seeks to recover a degree of national consensus and purpose. The medium that makes this resonance possible is a certain distributive, instrumentalist logic that penetrates (although it does not originate in) the cultural situation of many information technologies.
This distributive model of information, knowledge, and the coincidence of the two in a theory of social justice, together with the mutually implicatory mode of existence that Haraway identifies with technological culture demand of us an attention to the material facets of technological selfhood just as much as its virtual features. And to the degree that social justice is, at some level, one goal of pedagogical practice the classroom too can be implicated in a distributive logic of passive consumerism. This fact alone requires us to pay careful attention to the connection between the virtual and material facets of technological existence.
What is not a satisfactory response is adherence to a critical stance based on a dualistic instrumentalism and the unbridled optimism of virtual hope. For what this new alchemy does finally is to conceive of pedagogical subjects (including teachers) as users and not, in Selfe and Selfe's sense, technology critics. And as Chaucer reminds us, the effects of being such a technological user are not just virtual but material: "thereby shal he nat wynne/But empty his purs and make his wittes thynne."