For the Digital Culture and Information Black Mirror lecture class next semester, I think the book “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley should be added to the course. This book is all about a dystopian world in the future that has been radically changed by technology and progressive knowledge. The novel discusses “scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a utopian society.” I first read this book in high school and I think its themes on technology and scientific development relate to a lot of the themes we have discussed in class. For example, the book divides the people in the utopian society into different class structures and uses conditioning methods to train people into what class they will be in. People are conditioned to hate books and learning, so much of their freedom is gone. Similar to things we have discussed in class, digital learning has become the most beneficial way of learning just like they believe in “Brave New World.” Also, we have discussed how information and knowledge is not free for all, and in a utopian society like the one in this book, knowledge is only given to those in the highest class. Also people in the “Brave New World” all act the same and look the same, just like how social media has affected people to conform to the social norm in the present day. The book’s major theme is progressive movements and technology in order to create a perfect world. They praise and pray to Henry Ford instead of Gods or spirits because he was the man who created the assembly line and mass production. This book would be great for the class because it shows how technology and change have such a huge impact on people and the society we live in. It also is a book to warn people of what too much technology and progress can do to society in the future. All these themes fit really well with class discussions we have had on digital learning, free knowledge, social media, and how technology affects everyday life and the future ahead.
If you were to use this book for class next year, I would assign it to be read in class and have a class long discussion on its themes and ideas. I also think a blog post would be a cool way to get the students thinking about the effects of technology and the symbolism in the book. Similar to the blog post that we completed about what a historical event would look like in 2019, it would be interesting to see their take on what they think life will look like 3019. Will it be similar to how life is in “Brave New World?” Will technology take over the human race? Will there still be freedoms and rights? Will there be flying cars or genetically modified humans? I think this book has great potential to have students become aware of the progress in society thanks to technology and how it will affect our future.