Points for Discussion – Technology and Contemporary Life

RISD Wintersession

Close to the Machine Ellen Ullman, Ch. 5-9


Sarah Delahanty, presenter



Ch. 5


Feelings of being obsolete

            Like Ullman, have you ever personally felt behind the times?

            Or do you usually feel confident with technology?

            Or do you feel ignorant of the technology around you?

            Does a certain degree of arrogance come with knowledge of technology?


Ch. 6   


Life as a loner, her choice of work does not allow her to have close human coworkers with whom she can fore strong bonds with


The current trend to a more virtual world (p. 126) of “not-quite-here-ness”

            VS. Her father’s era, her father’s “real company”

            Does a virtual world eliminate genuine human interaction?


Working at home

            Does working at home effect how an individual relates to their work?

            Is it possible for them to just “call it a day”?

            Is there always a level of anxiety work more because they never leave their place of


            Is it isolating without the camaraderie of the workplace?


Ch. 7



            Do people solely work for money?

            Why do people keep working if they have lots of money? For the sheer joy if it?

            Is helping a company grow and become successful the same as just making more money?


Ch. 8


Brian becomes too real

            Have humans becomes so virtual that anything real, such as relationships, scares them

                        away?  Can we still handle non-virtual situations?

            Has our technology made us cowardly in real life confrontations?


Ch. 9


Ullman’s drive to an interview, speed of growing technology

            Is the speed at which technology is expanding becoming too rapid and out of hand?

            Is it risky to put our faith in technology?  Can it collapse too easily?

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