Day By Day

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Amish Adoption of Technology

Nice piece in "The Technium" on the penetration of modern technology into Amish communities. There are a few minor errors in it and some confusion regarding the relationships between Amish and Mennonite communities, but it makes some very good points. Most important, the Amish have a process for adoption that stands in contrast to that used in the general society. He describes it this way:
  • 1) They are selective. They know how to say "no" and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
  • 2) They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
  • 3) They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
  • 4) The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.
Read the article here. The picture of Amish life presented here is incomplete, but a vast improvement over the popular image of these fascinating people.