Raymond Williams rejects technological determinism as too limiting a lens in which to understand the impact of technology on society. Williams says that ideas and technology that are being developed are far more likely to be successful if a need corresponds with what he calls “decision-making groups.” He says, “A need which corresponds with the priorities of the real decision-making groups will, obviously, more quickly attract the investment of resources and the official permission, approval or encouragement on which a working technology, as distinct from available technical devices, depends. We can see this clearly in the major developments of industrial production and, significantly, in military technology.” (295)
He goes on to say that communications technology has not been developed the way that industrial and military technologies have come about “We can see this clearly in the major developments of industrial production and, significantly, in military technology. The social history of communications technology is interestingly different from either of these” (295). Anyone who has used Google to find restaurants or Urbanspoon would argue this point, though. A user could be right next to a restaurant that does not show up on Google or Urbanspoon and this is because of where the advertising dollars are going. Even Facebook had to resort to using ads when anyone who has seen the Social Network knows that Mark Zuckerburg’s character preferred Facebook not run at a profit, but eventually had to make a compromise to keep his project going. Williams argues that communications technology has been differently than military or industrial technology, which is true, but it may not be quite as different as Williams would like to think. The source of funds for technology has an unavoidable influence, especially as a technology grows in popularity. Perhaps Williams means that it is a bigger priority in communications technologies that decision-makers not influence the development of technologies the way they are such strong drivers in military and industrial technologies.