, Volume 16, Issue 2-3, pp 139-159
Date: 19 Sep 2010

In Between Us: On the Transparency and Opacity of Technological Mediation

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In recent years several approaches—philosophical, sociological, psychological—have been developed to come to grips with our profoundly technologically mediated world. However, notwithstanding the vast merit of each, they illuminate only certain aspects of technological mediation. This paper is a preliminary attempt at a philosophical reflection on technological mediation as such—deploying the concepts of ‘transparency’ and ‘opacity’ as heuristic instruments. Hence, we locate a ‘theory of transparency’ within several theoretical frameworks—respectively classic phenomenology, media theory, Actor Network Theory, postphenomenology, several ethnographical, psychological, and sociological perspectives, and finally, the “Critical Theory of Technology.” Subsequently, we render a general, systematic overview of these theories, thereby conjecturing what a broad analysis of technological mediation in and of itself might look like—finding, at last, an essential contradiction between transparency of ‘use’ and transparency of social origins and effects.