In June of last year, I read an article which strongly urged religious institutions to adapt to new communication technologies. Adapt or die, the author seemed to say; or, better yet, resistance is futile. This is when it occurred to me that there was an identifiable rhetoric that could be usefully labeled a “Borg Complex.” Labels have their limits, of course, but when you have a name for something it becomes easier to identify and analyze.
I’m persuaded of the usefulness of this particular label because, at the very least, it draws attention to rhetoric that shuts down debate and discussion about technology. In it’s worst forms this rhetoric is disingenuous and coercive. Even when it is not deployed maliciously, it oversimplifies genuine complexity and prevents us from imagining the full range of possibilities with regards to our use of technology.
The label also raises some interesting historical, philosophical, and ethical questions about technology. How far back can we find this kind of rhetoric? To what ends is this rhetoric put? Apart from rhetorical considerations, what do we make of the technological determinism implied? What does the history of technology tells us about the claims of inevitability? What sorts of options and choices are genuinely available when a technology appears?
In order to continue thinking through these questions and to draw attention to this rhetoric, I’ve started a Tumblr blog cataloging instances of the Borg Complex and related material. You can check it out here: The Borg Complex. And, naturally, I’m soliciting your help. If you come across cases of the Borg Complex, past or present, I invite you to send those in. Contact information is listed in the About This Blog page.