How work affects culture
As a follow up to the general scttered discussion we've been having on other threads, regarding technology and the european settlement of north america.
Mozart, I found Mumford's distinction between a tool and a machine illuminating: a 'tool' lends itself to manipulation, and a 'machine' lends itself to automatic action.
Now, some argument could occur about what exactly 'manipulation' could be, but I take it as 'directly used in the human hand'. IOW, constantly supervised by one's attention and coordination. Human skill. Machines, on the other hand, though often remarkable examples of human ingenuity, are characterized by not requiring such a high degree of skill to operate (as well as having hugely greater output, of course, in the correct but much more demanding conditions).
Swanz implied that to take away our machines would be to olbiterate human civilization ('swing from branches'). Not so. If we gave up tools also, I'd agree. Tools are much, much closer to our humanity than are machines. With even simple tools our civilization would be still recognizable. Machines define the other end: excess, maximum populations and overall control of environments.
I agree with Mumford's reviewer that a future without machines is a possibility, perhaps even a likelihood.