Technomana is the ability, or the potential, to use technological means to animate the physical world. It is a techno-magical parallel to what techno capitalists call “software engineering.” Alternately, technomana also refers to the influences of a given place’s ambient mana, generally, on the ways that entities such as people are able to manifest their technological potentials, i.e., their manatechne. Certain flavors of technomana can thus repress or nourish certain outcomes.
Origin and context¶
The term technomana was coined in a conversation between Maymay and red_clover in part as a way to express the feeling Tech Autonomists have of a “Dead Place” as it related to technomagical potential.1
Maymay: So…there is this idea I have about “places that feel technomagically dead” and I want a word or phrase that evokes it. Silicon Valley is the epitome of this thing and, having spent time there, I can tell you that there is an ambient…artificiality?…about the whole place. This was satirized rather fecklessly by the HBO TV series of the same name (Mike Judge’s “Silicon Valley,” which I actually really enjoy but not for the same reasons I think actual Silicon Valley tech workers enjoy it) and so it is, in many ways, a culturally-recognized phenomena. Everyone is selling you their “app,” for instance. But it’s deeper than that in this…intangible, spiritual way, which is the thing I’m trying to get at but can’t. It’s the thing that came to a head for me when I said to myself, “fuck it, I must leave,” and then began hitchhiking. I returned a number of times but each time was further convinced that the place is basically the equivalent of technomagic’s Hellmouth.
red_clover: Mmmhmm. I’ve encountered this deadness before (Aurora, Colorado is Dead in every way).
Maymay: Yeah, a lot of places are “dead.” But this place in particular is a special kind of dead that is actually quite lively and yet magically dead in this specific way. […] Maybe actually it’s not about being dead. Maybe it’s about being the polar opposite of technomagic, like an oppositional force rather than the lack of a living one. Because it’s not like there isn’t a Force of some kind in Tech Mordor, it’s just that the force that exists is overwhelmingly painful to whatever force nourishes my technomana.
In this context, technomana evokes the notion of some supernatural influence(s) over the technomagical potential of a given person in a given place, in a way similar to that of the Western Fantasy imagination of MP. Tech Mordor, a derogatory reference to Silicon Valley and a tongue-in-cheek reference to this shallow understanding of mana by recalling the Tolkien story of The Lord of the Rings, is a place that is said to be “technomagically dead.”
However, more deeply, technomana refers to the dexterity with which a given (“technical”) person can simultaneously navigate through and reshape the information-spaces in which they find themselves, or through which they metaphorically “travel.” It is like the wake of a boat on the surface of a water; the wake is both defined by the water and moves the water. Small boats must mind the wake of larger boats, for their own safety. In this way, technomana again is shown as intertwined with a certain amplitude, or amount of power. On the Web, one can shape the information-spaces one travels by creating hyperlinks between one place and another. How intentionally one does so, to where, and with what specific semantics the addresses use, is a small example of the application of one’s technomana on the Web; technomagically, the act of linking is manatechne.
Technomana and technoderacination¶
In technomagical terms, a technodera has only a little, or weak, technomana. Through the process of Severance, technomana is depleted, as one’s spiritual or magical connection to technology is cut off. Perhaps counterintuitively to some, the process of reconnecting to one’s technomagical powers begins with reconnecting to the Earth as a technology in its own right. (The Understanding of this process is a form of technokatalepsis.) This is because technomana, like all mana, originates from and is informed by The World,2 both in material and intangible form.
Maymay described the technoderatic process of technocapitalism and how it depletes one’s technomana like so:3
Well, “Mordor” is Mordor because it is a scorched-Earth place. That’s what the Tolkien imagination describes, anyway: a geographically bound region wherein nothing connected to the Earth can exist. Everything there is extractive: mines, industry, war machines. Tech Industry (distinct from “a culture of technology”) is Mordor because it is the intentional abstraction of the capacities of natural systems into Industrial ones whose purpose is to increasingly distance a human from the life-sustaining attributes of The World.
That is Technocapitalism at its most virulent. You will find no opportunity to fluidly transition between or holistically integrate the various aspects of lowercase-t technology in those places because the techno-capitalists have erected massive systems that intentionally atomicize specific roles (‘jobs’) for the purpose of funneling power and wealth to people like Zuckerberg.
If you want to learn technology, you should reconnect yourself to the Earth. The Internet is not an amorphous cloud, but a physical network of copper and energy waves. If you want to become proficient, you need to know where those are, how they work. You need to be able to see a tree and think of it as an organism that extends underneath the topsoil laid on top of the Earth. The same holds true for the Internet. You wanna learn about the Internet? Then learn to “talk” to the parts of it that are invisible, and understand that those parts were invisibilized for a specific purpose, and that purpose is probably someone else’s interest, antithetical to yours.
I mean, that sounds kind of woo-woo but I’m being serious. If you take the time to talk to the Internet, and you listen carefully enough, the Internet will talk back to you. But so will the sky and the trees. These are not different skills, is my point.
That’s what I mean by lowercase-t technology: the weather impacts radio transmissions. This is a technology. Ham radio folks will tell you stories about this. But people who are in this to make money are looking for ways to resist the influences of, say, a cloudy day, rather than learning about why there are clouds and what use they have for us and how to integrate ourselves healthily with all the other things on this planet that need clouds to survive.
“Clouds” are technologies. But technology will make you think it is “The Cloud.” Bull. Shit.
The FSFE has this "no cloud" campaign and I think they are generally correct but they don’t take this to its logical extreme, as I do.