Throughout the industry age and now in the information age, the Amish have adhered to the long tradition of manufacturing as a primary form of work.
The fact that the Amish have also started making digital technologies, such as the blackbox phone that served as an intended replacement for cell phones, should come as no surprise. However, the Blackbox phone is just one of many examples of an increasing number of communication technologies developed for Amish people by Amish people. These devices are designed to the most accurate to complete professional goals, while limiting the negative effects that come with digital communication today. The Amish recognize that this certainly has political consequences. Manufacturing in general, and manufacturing of digital technologies in particular, further enable the Amish to exercise their creativity, resist surveillance and control and maintain their lifestyle in the digital age.
The way the Amish use technologies reveals a great deal about the relationship they want to have with the wider community. In addition to the blackbox phone, I have observed a number of Amish solutions which reflects local values and is determined by social context. The particular collection that includes a solution may also signal one’s Amishness or common group identity.
For example, according to several Amish leaders, when a technology such as a smartphone or cell phone is used by a member of an Amish community, it is considered rude to make it flashy. According to my contact Noah, the visibility of one’s digital technology use should be minimized in an attempt to show respect for common Amish values, heritage and tradition. In a discussion with him and another participant, a business owner who used a computer and the Internet daily at work, both men agreed that people used these tools, but because of their desire to show respect for the community and its values. , they did it “out of sight” and “they just did not talk about it”, or they “knew who they could talk to about it and who they could not.” In an attempt to achieve the desired goals of effective enough communication via a cell phone or smartphone while showing respect for Amish community leaders, these individuals created a kind of solution. They used their devices, but only out of sight of others whom they knew were likely to reject.
I interviewed Ben, a 30-year-old office manager at a company that sold a product for $ 2 million a year on a popular online auction site. He was sitting at his computer under electric light fixtures during our conversation. Ben used an IP phone, a computer and the Internet at work. In his church, cell phones were allowed. He said, “I would not take my cell phone to church or answer it at church or show it to the neighbor and say, ‘Look what I have,’ if their church does not allow it. You have to use it with respect. ” Ben was also convinced that if used responsibly, technology was “not a big deal.” However, he believed that the technology would continue to move forward and it was useful for running a successful business. Sure, he said, he and his employer (a family member) wanted to keep their close community together, but they also felt that “you need to get the most out of what you have, and that’s what we have.” He said, “You know we can do this without technology, but why should we? We use technology in a way that does not conflict with our morals.”
At the beginning of my fieldwork in a village, I was accompanied to a few interviews by the director of a local historical community and museum, who helped me get acquainted with the local community. The director was with me when I interviewed Dennis, a successful business owner whose construction company had a website. He told us how he owned (but did not drive) trucks for his business. He described his many voyages to Europe on a luxurious cruise ship. He told us he liked the “classic” things in life and impressed us with his extensive volunteer work in several elite communities and bank boards. His wife used a smartphone at home to keep in touch with family members who lived far away, and his three sons were now also co-owners of the business.