Explain the myths associated with technology and the danger in embracing these myths. 2. Why do these myths stymie a critical evaluation of technology? 3. What role does the media play in fostering these myths?

Feng article questions

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1. Explain the myths associated with technology and the danger in embracing these myths.

2. Why do these myths stymie a critical evaluation of technology?

3. What role does the media play in fostering these myths?

Myths and Design

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Design, according to the myths, is dictated solely by logic and rational methods of engineering and science.

Social scientific, humanities counter-assertion:

All human products, whether they be toys, guns, or software programs must be accomplished through language, culture, social organizations, economics, social structure, etc.

These also lend “valence” or tendencies to products. Valence is an alternative to a problematic dichotomy:

“Guns kill” Problem: Too deterministic in terms of basic functionality and dismissive of use.

“Guns don’t kill, people do” Problem: Too deterministic in use and dismissive of potential in functionality

Design

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Consider design choices for 1) guns and 2) video surveillance. What components of the technologies are a) necessary to achieve basic functionality and b) supplementary or conditional?

Trajectory

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Trajectory according to the myths:

· Technology proceeds according to its own internal dynamics.

Example of Moore’s Law.

· Intel co-founder said the computer power of chips will double every 18 months. By calling it a “law”, the suggestion is that it is inevitable.

Counter-assertion to trajectory as an internal dynamic:

1. Technology can not go forward without institutional support.

2. The gritty process of stabilization is forgotten over time.

3. The “best” technology does not always win.

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· So if we disregard the myths, we can consider social context and how it influences the design and use of technology.

· We need to be aware of power relations that are central to all social interactions

· You are not your user: design for your users and be aware of diverse populations and situations

· Where and by whom will the software or tool be used?

· What is the social responsibility of the developer?

Conclusions:

1. No uncontested reasons for remaining passive when it comes to technology.

2. Even non-experts have a right to participate in decisions.

The social significance of the Internet

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Brey’s article

1. Brey provides a lengthy list of perceived benefits and harms from the Internet. Select any two and for each one provide an example from your experience.

2. Consider this problem of dishonesty: some students taking a test through Blackboard open an instant message or email program and send answers to classmates. How could technological delegation, structuration, and signification be used to fight this practice?

Brey’s list of Internet consequences

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Perceived benefits:

1. access to information

2. information dissemination

3. communication

4. social relations

5. community formation

6. production and commerce

7. leisure and entertainment

8. identity formation and psychological development

9. learning and cognitive development

10. cultural understanding

Perceived harms:

1. information overload

2. false information

3. harmful information

4. harmful effects on social relations

5. harmful effects on community and social organization

6. harmful effects on production and commerce

7. harmful effects on learning and cognitive development

8. cultural fragmentation

9. loss of sense of reality

10. loss of privacy and private-public boundaries

Impacts of technology can be changed:

1. technological delegation (redesign or reconfigure the technology to “change the likelihood of occurrence of certain social and cultural consequences.”

2. structuration (change its use by means of policies and laws)

3. signification (change the way its interpreted)