Friday, September 13, 2013 Week
Key Issues and Debates
What are ICTs (Informational Communication Technologies), New, and Digital media?
What do ICTs include? They do something to information and turn it into something else
(a code for example), and that allows you to communicate differently.
- Gramophone (record player)
- New or Novel? Is iPhone5C new?
- What are the new media? Computing; communication networks; content (through
- What’s new for society about the new media? Devices that extend communication
abilities; social practices that make sense of them; the social arrangements and
organizations that form around them.
- Digital media are a numerical representation by using binary digits (0s and 1s)
- Digital information is programmable, alterable, compressed and decompressed,
manipulated. - Digital media lends itself to being networker, interactive hyper-mediated, automated
- Digital media also ‘remediate’ older media form – digital television, online news.
- Analogue media is fixed in time (example a book).
- Digital media can remediate what was done through an older media.
Why should we care about technology in sociology?
- Knowledge, organization, and social change: changes in sociotechnical systems alter
what it is possible to know, remember, and communicate.
- Social and personal relations: social relations are mediated by technologies, from the
letter and telegram to the tagged photo and the text message. Its not possible to have
certain social relations unless you have the means of communication to do so.
Example: receiving a snapchat or receiving and letter.
- But does technology shape society? Is there something about a specific technology
that causes a social change? We think that it does. There is something about
technology that has changed, for example, our ability to spell.
- Does society shape technology? Are specific technologies developed in the context of
social values and interests? They must be the product of social norms and values of
that time. Technology is the outcome of social change.
A Digital Revolution?
The Internet is the fabric of our lives. If information technology is the present-day
equivalent of electricity in the industrial era, in our age the Internet could be likened to
power of information throughout the entire realm of human activity (Castells 2002: 1) the
Industrial Revolution: transformation of organizations, work, family,
community, social solidarity, identity, and so on.
The associated changes in health, literacy, education, consumption, etc.
Are similar transformations underway?
Core economic, social, political, and cultural activities throughout the planet are being
structured by and around the Internet, and other computer networks. In fact, exclusion
from these networks is one of the most damaging forms of exclusion in our economy and
in our culture (Castells 2002: 3)
- Over the past 20 years or so, there is a sense that we have been going through
and speed of historical transformation. The single most important factor in this ise,
thought to be the information technology revolution. It is mistakenly thought that in
many ways everything that has occurred before is increasingly irrelevant. - Some want to take this even further:
- With the development of the Internet…we are in the middle of the most
transforming event since the capture of fire (Barlow, 1995: 6)
- Does the Digital Revolution signify such a dramatic break with the past?
- Should we define eras or cultures by their dominant technologies?
- down relations, and one-way communication, it is suggested that the Net hasties, top-
obliterated this kind of politics. We now think increasingly globally and locally, in
traditional spaces. This is increasingly based upon new communications media.
- capacity to challenge the existing political hierarchy’s monopoly on powerfults
communications media, and perhaps revitalise citizen-based democracy…
(Rheingold 1994: 14)
- The Net can penetrate national borders, giving voice to lone dissidents, oppressed
minorities, and citizen’s socio-political movements (Doheny-Farina 1996: 75)
- For some, the Internet represents a dramatic force in ushering in a new era of
companies not tied to physical place, a shift from manufacturing to knowledge
production, and so on.
- The network will draw us together, if that’s what we choose, or let us scatter
ourselves into a million mediated communities. Above all in countless new ways,
entertainment, information and each other (Bill Gates 1995: 273)touch with
- The rise of marketing and branding as‘informational or‘knowledge’work
- The rise of call centres across the globe; the global division of labour
- The rise of Internet gambling, pornography, shopping, and auctioneering
- Restructuring of commerce and culture through iPod, iPhone, e-bay…
- We increasingly experience the world through information technology – screens,
text, symbols, digital images, software – in a vast range of activities from
entertainment to shopping, chatting to memorizing, learning to working. For some,
this necessarily entails a transformation of who we are, what we think, and how we
relate to others
- What kind of ‘community’ do you belong to? A shift from physical place to virtual
space? Facebook; Twitter; MSN; etc.
- Is digital media use a solitary activity? A shift from collective to individual
practices? Digital gaming, etc.
- What does ‘mobility’ mean? The tendency to carry an ‘electronic ball and chain’
around with us everywhere? iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.
- Do ICTs replace public and private institutions? Digital ‘substitutes’ for the family,
public spaces, shops, schools, etc.
- Does most of our knowledge arrive through digital media? Do we know where it comes from? Is it knowledge? Wikipedia…
…it is no longer possible to treat social relations as arising simply from human
relations, to confine social interaction to the face-to-face interactions of human
‘agents’, or to talk of society in the same breath as the social. Objects and
technologies now exercise increasing power over our lives, to the extent that we can
no longer place humans as all-powerful agents at the centre of analysis, or even
presuppose what it means to be human (Gane 2004: 1)
- An increasing number of relationships are technologically mediated
- Such relationships appear to occur at unprecedented speed across time and space
- They are conducted through networks and exchanges rather than delineated social
- What if we are no longer aware of the ways in which technologies mediate our
- Are the basic categories of sociology called into question?
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 Week 2
History of the Web and Cyberspace
- New technologies
- We have to be cautious about predicts: because the interaction between technology
and society is unpredictable.
- Ages from been determined by what the main technology was. What you find is
it.h time there is a new machine or technology, very similar things are said about
o QUOTE FROM SLIDE Charles Francis Adam Jr. about industrial revolution
o Talking about railways particularly, unusual movements of people, moving at rapid
o QUOTE FROM SLIDE Lewis about radio
o The exact same thing from both quotes can be said about the web in the past.
- Everyone would be in power in this new society.
- All of the same promises laid out every time regardless of what the technology is.
- Technology and social change: sociologists need to be careful about that:
possible. Often sociologists take the opposite theory, it is things that happen in
society that develop technology. Social interest = shaping technology, usually
something to do with money or the military. Or they can say that neither of those
are true and there is a mutual shaping between the 2, technology and society.
A Brief History of the Internet
5 Key Developments
- Computers are re-conceptualized as communication devices rather than calculating machines.
oThey use to be thought of calculator machines. Something has to have occurred
technically and socially for them to be change to communication machines.
- The task of networking has to become the dominant process of computing.
- Computers are standardized, individualized and personalized
- Software and hardware are differentiated, with software applications becoming and
end in themselves.
- Hardware becomes mobile, software becomes ‘every ware’: cyberspace turns inside
Etymology of ‘Computing’
- Computer: ‘to reckon up; to ‘count on one’s fingers; in conjunction with numerare
- Calculate: counting of numbers with beads (calculi); calculus; computatio;
- Middle Ages: used to describe the problems of calculating the date of Easter; wider
use in astronomy; general use of the abacus
- 17 Century: computation – specific types of calendar; computers – those who
perform time calculations; satirist Swift in Gulliver’s Travels – ‘a computer’ would
enable one to master all the arts and sciences; development of machines that
calculate – the mechanization of logarithms and slides; computers still refers to
humans rather than non-humans.
- 19 Century: increasing use of calculations for navigation, production of
instruments; taxation; and so on
- 20 Century: world wars the context of the development of calculating machines,
often operated by women; increasing popularity of calculators as commodities; the
professionalization of ‘the computers’ leads to delegating work to machines; digital
technologies allow for portable machines to emerge – calculator now refers to a
machine; computing machine simply becomes computer; 1945 - humans now called
operators ‘in order to distinguish them from machines’
Culture and Politics of Computing: from calculation to communication
- 1957: Sputnik Launched; panic in the US
- innovative things. Initially a military agency; space/weapons to NASA; military
out, computing/psychology in.
- Computers as interactive machine; the merging of humans and computers
- mediate communication between human beings.the formulation of problems; it will
- and governmental community.s): used for sharing information among the academic
- around with this and building in their garage by ‘hacking’.Gates starting to play
- you can think have, more like a collection of blogs now. Looking for people who
are interested in the same things you are, they may not be close, but you are still
able to talk about it. - THE WELL: first ‘online communities.
- The Internet ‘transformed by its everyday uses’. Definitely the way to think about it
now, in terms of how very ordinary ways of technology have become the majority
From military to domestic technologies: how did computers become ‘friendly’? The
commercialization of this:
- ENIAC: calculating machine; speed and efficiency. The technical demands of the
- UNIVAC: computing systems; accessorizing; first signs of commercialization in
- Home Computer – second generation of computers between 1977 and 1981;
explicit attempts by Apple to reframe computers as consumer technologies; but still
oWe have shifted away from this now.
oBut before, we could put them in people’s homes and get them to use it more often.
- Personalization: IBM names its latest computer a PC; gaming as central route of
‘normalization’; rapid innovation; shrinking, speed and appearance
- Proliferation: multiple computers; work, education and leisure; communication now
each other?tural value of computing: what if the machines could communicate with
The World Wide Web
- The Web has brought a kindness and gentleness for users, a confidence in
technology, which is a balm for IT departments everywhere. It has brought new
hope…it will help us see where we each fit, with our own experience, talents and
together more effectively, remove misunderstanding, and bring about peace and
harmony on a global scale (Tim Berners-Lee 1998: 11)
- Hypertext: provides every piece of information with an address
- The actual location of the information becomes unimportant
- The Web allows for commercialization on a rapid scale: ‘user-friendliness’, a ‘face
for the Internet’
Web 2.0: dispersed, Uniquitous, and Mobile Media
- A series of applications that run on the web but that use a varying form of code.
- What is now known as Web 2.0 involves faster connectivity, content-generating eb
pages, immediacy, real-time interactivity, etc.
Internet History: main points
- science and military research and applications; the cold war period of computer
- emergence of Bulletin Board Systems - researchers using the networks for chat
basically - the most important system being USENET
- 1987 – 1993: The Internet as a general academic resource: with the terminals being
almost exclusively located within universities, the early Internet is primarily an
academic resource - a mixture of people being able to share research results and
gamingin real time - and also more informal chat networks, and forms of multi-user-
- supporting the World Wide Web as the central set of applications. The Internet now so vast, it is hard to conceptualize what it is, where it is, and how it works
The Internet and associated networks now supports all these forms of ‘information’ and
‘communication’, but platforms are reshaping that communication…
The Metaphor of Cyberspace
- every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…A graphic operators, in
representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human
system…Unthinkable complexity…clusters and constellations of data.
- Conceptualizing information as ‘space’.
- colonizing cyber space…stitutes a place: hence surfing, traveling in cyberspace, and
- Cyber-space: a novel space to be governed by whom?
- ‘Information Superhighway’: orderly, governed system
- ‘World-Brain’: will cyber-space develops its own consciousness?
- ‘Everyware’: from an external space or place to the very fabric of everyday life?
- Social Science:
o Cydemocratic groups, who wish to revitalize their dwindling communities.led’ by
o Cyby undemocratic corporations, big business, and government, who wish torolled
expand their capabilities for marketing, selling, branding and watching
individuals consumers; consumers watching each other all the time…
- Net History: this is complex and contingent history, which is as much a story of
social, cultural and political history as it is a technical history.
- Cyberspace: that is not self-evident why we should think of electronic data sent via
significant metaphors of the net. These are the ways of thinking we use without most
thinking, but they have real effects.
- Utopian/Dystopian: that, very often, critical thinking in this area has tended to be
polarized into two opposing definitions of Web futures, both reliant upon a series of
- Think back to technology and society relations: society shapes society those
research developments are producing electronic communication system. Because
society. Sure military is funding, but there are cultural changes involved such asng
consumers and wealth, sensibility, domestic sphere, what the home should be like,
Friday, September 20, 2013
Questions from Assignment #1:
- evidence, it is possible to assume that…” or “I believe on the basis of this
- Reflection: what is sociology, trying to connect an individual biography