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Queen's University
SOCY 284
Ryan Martin

Info/Communication Technology Friday, September 13, 2013 Week 1 Key Issues and Debates What are ICTs (Informational Communication Technologies), New, and Digital media? ICTs 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. - Alphabet - Book - Telegraph - Gramophone (record player) - Typewriter - Telephone - Radio - Television - Computer - Ipod - Tablet New Media - New or Novel? Is iPhone5C new? - What are the new media? Computing; communication networks; content (through convergence) - 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. Analogue/Digital - 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 and database. - 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) History - 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? Politics - 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) - Twitter… Commerce - 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… Social Relations - 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… Social Theory …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 structures - What if we are no longer aware of the ways in which technologies mediate our actions? - Are the basic categories of sociology called into question? Wednesday, September 18, 2013 Week 2 History of the Web and Cyberspace Technological Revolutions - 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 speed. 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 out. 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; calculation; - 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 Unintended Uses - 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 aspect. 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 military. - UNIVAC: computing systems; accessorizing; first signs of commercialization in business - Home Computer – second generation of computers between 1977 and 1981; explicit attempts by Apple to reframe computers as consumer technologies; but still associated with‘work’. 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 Theorizing Cyber-Space - 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… Concluding Points - 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 myths. - 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, personalization. Friday, September 20, 2013 Questions from Assignment #1: - evidence, it is possible to assume that…” or “I believe on the basis of this evidence…” - Reflection: what is sociology, trying to connect an individual biography
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