May 1, 2017
- This course focuses on technology that we use in our daily lives.
- ICT= these specific tech we use all the time. Ex laptops, phones, etc.
Technology helps us with the communication and access to information. But it encroaches our capacities as a
human species because these technologies serve as distractions to inhibit our focus.
- Videos and readings will not be cumulative.
- Essay question will be though.
THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE SOCIETY
We are all users of technology, benefited from technology, and have been frustrated by technology.
This course focuses on the idea of being frustrated by technology, the scenario of encountering a
challenge that we cannot figure out. Also, examining critically the ways in which technology shapes our
environment I.e. our Social Reality.
Social reality speaks to how we see the world. We dont tend to realize how our understanding of the
world (how we see the world around us) is shaped and is reflective of particular things about the world,
unless until they are reflected back to us.
It is relevant in the sense that all sort of different factors must be considered in order to see how a
person sees the world For instance, religion (the belief of a higher power).
The underlying issue is there is nothing particularly real or true. Reality is essentially something that
we imagine and create based on who we are, where we are. A persons reality does not measure off an
ultimate reality. Our social realities inform what carries a meaning to us and what isnt meaningful.
The idea that technology is a marker of success, this course examines the relationship between the
interaction between humans and technology.
Conspicuous consumption involves the things we buy so people see us with them. The idea that we
need to use this technology is a marker of our success as a civilization.
The primary interest is to make money. Money can be made by creating or by eroding quality, or by
creating alternatives. There are all sorts of factors that get into the idea we have that things will get better.
We cannot take things we hear, see at face value.
There is nothing changeable about our social reality; there is no core to say that this is the essence of
HOW DOES TECHNOLOGY SHAPE OUR SOCIAL REALITY?
Emma: [email protected]
Advertising: To pass across a common message, we need technology
How we get news: echo chamber Cookies that shape/track preferences (online cookies)
Digital divide: Technological exclusion (people who do not have access to be online. Could
be a variety of reasons why this exists, including age, environment
A lot much more can be done with the current state of technology we have now. However, the
emphasis on convenience + amusement, and the monetization of content have taken a toll of
May 3, 2017
TA Office Hours
- Alex: Tuesdays 11-12pm
- Michelle: Wednesdays 2:45-3:45pm
- Victoria: Friday 1-2pm (Skype)
A critical approach to Tech + Society
- To develop a better appreciation of how much we rely upon technology (ICT)
- To implicate our actions today in the tech. of the future.
Our engagement with technology is passive; we use technology and try to fit our lives around the tech.
Due to the advent of technology, things have gotten easier, and at the same time, harder. Passivity-
listening and shorter attention spans are included in the effectiveness of studying in a university in the
days of technology. In essence, effectiveness is shortened.
- How our brains function and what they do is that they can only focus on one thing at a time;
this negates the idea of multi-tasking like we believe. This also reduces the quality of work
In order to curb passivity, we need to:
Enhance our awareness
Get ahead outside of the box (of popular messaging about what technology will do for us)
In order to improve something, we need to objectively challenge it to lead to innovation.
We have not given much thought to our critically reliant or dependent on technology like electricity,
Internet, and it is only in the moments that they are taken away we realize this dependence. Getting out of the box implies our heads are in a box filled with clichs that continually tell us the
need to get the latest technology/devices. A lot of us do not realize however, that advertisers want us
to be always receiving of their new products. Consumers think they are savvy of the products they
purchase, but instead, they are passive recipients.
ICT = Information and Communication Technology. It is not limited to, but it specifically talks about
our computers and phones etc.
ICT in Media
- News media (traditional media, old media, newspapers, radio and T.V., mass media)
- Social media (aka new media, the internet)
We will try to distinguish between both sets of media.
News media is a form of one-way communication
Social media on the other hand has a platform for a two way communication
Note: notes to the editor which can be seen as a counter to the one-way communication
argument is even countered with the fact that editors can decide to post it or not.
It is imperative to recognize not ICT technology, e.g. a vacuum cleaner, clocks, etc. because they do
not embody the communication part of ICT.
Sociology of Technology
The social part of us is an essential part of out humanity and how it distinguishes us form other
animals in ways that are meaningful.
Social activities speak to our complexity as a species For instance, the concept of love. Due to the
complexity of humans, it is almost impossible to determine the effect of stimulants (like
advertisement) and its effects on humans.
The focus of sociology is emphasized in the consequences of technology defined as ICT (how tech
shapes our interaction and world view). (Focus on the consequences of religion: how religion shapes
Neil Postman: 5 things
There is always a trade off: Here, he reminds us that s technology changes, it always comes as
a trade off. Something has to be given up in order to facilitate change. The trade off is not
immediate; it is a gradual long-term process. For example, the emergence of the Internet circa
1995 (became mainstream), the emergence of the URL (Universal Resource Locator), the
online address for websites. It was welcomed and the URL was taken as another avenue for information. Primary ways to receive information before this were to call a toll-free number
and to go to the governments office. The onus is on us to identify the tradeoff in each
What benefits some harms others: Technological change never benefits everyone. There exist
winners and losers. It is a mistake to perceive technological change as being universally
beneficial. This can be linked to the digital divide (people that have access to technology and
those who do not have such access), and the losers in this regard end up being even more
Embedded in all technology are assumptions and ideas that influence how we behave:
(Culturally contingent assumptions and ideas) This is contrary to the notion that technology is
neutral (it is a neutral tool that depends on how it is used, for instance, the hammer).
Embedded in technology are assumptions and ideas that inform behavior. There is a spectrum,
which is called the continuum of use. The MIC (military industrial complex). A challenge
in the ethics of the use of tools in technology.