March 19, 2014
• Next week, watching documentary A Crude Awakening—on fossil fuel addiction, the
energy crisis, economic growth/de-growth, the end of the world, etc.
• March 28 is the course evaluation.
• April 2 special workshop for research project (submitting the final version); take-home
handed out on April 2 and April 4.
o Exam will not be posted online—will be due on April 17.
• Principle of Symmetry
o First coined by Bloor;
It means, impartial to a statement being true or false.
Symmetrical with respect to explaining truth/falsity.
Nature is the result, not the cause of a statement becoming a true fact
o Next by Pinch & Bijker;
Technology as being impartial to a machine being success or failure.
Symmetrical with respect to explaining success/failure.
Working is the result, not a cause of a machine becoming success/failure.
o In actor-network, symmetry is;
Impartial to an actor being human/inhuman.
Symmetrical with respect to explaining social world/technical world.
The distinction between the technical and the social is the result, not the
cause, of the stabilization of the actor-network.
• Nonhuman Actor (technology as agency)
o Example; Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968)—two nonhuman
actors acting and changing each other.
The chimp realised its power through creating a tool out of an immobile,
‘useless’ jawbone. • First it was just flipping other bones over, but later
physically/mentally transformed itself into an aggressive, kind of
• Ape has been transformed due to the tool, turning into Man.
• Physical anthropologist would describe this as an early process of
• The ape is not the only one being transformed; so is the bone. The
bone becomes a hammer, and then a club, handy for killing—this
is the birth of warfare in geopolitics.
o Tools are never simple utensils under human control to
fulfill an established purpose.
o Ape goes through a shift of action by creating a link with
the bone, which modifies them both.
Translation a new goal or possibility, previously not
foreseen, has been created.
o Ape, with his tribe mates, would later kill the leader of a
neighbouring tribe for a puddle of stale water. Consider
modern warfare today.
• Last week’s reading Mixing Humans and Nonhumans Together; The sociology of a
o Technology implicitly suggests its applications and alternative uses to humans.
May change or intermingle human’s course of action;
• Ie. Alarm clock waking person up to commit to
o Earlier version of Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few
Mundane Artifacts (Bijker)
o Akrich The De-scription of Technological Objects
Technical objects participate in building heterogeneous networks that
bring together actants of all types and sizes whether human or
• Script the concept tries to capture the structuring actions of
technical objects, how they enable and constrain the relationships
between person-things and person-people.
• Designers Inscription in the process of inscription, designers
define actors with specific tastes, motives, political