COMN 2500 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Premier Election Solutions, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Sociotechnical System

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23 Jul 2016
Section One: Introductory Concepts
Critical Information Studies – Siva Vaidhyanathan
Critical information studiesconsiders the way in which culture and information are
regulated, hence their relationship to commerce, creativity, science, technology,
politics, and other human affairs.
It investigates four fields of scholarly analysis and debates
1. Ability to use and manipulate cultural texts/ideas/info
2. Right to users to alter the means/techniques through cultural texts and info
3. Relationship between information, control, property rights, technologies and
social norms
4. Cultural, political, social and economic results of global flows of culture and
Diebold Example:
In early 2003 an enterprising cyber snoop found a collection of memos from employees
of Diebold Election Systems, Inc. that had been left exposed on an Internet server. That
person downloaded the memos and found a rich array of information that indicts the
quality and security of the electronic voting machines that Diebold rented to states and
counties across the United States. Several critics, academics, and students then posted
copies of the memos on Web sites since the memos were essential to public debate about
the effectiveness, fairness, and security of the American electoral system. Diebold then
fought back, since those memos are copyrighted.
Authorship: An author is the “originator” of the material and immaterial form of song,
book, painting, etc.
Foucault and Barthes challenge this idea…
The meaning of a given work is bound to context, not independent of the readership and
all that they bring to a work, all that an audience does to “make” a work mean something
(i.e. through criticism, derivative works, and so on)
Ideology – Nealon and Giroux
Ideology – study of ideas
Marxist believe it as something that’s false or misleading because its mystifying
ex: cellphones making people more “Free” when in reality it takes time and money away
form people or that youth crime occurs because of bad parenting, bad genes, bad
teachers, etc.… Ideology shifts the blame to others
What is an information society?
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Quantitative Limitations of Information
Technology (Google: Behind the Screen)
Stephen Kline: there are four different ways technology can be defined
1. Hardware/Artefacts – common usage
2. Sociotechnical systems of manufacture – process of manufacturing hardware
3. Knowledge/technique/know-how – any form of rationalized methodology
4. Sociotechnical system of use – what we do with the hardware
2 main ways of looking at culture:
Culture as a way of life (Williams)
Culture as “high culture” (traditional, refined, “civilized)
Popular culture
Common culture
Section Two: Basic Problems
Week 7 – Technological Determinism
Key terms: Technological Determinism and Cultural Determinism
Technological determinism – technology that determines how our society is
Cultural determinism – All social relations are determined by cultural processes,
productions and practices (3P’s)
oTwo determinism don’t make a right
oExample: Winston readings- The idea of the Camera
oHow are Media Born – The Great man account – how technology is
attributed to a specific person
Week 8 – Labour, Information, and Communication
Key Terms: Scientific Management & Taylorism
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