The social implications of emerging technologies

Kostakos, V., O’Neill, E., Little, L. and Sillence, E. 2005. The Social Implications of Emerging Technologies. <i>Interacting with Computers</i> 17:5, September 2005, pp. 475-483.

From this editorial and in response to my post below, I would say that “technology” is a too broad a label and that “computing” is, for now, narrow enough to make arguments about it. W.r.t. “technology”, consider this: Kostakos et al. (2005) are willing to include the discovery of fire under their definition of technology. This make sense to me. This is not useful to me because I, personally, am not interested in understanding how to design “fire-based” technologies to encourage closeness in a family. (Who is to say? Perhaps we should have a field of Human-Fire Interaction :p) However, Kostakos et al. are very comfortable discussing the design of “computing” in the home. The term they use is: “mobile and pervasive computing”. My sense is that the umbrella term, “ubiquitous computing”, sits at a level that is broad enough to encompass a class of objects and narrow enough to include (pretty much) all that I am interested in studying.

Side Note: I wonder if this term “computing” is more useful because the definition of computing is more concrete than that of technology. Additionally, is it more concrete because we can envision a class of objects that are “computers” and aren’t? This goes back to my prior post. My opinion is that “computing” is recognizable now, so, “computing” in the home is a useful term — now. If computing seeps into every aspect of society, in an unrecognizable way, then maybe “computing” will become as vague as “technology”. I believe that I am speculating about the future. Meanwhile, I will continue to use “computing” as a focusing term for my research. </end speculation>

I would also say that even so, the statement that “computing in the home isolates its members” is not clear cut.

This is important to me because I am trying to frame my research. So far, I can say I am interested in the home and that I am interested in designing (computing-based) technology for it. I cannot say that I am motivated to do this because “computing” isolates family-members. More to come later.

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Filed under CHI, cscw, ubicomp

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