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Title:KEYNOTE: Demystifying Technology: Community inquiry for social change and transformative action
Author(s):Wolske, Martin
Subject(s):Community Informatics
Abstract:On 2 February 2014, Microsoft published on YouTube their “Super Bowl” commercial called Empowering []. The first sentence of the description is taken from the commercial and states: “Technology has taken us places we've only dreamed, empowering us to make the impossible possible.” The commercial concludes: “It [technology] gives hope to the hopeless. It gives voice to the voiceless.” Theory and research from a number of fields has raised concerns regarding the dominant technocentric and technological deterministic narrative of which this commercial is but one example. When technologies are understood as agents that act directly on thinking and learning, irrevocably driving our societal structures and cultural values external of the will of humans, social change can only be understood within evolutionary terms, with humans serving as the “reproductive organs of technology” as so eloquently described by Kevin Kelly. By contrast, a critical socio-technical systems approach begins to expose ways in which technological objects are socially constructed, with cultural, political, and economic values intentionally and unintentionally becoming embedded into the design, production, terms and policies of use, support, and end-of-life of technical systems. Critical awareness of the relationship between the social and the technical opens up selection of technical systems that more closely align with personal and community epistemology and ethics. Further, as we gain a greater awareness of technologies as innovations-in-use as opposed to fixed, one-size-fits-all implementations that are best left to “experts” to develop and modify, we gain agency to adapt technical systems as co-creators to more effectively achieve our personal and community goals. Drawing on his practice and teaching in community informatics and engagement scholarship, Martin Wolske will explore through theory and praxis how popular education and inquiry-based learning can demystify technology, advancing a critical approach to sociotechnical systems. By helping people deconstruct ways in which the social shapes, and is shaped by, the technical, we are better able to work in community, with community, for community to appropriate technologies so as to affect social change and transformative action.
Issue Date:2014-10
Citation Info:CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS: 11th Prato CIRN Conference October 13-15 2014, Monash Centre, Prato Italy
Genre:Presentation / Lecture / Speech
Rights Information:This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-10-15

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