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IU / OTHER / INFO-I 202 / Do artifacts have politics?

Do artifacts have politics?

Do artifacts have politics?


School: Indiana University
Department: OTHER
Course: Social Informatics
Professor: Jennifer terrell
Term: Spring 2017
Tags: Social_informatics, Tech_determinism, and Tech
Cost: 50
Name: Exam 1
Description: LEcture outlines for first 5 weeks
Uploaded: 02/09/2017
7 Pages 6 Views 14 Unlocks

I202 Review for Exam 1: Basic Outline of lectures terms to  consider

Do artifacts have politics?


Can Technology be political?

Social Informatics is not the study of impacts of technology in society, but we do  recognize that technologies are powerful social forces.

Technology is not good, or bad, or neutral.

 University of Chicago

∙ Open system for wif

∙ “creates” more “knowledge”

Harvard University  

∙ Truth

∙ Uses a registered login system


Look it up, kinda funny yet unimportant  

Revolution in Middle East

∙ Uses social media for communication

∙ Governments shut down certain websites

∙ VPNs used to try and circumvent it



∙ “The authoritative allocation of scarce resources” (Easton)

∙ “Arrangements of power and authority in human associations as well as the  activities that take places in those arrangements” (Winner)

What is power in the context of architecture?

∙ “Who gets what, when, how” (Laswell)

Do artifacts have politics?

Power in architecture:


Lecture hall, professor has power.

Circular set up, makes for conversation

New York:

Robert Moses, city planner; supposedly racist

Jones Beach, no public transit, only personal cars could get there. Therefore, no  poverty stricken, minorities, etc.

Other designs kept people from public goods  

Designed pool with particularly cold water because there was a theory that African  Americans don’t like cold water???

Paris and Hausmann(the architect/city planner):

Designed beautiful boulevards

smaller streets before Hausmann.  

Revolts blocked off the small streets  

Hausmann designed giant boulevards that couldn’t be blocked off near as easily Berlin Wall We also discuss several other topics like what is Two­ factor theory?

Meant to divide east and west Berlin

Why did they put up the Berlin Wall?

Detroit Race Wall

Technologies meant to keep homeless from sleeping in public space


Designed to browse web anonymously  

Limits ability to censor

Technologies can be inherently political or have unintended consequences Biases:

Pre-existing bias

∙ VR designs  

∙ Cockpits too big for female pilots

∙ Crash test dummies lead to less safe cars for women

∙ Turn Facebook activity into credit score

∙ People given scores in china based on lots of things If you want to learn more check out what is the total molecular equation?

Technical bias

∙ Infrared tech doesn’t work well on black people or tattoos on wrist. Emergent Bias

∙ Confrmation bias

∙ Gives you info that reinforces your opinion

∙ Twitter taught Microsoft’s AI chatbot to be a racist asshole in less than a day  (best title ever)

Info202 W3L2


What is one way in which technology has politics?

Technical Bias- Apple watch

Emergent bias- VR

Pre-existing- Robert Moses Don't forget about the age old question of Runaway train effect

You can anticipate, but not control a social (market)

Sociotechnical system- a heterogenous system composed of both social and  technological elements

Technologies mostly fail

“hot desking”

Offices that are different from traditional

No cubicles

Open offices, flexible workspaces If you want to learn more check out What are the four Myers-Briggs dichotomies?

Architectures of creativity

Hot desking doesn’t work

Office layouts are a form of memory

Working from home doesn’t always work

Google thinks play increases productivity

Facebook has nap pods


Laptops for education for children in developing countries

Social Informatics w4l1

Video killed the radio star

Tech failures:

One laptop per child

Kids don’t necessarily know how to use computers

3 big frameworks

Technological determinism

Social Construction of Technology

Mutual Shaping

Framework Defnition: Narratives, Theories, Ways of thinking and talking about  things, ways of understanding

Technological Determinism  

Technology Society

Technology impacts society

Tech drives change, society adapts

Technological development follows a natural logic, which is beyond cultural or  political influence. Developments impact  

Example of Technological Determinism

Robots and automated machines put human laborers out of job Typewriter brought women into workforce

Social media makes us narcissistic

The printing press brought the age of enlightenment We also discuss several other topics like Who is the first to propose evolutionary mechanism?

The birth control pill created the sexual revolution  

Ideal of progress- technology used to attempt to remedy social problems Analyze John Gast’s American Progress  

Telegraph wires and poles

Chicago World Fair

Motto was: Science fnds, industry applies, man conforms

Technological determinism is popular because it feels scientifc because it offers a  single cause and single effect

Its predictive

Utopian/dystopian visions and stories

Moores Law

Weaknesses of Technological determinism  

Implies suspension of ethical judgement or social control

People may be treated as a means to an end

Shown to be inaccurate in serious historical study

It can lead to a simplistic and misguided technological interventions in complex  social situations

How do we escape TD?

Guns in Japan

Mennonites and Amish

The wheel was not adopted everywhere

Technologies are so appealing that most consumers will buy them if you can.  Counter argument

Tech is always part of a larger system

Why do technologies get adopted?

Relative economice  


Study guide will be provided for exam

Some multiple choice

Some write ins

Roger Cohen is guest speaking next Wednesday If you want to learn more check out what is mental image?

Extra credit for writing him questions (do that)

Technological determinism: perspective that tech drives social change, tech impacts society

Self-driving cars used by uber puts people out of jobs.

Why do technologies get adopted?

Technological determinism doesn’t hold up when we look at it historically Questions to ask when getting out of tech determinism

1 in what other way could the tech be developed


Factory work is amazing…NOT

Social construction

Society --> Technology

What actors are involved in the development of technology?

Investors, consumers, developers, researchers, politicians, inventors, competitors  Internet explorer  

Interpretive flexibility

Social shaping of technology

Tech -> society: Tech Determinism

Tech <- society: SCOT

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”

“You don’t bring a knife to gun fght” -Chuck Norris

Mutual/co-shaping of tech and society

To explore mutual shaping, remember that artifacts have politics Disciplinary architectures

Intended and unintended consequences


Mutual shaping distributes agency and power

Technological affordances

Social INFO


Roger Cohen guest speaker

Columnist for NY Times

Grew up in Britain/South Africa

A lot of noise in the world

Got news from 3 networks or newspapers in the past


False statements and accusations that aren’t based in fact i.e. false Distinction between true and false is blurred

Autocratic society needs to destroy the line between true and false Autocracy needs a disoriented public

Speed>Truth for some god forsaken reason

Too late once a story is out

Nobody fact checks anything anymore, they just pass it around Horner started story that Clinton paid protestors 3500 to go protest Was not true  

How can you build an algorithm to sort true from false?

Post-truth- when facts are less important to peoples opinion than appeals to  emotion and personal belief.

Britain leaving the EU

Said they give 350M a year to EU

Voted themselves out

Learned it wasn’t 350M

Fake news is unfortunately successful

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