Posted by: chrissypurcell | September 30, 2012

Technological Determinism

I’ve always been fascinated by the sociology of space – specifically, how spatial conditions affect and shape social interactions.  (Check out social theorist George Simmel if you want to nerd out on this topic.) As we move towards a digital culture, we have new “spaces” shaping our interactions and to me, this idea of space relates to the idea of technological determinism discussed in chapter 7 of our text. This might be a stretch, but hear me out:

The same way architects and urban planners can influence movement and interaction in a city, are mobile developers changing the face of social interaction one user at a time? When was the last time you talked to a stranger while you waited for a bus instead of checking your phone? Could the same be said of reading a book? Would you talk to a stranger at all?

I think the conversation about give-and-take between social agency vs. influence by technology becomes an even more interesting one as our technologies evolve. Basically, to what degree are new media developers designing tools to enhance social function and serve a collective need, and to what degree are these new technologies creating needs that weren’t there before (thereby shaping/controlling social life)?


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