February 2004 Archives

Technology isn't the real problem - BUT, it might be

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From Technology isn't the real problem:

"A person trapped in the cold can use a cell phone to call a tow truck. Medical advances mean people once doomed are now up and moving. Information - as well as trash and useless drivel - is immediately available on the Internet."
...
"Technology isn't the issue. The problems and the answers are within our hearts, not in our factories."

But let us not forget that technology can be a problem. For example, if the potentials of the nuclear power were not known during the WWII, there would have been no nuclear device capable of indiscriminate mass destruction.

So, rather then claim that "Technology isn't the real problem" or that humans and the human behavior is not the real problem, we should embrace the reality that BOTH humans and technologies can be problems (together or separately from each other), dependent on the context and its immediate as well as distant environments both in time and space.
[see Social constructionism vs. technological determinism,
technology's performative function - limitations and restrictions,
Technology makes us unwitting slaves - BUT it does not have to be that way]

What we need is wisdom to balance the technological and social forces with the intention to improve the human conditions around the world. What we should be concerned is when technology is used to achieve materialistic goals with no concern for human life and human dignity.

"OPEN SOURCE" TO BOOST USE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES

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"OPEN SOURCE" TO BOOST USE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES

"(AGI) - Rome, Feb. 25 - In order to promote innovation, we need to set up new "open source" models and solutions and projects that are aimed at developing specific solutions for SMEs in Italy and the Public Administration. These projects, as surveys by the Observatory Digital Cities (OCID), Rur and Censis reveal, indicate that the public administration can act as a driving force, by experimenting with and adopting innovative solutions."

The machine that invents ?!

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From The machine that invents:

"His first patent was for a Device for the Autonomous Generation of Useful Information," the official name of the Creativity Machine, Miller said. "His second patent was for the Self-Training Neural Network Object. Patent Number Two was invented by Patent Number One. Think about that. Patent Number Two was invented by Patent Number One!"

Is it really possible for machines to 'invent'? Can the machines really discover anything more then what has been imbedded/inscribed into their design implicitly or explicitly by the human designers. Perhaps it would be wiser to say that machines can discover things quicker due to their enormous computing power. But, discoveries and inventions are two different activities.

How infocomm technology can help revive ASEAN economies

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From How infocomm technology can help revive ASEAN economies:

"Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong has said that ASEAN should harness the advantages of information technology to help its member countries' economies to grow."

The reliance on information and communication technologies to help the economical growth is well justified. However, the potential provided by the info.comm technologies should not be taken out of context. There are other factors such as social, political, policy, environmental, etc., that work hand-in-hand with IT to produce positive results. Information and communication technologies do not get created in isolation. Their successful use and implementation depends to a great extent on the context within which they are being utilized.

is the UN's information society summit doomed to fail?

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Why UN's information society summit is doomed to fail provides and interesting analysis about why the UN's information society summit might fail.

Here are the two reasons it provides:

  • The first is the United States' position that profit -- or even the potential for profit -- is more important than the goals of the WSIS.
  • The second reason is procedural. The United Nations prefers to operate by consensus. So as long as any one member of the WSIS objects to a portion of the plan, the plan cannot move forward.

I think that both of these arguments are valid. However, they might not be sustainable over longer period of time. If the Internet is to be one of the driving forces for the economical development of third world economies, it would mean that the corporate grip of the Internet may not be able to survive for to long. Simply said, those affected by the Internet would like to have some say about its operation. As the people effected are not western centric any more, there would be more noises such as those heard at the WSIS.

Whether the UN is the right organization for the worldwide manageability of the Internet only time will show. The WSIS attempt is perhaps just a start. Other ventures will be attempted in the near future. Few things must be ensured though: there should be no censorship on the Internet, its economic potentials should be equally available to all around the world. So, as it appears then, the main problem might not necessarily be with the Internet. Better economies in the third world countries will give them more leverage when the next 'WSIS' comes around.

From Effective use: A community informatics strategy beyond the Digital Divide:

Abstract:
A huge industry has been created responding to the perceived social malady, the "Digital Divide". This paper examines the concepts and strategies underlying the notion of the Digital Divide and concludes that it is little more than a marketing campaign for Internet service providers. The paper goes on to present an alternative approach — that of "effective use" — drawn from community informatics theory which recognizes that the Internet is not simply a source of information, but also a fundamental tool in the new digital economy.

The Digital Library Federation (DLF)

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Digital Library Federation:

The Digital Library Federation (DLF) is a consortium of libraries and related agencies that are pioneering in the use of electronic-information technologies to extend their collections and services. Through its members, the DLF provides leadership for libraries broadly by -

  • identifying standards and "best practices" for digital collections and network access
  • coordinating leading-edge research-and-development in libraries' use of electronic-information technology
  • helping start projects and services that libraries need but cannot develop individually.

The DLF operates under the administration umbrella of the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Tenets of Actor Network Theory

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From FNFACTOR NETWORK THEORY  2001-05-07:

"For what it's worth, here is my own brief outline summary of some of the main ideas of ANT:

1. There is an emphasis on networks and links, as opposed to heroic individual "genuises"

2. The nodes in these networks, called actants, include not just humans, but also non-humans, such as physical objects; they all do some kind of work to maintain the integrity of the network.

3. Individual actants, and groups of actants, in general have different value systems, so that translation among these systems is necessary for a network to succeed; this work is done along the links in the network. Socio-technical compromise is the work done to bring the various technical and social nodes into alignment.

4. The structure of a project can only be seen clearly when these translations (and hence the project) have been successful; hence the values, and even the parts and structure, of a failed project are not in general well defined.

5. The human actors in a project are in a sense sociologists, because they must do acts of interpretation, which in effect are theories of the project; this work should be taken very seriously by sociologists, who should not assume that their own views are necessarily superior to those of the actual participants."

Yet... more things to learn in the new semester

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The new semester (Spring 2004) has already started and seems exciting. I'm again a TA (Teaching Assistant), and would be assisting Prof. Wacholder in her two classes similarly to last semester.

As far as my classes are concerned, this semester I'll be taking three classes:
1) Qualitative Research Methods [16:194:603],
2) Current Research Issues [16:194:605], and
3) Experiment and Evaluation in Information Systems [16:194:619].

I also have to complete an independent study which I have already started. This would mean I'll be done with my Ph.D. class work by the end of this semester; than planning for the qualifying exam during the Fall of 2004. :) In the meantime, I’m also working on the dissertation proposal.

A lots of new 'knowledge' (or is it 'information' :)) to learn in this semester.

By Mentor Cana, PhD
more info at LinkedIn
email: mcana {[at]} kmentor {[dot]} com

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