Thursday, March 17, 2005

Cell phones in the news

Cell phone survey shows love-hate relationship

More than 80 percent of cell phone users say the device has made their lives easier, a new University of Michigan survey shows. But 60 percent say that public use of cell phones has disturbed or irritated them...

Technology and development : The real digital divide

Encouraging the spread of mobile phones is the most sensible and effective response to the digital divide...

Driving 'n' dialing

Impairments of judgment, perception and reaction time caused by driving and dialing are approximately equal to the impairments caused by drinking the legal limit of alcohol, researchers say...

Monday, March 14, 2005


I've created presentation schedules for our final two classes on MAR 23 & MAR 30. Please check to see which day you will be presenting.

A few notes:

1) There are still people who have not signed up for their presentation. IF YOU DO NOT SEE YOUR NAME on these lists, please contact me immediately.

2) Each day there will be a TV/DVD/VCR, a computer and a data projector available to use. For multimedia presentations please come with files on CD, and COPIES SENT to me by email.

3) Each person has a MAXIMUM OF 5 MINUTES for their presentation. (You will be gently but unmistakably cut off!) In order to have time for all the presentations, it is important that you come prepared and keep within the time limits please.

4) Even if you are not presenting, it is your responsibility to ATTEND all the presentations and to COMPLETE A HANDOUT each week. Your attendance and the handout count towards your participation mark.

5) To make time for these presentations & discussion, please be prepared for class to RUN UNTIL 5:45 - 6:00 each week. I know it'll make for long classes, but I know you won't mind since you have no class during review week AND no exam ... Plus, I'm bringing hot drinks and snacks to keep us going ;)

I'm really looking forward to these couple of days and if you have any questions, just ask.

In the news

BBC News: science risks being tainted by the excessive intrusion of commercialism and there is a need for greater public engagement with science.

What risks - if any - do you see associated with commercial interests supporting scientific research?

Do you "trust scientists to tell the truth"? Do you think "science makes a good contribution to society"?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Presentation schedule for Wed Mar 23

Sarah Larmour, Julie Brown, Adrian Chong & Pam Palma - Technology and piracy

Marc Waters & Albert Stoffers - Sports broadcasting and television consumption

Brad Morrison, Jennifer Leng, Mike Pietowski + one - GM foods

Giulio Wan - Science, technology and anime

Kelly Aulenback & Ryan Siwy - Video games and socialisation

Jamie Walts, Meg Hierlihy & Christine Hogan - Educational technology and socialisation

Melissa Clow - C.S.I. and public perceptions of science

Kevin Conway & Alex Korovessis - Artificial intelligence

Brian Danaher - Automobiles and society

Michael Handelman & Marisa Vicckies - Sex & sexuality

Presentation schedule for Wed Mar 30

Ken Doyle, Scott Willis & Rob Khan - Human cloning

Mitchell Blimkie - Technology and health care

Jeff Kelemen, Luc Biggs & Ben Postin - Material culture of sport

Jen Eysaman, Justin Davis & Christina Shurson - Technology and crime

Mike Cullen - Science and superheroes

Jeremy Citron, Joseph Witts, Crystal Lloyd & Daniel Wallerstein - Surveillance technologies

James Dockrill & Elizabeth Caracristi - Entertainment technology and socialisation

Nikolaus Sands & John Britton - Science, technology and sports supplements

Shawn McCallum, Pratik Lodha, Janice Laflair & Richard Harris - Ethics of human genetic manipulation

Friday, March 11, 2005

Some thoughts on sociology, science and technology

If we look at the course syllabus it states:

"Although often assumed to be separate from the rest of society, scientific knowledge and practice share much in common with other forms of culture, and can profitably be studied as a sociological enterprise. A critical and nuanced understanding of the ways scientists work and of how technologies are developed and used allows us to make informed decisions and take responsible actions on the social, political and ethical aspects of scientific and technological progress."

If we look at the course web site, the class themes address:

"Science and technology as culture and practice - from the laboratories of high energy physicists to street uses of mobile technologies."

And if we review what we read and discussed about science as culture and practice we can see that our goal has been to understand how social interactions and cultural values influence how scientists work, how scientific knowledge is produced, how technologies are developed and how technologies are used.

So rather than looking for the effects of science and technology on society - which implies that they are somehow separate from society - our objective has been to see how our social and cultural lives simultaneously shape, and are shaped by, science and technology.

This involves questioning some of the traditional barriers between science, philosophy, politics, economics, ethics, sociology and anthropology. Rather than accepting these boundaries as 'normal' or 'natural' we have focussed on how the boundaries are made - and changed - in our daily lives. In this way science and technology can be understood in terms of processes with particular interests and values, instead of as neutral or objective products.

Not only does this impact our understanding of science and technology, but it asks us to critically evaluate our knowledge of sociology and anthropology as well.

Question for reflection & discussion

In what ways does this challenge the understandings and assumptions you bring to class?

Critical thinking skills

10 practices to help us think critically while we read assigned articles, engage in class discussion and work on our research projects

1) Develop criteria for evaluation by clarifying issues, values and standards

2) Refine generalisations and avoid oversimplifications

3) Take into account relevant contexts and distinguish relevant from irrelevant facts

4) Recognise contradictions, discover the weaknesses in our positions and correct what is at fault in our procedures

5) Explore implications and consequences for ourselves and others

6) Develop insight into personal, social and cultural biases

7) Develop intellectual courage by allowing our minds to be changed

8) Develop intellectual humility by suspending judgment and being fair

9) Develop intellectual perseverance by not giving up when at first we do not understand

10) Develop our own perspectives by creating and exploring other ways of thinking

[See also:, Critical Thinking on the Web and Guide to Critical Thinking]

Thursday, March 10, 2005

LECTURE - Cyberculture & identity

Lisa Nakamura - "Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet" in The Cybercultures Reader

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LECTURE - Haraway's Cyborg

Donna Haraway - A Cyborg Manifesto

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

LECTURE - The Internet and WWW

Janet Abbate - "The Most Neglected Element: Users Transform the ARPANET" from Inventing the Internet

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The Difference Between the Internet and the World Wide Web

IEEE Timeline of Computing History

Computer History Museum

A Brief History of the Internet

A Brief History of the Internet and Related Networks

Hobbes' Internet Timeline

Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet

The World Wide Web: the beginning and now

The World Wide Web: A very short personal history

LECTURE - Computing

Sherry Turkle - What Are We Thinking About When We Think About Computers?

Knowing | Identity | Aliveness

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As We May Think by Vannevar Bush

The Gadget-Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis by Marshall McLuhan

The Machine Stops by EM Forster