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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > Social Aspects

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Autoaffection Cover

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Autoaffection

Unconscious Thought in the Age of Technology

Patricia Ticineto Clough

In this book, Patricia Ticineto Clough reenergizes critical theory by viewing poststructuralist thought through the lens of "teletechnology," using television as a recurring case study to illuminate the changing relationships between subjectivity, technology, and mass media. 

Autoaffection links diverse forms of cultural criticism-feminist theory, queer theory, film theory, postcolonial theory, Marxist cultural studies and literary criticism, the cultural studies of science and the criticism of ethnographic writing—to the transformation and expansion of teletechnology in the late twentieth century. These theoretical approaches, Clough suggests, have become the vehicles of unconscious thought in our time.

In individual chapters, Clough juxtaposes the likes of Derridean deconstruction, Deleuzian philosophy, and Lacanian psychoanalysis. She works through the writings of Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, Judith Butler, Bruno Latour, Nancy Fraser, Elizabeth Grosz—to name only a few—placing all in dialogue with a teletechnological framework. Clough shows how these cultural criticisms have raised questions about the foundation of thought, allowing us to reenvision the relationship of nature and technology, the human and the machine, the virtual and the real, the living and the inert.



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Beyond Broadband Access

Developing Data-Based Information Policy Strategies

After broadband access, what next? What role do metrics play in understanding “information societies”? And, more importantly, in shaping their policies? Beyond counting people with broadband access, how can economic and social metrics inform broadband policies, help evaluate their outcomes, and create useful models for achieving national goals? Broadly described, this book addresses those questions. Information metrics are important, and often political. For example, what does it mean that one economy is ranked higher than another on a list of some e-measure? Any deeper understanding of a complex, multi-dimensional set of variables based on extensive data is lost in an international game of “we’re better than you are” or asking “how can we catch up?” While there is broad international consensus that policy decisions are improved if they are informed by empirical data, there is no accepted standard as to which data matters. Many possible information indicators have been measured. But standing alone, what do they tell us? Which ones are important? Does their selection predetermine certain outcomes? Can they be transformed into truly useful policy tools? How do we know which data to collect, unless there are identified goals? This book is divided into two parts – the first deals with theoretical aspects of measuring information and the issues that should be taken into consideration when designing broadband-focused information policy; while the second demonstrates how data has been both used and abused for argumentation purposes with regards to choices among different policy paths.

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Coding Places

Software Practice in a South American City

Yuri Takhteyev

An examination of software practice in Brazil that reveals both the globalization and the localization of software development.

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Connected

Or What It Means To Live In The Network Society

Steven Shaviro

In the twenty-first century, a network society is emerging. Fragmented, visually saturated, characterized by rapid technological change and constant social upheavals, it is dizzying, excessive, and sometimes surreal. In this breathtaking work, Steven Shaviro investigates popular culture, new technologies, political change, and community disruption and concludes that science fiction and social reality have become virtually indistinguishable. 
Connected is made up of a series of mini-essays-on cyberpunk, hip-hop, film noir, Web surfing, greed, electronic surveillance, pervasive multimedia, psychedelic drugs, artificial intelligence, evolutionary psychology, and the architecture of Frank Gehry, among other topics. Shaviro argues that our strange new world is increasingly being transformed in ways, and by devices, that seem to come out of the pages of science fiction, even while the world itself is becoming a futuristic landscape. The result is that science fiction provides the most useful social theory, the only form that manages to be as radical as reality itself. 
Connected looks at how our networked environment has manifested itself in the work of J. G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, and others. Shaviro focuses on science fiction not only as a form of cultural commentary but also as a prescient forum in which to explore the forces that are morphing our world into a sort of virtual reality game. Original and compelling, Connected shows how the continual experimentation of science fiction, like science and technology themselves, conjures the invisible social and economic forces that surround us.  

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Cool

How Air Conditioning Changed Everything

Salvatore Basile

It’s a contraption that makes the lists of “Greatest Inventions Ever”; at the same time it's accused of causing global disaster. It has changed everything from architecture to people’s food habits to their voting patterns, even the way big business washes its windows. It has saved countless lives . . . while causing countless deaths. Most of us are glad it's there. But we don't know how, or when, it got there._x000B__x000B_It's air conditioning._x000B__x000B_For thousands of years, humankind attempted to do something about the slow torture of hot weather. Everything was tried: water power, slave power, electric power, ice made from steam engines and cold air made from deadly chemicals, “zephyrifers,” refrigerated beds, ventilation amateurs and professional air-sniffers. It wasn't until 1902 when an engineer barely out of college developed the “Apparatus for Treating Air”—a machine that could actually cool the indoors—and everyone assumed it would instantly change the world. _x000B__x000B_That wasn't the case. There was a time when people “ignored” hot weather while reading each day's list of heat-related deaths, women wore furs in the summertime, heatstroke victims were treated with bloodletting . . . and the notion of a machine to cool the air was considered preposterous, even sinful. _x000B__x000B_The story of air conditioning is actually two stories: the struggle to perfect a cooling device, and the effort to convince people that they actually needed such a thing. With a cast of characters ranging from Leonardo da Vinci and Richard Nixon to Felix the Cat, Cool showcases the myriad reactions to air conditioning—some of them dramatic, many others comical and wonderfully inconsistent—as it was developed and presented to the world. Here is a unique perspective on air conditioning's fascinating history: how we rely so completely on it today, and how it might change radically tomorrow._x000B_

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Copying Machines

Taking Notes for the Automaton

Catherine Liu

Anxieties about fixing the absolute difference between the human being and the mechanical replica, the automaton, are as old as the first appearance of the machine itself. Exploring these anxieties and the efforts they prompted, this book opens a window on one of the most significant, if subtle, ideological battles waged on behalf of the human against the machine since the Enlightenment—one that continues in the wake of technological and conceptual progress today.

A sustained examination of the automaton as early modern machine and as a curious ancestor of the twentieth-century robot, Copying Machines offers extended readings of mechanistic images in the eighteenth century through the prism of twentieth-century commentary. In readings of texts by Lafayette, Molière, Laclos, and La Bruyère—and in a chapter on the eighteenth-century inventor of automatons, Jacques Vaucanson—Catherine Liu provides a fascinating account of ways in which the automaton and the preindustrial machine haunt the imagination of ancien régime France and structure key moments of the canonical literature and criticism of the period.

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Democratizing Technology

Andrew Feenberg's Critical Theory of Technology

Largely because of the Internet and the new economy, technology has become the buzzword of our culture. But what is it, and how does it affect our lives? More importantly, can we control and shape it, or does it control us? In short, can we make technology more democratic? Using the work of Andrew Feenberg, one of the most important and original figures in the field of philosophy of technology, as a foundation, the contributors to this volume explore these important questions and Feenberg responds. In the 1990s, Feenberg authored three books that established him as one of the leading scholars in a rapidly developing field, and he is one of the few to delineate a theory for democratizing technological design. He has demonstrated the shortcomings of traditional theories of technology and argued for what he calls “democratic rationalization” where actors intervene in the technological design process to shape it toward their own ends. In this book, the contributors analyze foundational issues in Feenberg’s work, including questions of human nature, biotechnology, gender, and his readings of Heidegger, and they also examine practical issues, including democratizing technology, moral evaluation, and environmentalism.

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Digital Formations

IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm

Robert Latham

Computer-centered networks and technologies are reshaping social relations and constituting new social domains on a global scale, from virtually borderless electronic markets and Internet-based large-scale conversations to worldwide open source software development communities, transnational corporate production systems, and the global knowledge-arenas associated with NGO networks. This book explores how such "digital formations" emerge from the ever-changing intersection of computer-centered technologies and the broad range of social contexts that underlie much of what happens in cyberspace.

While viewing technologies fundamentally in social rather than technical terms, Digital Formations nonetheless emphasizes the importance of recognizing the specific technical capacities of digital technologies. Importantly, it identifies digital formations as a new area of study in the social sciences and in thinking about globalization. The ten chapters, by leading scholars, examine key social, political, and economic developments associated with these new configurations of organization, space, and interaction. They address the operation of digital formations and their implications for the development of longstanding institutions and for their wider contexts and fields, and they consider the political, economic, and other forces shaping those formations and how the formations, in turn, are shaping such forces.

Following a conceptual introduction by the editors are chapters by Hayward Alker, Jonathan Bach and David Stark, Lars-Erik Cederman and Peter A. Kraus, Dieter Ernst, D. Linda Garcia, Doug Guthrie, Robert Latham, Warren Sack, Saskia Sassen, and Steven Weber.

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Digital Government

Technology and Public Sector Performance

Darrell M. West

Few developments have had broader consequences for the public sector than the introduction of the Internet and digital technology. In this book, Darrell West discusses how new technology is altering governmental performance, the political process, and democracy itself by improving government responsiveness and increasing information available to citizens.

Using multiple methods--case studies, content analysis of over 17,000 government Web sites, public and bureaucrat opinion survey data, an e-mail responsiveness test, budget data, and aggregate analysis--the author presents the most comprehensive study of electronic government ever undertaken. Among other topics, he looks at how much change has taken place in the public sector, what determines the speed and breadth of e-government adoption, and what the consequences of digital technology are for the public sector.

Written in a clear and analytical manner, this book outlines the variety of factors that have restricted the ability of policy makers to make effective use of new technology. Although digital government offers the potential for revolutionary change, social, political, and economic forces constrain the scope of transformation and prevent government officials from realizing the full benefits of interactive technology.

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Disrupting Science

Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945-1975

Kelly Moore

In the decades following World War II, American scientists were celebrated for their contributions to social and technological progress. They were also widely criticized for their increasingly close ties to military and governmental power--not only by outside activists but from among the ranks of scientists themselves. Disrupting Science tells the story of how scientists formed new protest organizations that democratized science and made its pursuit more transparent. The book explores how scientists weakened their own authority even as they invented new forms of political action.

Drawing extensively from archival sources and in-depth interviews, Kelly Moore examines the features of American science that made it an attractive target for protesters in the early cold war and Vietnam eras, including scientists' work in military research and activities perceived as environmentally harmful. She describes the intellectual traditions that protesters drew from--liberalism, moral individualism, and the New Left--and traces the rise and influence of scientist-led protest organizations such as Science for the People and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Moore shows how scientist protest activities disrupted basic assumptions about science and the ways scientific knowledge should be produced, and recast scientists' relationships to political and military institutions.

Disrupting Science reveals how the scientific community cumulatively worked to unbind its own scientific authority and change how science and scientists are perceived. In doing so, the book redefines our understanding of social movements and the power of insider-led protest.

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