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High Techne

Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman

R.L. Rutsky

In an age of high tech, our experience of technology has changed tremendously, yet the definition of technology has remained largely unquestioned. High Techne redresses this gap in thinking about technology, examining the shifting relations of technology, art, and culture from the beginnings of modernity to contemporary technocultures. Drawing on the Greek root of technology, (techne, generally translated as “art, skill, or craft”), R. L. Rutsky challenges both the modernist notion of technology as an instrument or tool and the conventional idea of a noninstrumental aesthetics. Today, technology and aesthetics have again begun to come together: even basketball shoes are said to exhibit a “high-tech style” and the most advanced technology is called “state of the art.” Rutsky charts the history and vicissitudes of this new high-tech techne up to our day—from Fritz Lang to Octavia Butler, Thomas Edison to Japanese Anime, constructivism to cyberspace. Progressing from the major art movements of modernism to contemporary science fiction and cultural theory, Rutsky provides clear and compelling evidence of a shift in the cultural conceptions of technology and art and demonstrates the centrality of technology to modernism and postmodernism.

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Husserl's Missing Technologies

Don Ihde

Husserl's Missing Technologies looks at the early-twentieth-century "classical" phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, both in the light of the philosophy of science of his time, and retrospectively at his philosophy from a contemporary "postphenomenology." Of central interest are his infrequent comments upon technologies and especially scientific instruments such as the telescope and microscope. Together with his analysis of Husserl, Don Ihde ventures through the recent history of technologies of science, reading and writing, and science praxis, calling for modifications to phenomenology by converging it with pragmatism. This fruitful hybridization emphasizes human-technology interrelationships, the role of embodiment and bodily skills, and the inherent multistability of technologies. In a radical argument, Ihde contends that philosophies, in the same way that various technologies contain an ever-shortening obsolescence, ought to have contingent use-lives.

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Imperial Technoscience

Transnational Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India

Amit Prasad

The origin of modern science is often located in Europe and the West. This Euro/West-centrism relegates emergent practices elsewhere to the periphery, undergirding analyses of contemporary transnational science and technology with traditional but now untenable hierarchical categories. In this book, Amit Prasad examines features of transnationality in science and technology through a study of MRI research and development in the United States, Britain, and India. In an analysis that is both theoretically nuanced and empirically robust, Prasad unravels the entangled genealogies of MRI research, practice, and culture in these three countries. Prasad follows sociotechnical trails in relation to five aspects of MRI research: invention, industrial development, market, history, and culture. He first examines the well-known dispute between American scientists Paul Lauterbur and Raymond Damadian over the invention of MRI, then describes the post-invention emergence of the technology, as the center of MRI research shifted from Britain to the U.S; the marketing of the MRI and the transformation of MRI research into a corporate-powered "Big Science"; and MRI research in India, beginning with work in India's nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) laboratories in the 1940s. Finally, he explores the different dominant technocultures in each of the three countries, analyzing scientific cultures as shifting products of transnational histories rather than static products of national scientific identities and cultures. Prasad's analysis offers not only an innovative contribution to current debates within science and technology studies but also an original postcolonial perspective on the history of cutting-edge medical technology.

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Invisible Users

Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana

Jenna Burrell

An account of how young people in Ghana’s capital city adopt and adapt digital technology in the margins of the global economy.

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Machine Art in the Twentieth Century

Andreas Broeckmann

"Machine art" is neither a movement nor a genre, but encompasses diverse ways in which artists engage with technical systems. In this book, Andreas Broeckmann examines a variety of twentieth- and early twenty-first-century artworks that articulate people's relationships with machines. In the course of his investigation, Broeckmann traces historical lineages that connect art of different periods, looking for continuities that link works from the end of the century to developments in the 1950s and 1960s and to works by avant-garde artists in the 1910s and 1920s. An art historical perspective, he argues, might change our views of recent works that seem to be driven by new media technologies but that in fact continue a century-old artistic exploration.Broeckmann investigates critical aspects of machine aesthetics that characterized machine art until the 1960s and then turns to specific domains of artistic engagement with technology: algorithms and machine autonomy, looking in particular at the work of the Canadian artist David Rokeby; vision and image, and the advent of technical imaging; and the human body, using the work of the Australian artist Stelarc as an entry point to art that couples the machine to the body, mechanically or cybernetically. Finally, Broeckmann argues that systems thinking and ecology have brought about a fundamental shift in the meaning of technology, which has brought with it a rethinking of human subjectivity. He examines a range of artworks, including those by the Japanese artist Seiko Mikami, whose work exemplifies the shift.

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Monitoring Movements in Development Aid

Recursive Partnerships and Infrastructures

Casper Bruun Jensen

In <I>Monitoring Movements in Development Aid</I>, Casper Jensen and Brit Winthereik consider the processes, social practices, and infrastructures that are emerging to monitor development aid, discussing both empirical phenomena and their methodological and analytical challenges. Jensen and Winthereik focus on efforts by aid organizations to make better use of information technology; they analyze a range of <I>development aid information infrastructures</I> created to increase accountability and effectiveness. They find that constructing these infrastructures is not simply a matter of designing and implementing technology but entails forging new platforms for action that are simultaneously imaginative and practical, conceptual and technical. After presenting an analytical platform that draws on science and technology studies and the anthropology of development, Jensen and Winthereik present an ethnography- based analysis of the mutually defining relationship between aid partnerships and infrastructures; the crucial role of users (both actual and envisioned) in aid information infrastructures; efforts to make aid information dynamic and accessible; existing monitoring activities of an environmental NGO; and national-level performance audits, which encompass concerns of both external control and organizational learning.Jensen and Winthereik argue that central to the emerging movement to monitor development aid is the blurring of means and ends: aid information infrastructures are both technological platforms for knowledge about aid and forms of aid and empowerment in their own right.

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Moving Money

The Future of Consumer Payments

edited by Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily

Once we paid for things with bills, coins, or checks. Today we pay with zeroes and ones —digital entries on credit and debit cards, or electronic messages sent over the Internet. In Moving Money, distinguished analysts explore this trend, its development and likely future, and the ramifications of this transformation.

This is a book about money as a medium of exchange —in the past, in the present, but particularly in the future. What forms has money taken over the years? Moreover, how have those means of payment changed in recent years, and how will they develop in the future? And what (if anything) should policymakers do to facilitate those changes, or at least allow them to develop and mature? Brookings economists Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily and a distinguished group of experts dissect these issues and peer into the future of consumer payments.

The landscape of the consumer payments industry will be shaped at least in part by public policies. Historically, governments have had monopolies on the manufacture of money. Any form of payment clearly requires trust on the part of both the seller and the buyer, and the government must establish and enforce laws to secure this relationship. More controversial is the issue of whether, and to what extent, government is also needed to protect the market in private sector payments systems.

Why do these issues matter? The payments industry is a large and important sector of developed economies. In the United States, private-sector payments providers generate approximately $280 billion a year in revenue, while the government invests substantial resources into making money (minting coins and printing bills) or moving it (via checks and various electronic transfers). And the way we pay for things influences our purchases —what we spend money on, how much we spend, and where we spend it. Thus the future of consumer payments is intertwined with the health of national economies.

Contributors: Martin Neil Baily (Brookings), Thomas P. Brown (O'Melveny & Myers), Kenneth Chenault (American Express Company), Vijay D'Silva (McKinsey and Company), Nicholas Economides (New York University), David S. Evans (Market Platform Dynamics), Robert E. Litan (Brookings and Kaufmann Foundation), Drazen Prelec (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Richard Schmalensee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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Net Loss

Internet Prophets, Private Profits, and the Costs to Community

Nathan Newman

How has the Internet been changing our lives, and how did these changes come about? Nathan Newman seeks the answers to these questions by studying the emergence of the Internet economy in Silicon Valley and the transformation of power relations it has brought about in our new information age. Net Loss is his effort to understand why technological innovation and growth have been accompanied by increasing economic inequality and a sense of political powerlessness among large sectors of the population. Newman first tells the story of the federal government’s crucial role in the early development of the Internet, with the promotion of open computer standards and collaborative business practices that became the driving force of the Silicon Valley model. He then examines the complex dynamic of the process whereby regional economies have been changing as business alliances built around industries like the Internet replace the broader public investments that fueled regional growth in the past. A radical restructuring of once regionally focused industries like banking, electric utilities, and telephone companies is under way, with changes in federal regulation helping to undermine regional planning and the power of local community actors. The rise of global Internet commerce itself contributes to weakening the tax base of local governments, even as these governments increasingly use networked technology to market themselves and their citizens to global business, usually at the expense of all but their most elite residents. More optimistically, Newman sees an emerging countertrend of global use of the Internet by grassroots organizations, such as those in the antiglobalization movements, that may help to transcend this local powerlessness.

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The New Political Sociology of Science

Institutions, Networks, and Power

Edited by Scott Frickel and Kelly Moore

In the twenty-first century, the production and use of scientific knowledge is more regulated, commercialized, and participatory than at any other time in history. The stakes in understanding these changes are high for scientist and nonscientist alike: they challenge traditional ideas of intellectual work and property and have the potential to remake legal and professional boundaries and transform the practice of research. A critical examination of the structures of power and inequality these changes hinge upon, this book explores the implications for human health, democratic society, and the environment.

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Off the Network

Disrupting the Digital World

Ulises Ali Mejias


The digital world profoundly shapes how we work and consume and also how we play, socialize, create identities, and engage in politics and civic life. Indeed, we are so enmeshed in digital networks—from social media to cell phones—that it is hard to conceive of them from the outside or to imagine an alternative, let alone defy their seemingly inescapable power and logic. Yes, it is (sort of) possible to quit Facebook. But is it possible to disconnect from the digital network—and why might we want to?


Off the Network is a fresh and authoritative examination of how the hidden logic of the Internet, social media, and the digital network is changing users’ understanding of the world—and why that should worry us. Ulises Ali Mejias also suggests how we might begin to rethink the logic of the network and question its ascendancy. Touted as consensual, inclusive, and pleasurable, the digital network is also, Mejias says, monopolizing and threatening in its capacity to determine, commodify, and commercialize so many aspects of our lives. He shows how the network broadens participation yet also exacerbates disparity—and how it excludes more of society than it includes.


Uniquely, Mejias makes the case that it is not only necessary to challenge the privatized and commercialized modes of social and civic life offered by corporate-controlled spaces such as Facebook and Twitter, but that such confrontations can be mounted from both within and outside the network. The result is an uncompromising, sophisticated, and accessible critique of the digital world that increasingly dominates our lives.


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