OII - SDP - 2004 - Blog

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Virtual Society [Woolgar]

Steve Woolgar, Director of the Virtual Society? Programme, spoke to us today about his programme in Virtual Society? Theoretical Perspectives on the Internet.

Steve mentioned that there is a lot of literature about web theory though there is currently very little about non-constructionist views i.e. what actually happens on/with technology.  I find this especially encouraging, given that this is what I'm trying to do with my PhD (show how a group of users actually use the Internet).

I did not note alot of the content of this session, though one aspect that I found especially useful was Woolgar's Five Rules of Virtuality (details to come when slides available.)  Moreover, the following notes were also of interest: 

  • Technology itself does not determine how its used – it's all determined by the local circumstances of its 'put to use'.
  • Surveillance technologies do not cause particular fears
  • The paperless office never happened – new technology sits beside the old! e.g. people use email though still use paper-based memos, etc.
  • New technology seems to generate more of the activity they were supposed to replace
    e.g. teleworkers end up traveling more as a result of teleworking becuase systems allow them to work more effectively and travel to meet more clients
  • A 'global presence' still means you need to appeal to the local
    e.g. Virtual Manchester website
    e.g. Saying “I'm on the train” when talking on a mobile phone


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