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Moralizing Mobility?

Persuasive Technologies and the Ethics of Mobility

Andreas Spahn

There is a tension in any ethical evaluation of mobility. On the one side mobility is linked to elements of progress, cosmopolitism, autonomy, and freedom. On the other side increasing mobility causes worries with regard to safety and sustainability. This essay analyzes a suggested technical solution to the worries about safety and sustainability: the increasing usage of persuasive technologies to change individual behavior. Can and should we moralize mobility technologies by way of persuasion?

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Enrolling genetic technology in regulation

Struggles for recognition by biotechnologists in Norway

Sara Skodbo

This article addresses the need to overcome theoretical weaknesses of both technologically and socially deterministic accounts of technological development. Technology does not simply 'impact' on local contexts, but nor does it act as a tabula rasa, subject to the free attribution of meaning by local social actors. Expanding on theoretical developments in the anthropology of art (Gell 1998) and gender and technology (Strathern 1988, 1999, 2001), the essay seeks to explore genetic technology as a social agent and as a technological 'index'. Examining a case of genetic technology regulation and innovation in Norway, the article argues that technology is best understood as an agent that is engaged with on an affective basis by those who interact with it.

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Brian Wemp

The Grands Magasins Dufayel, a huge department store built on the northern fringe of late nineteenth-century Paris, had an important cultural influence on the city's working class. In a neighborhood with few public spaces, it provided a consumer version of the public square. It encouraged workers to approach shopping as a social activity, just as the bourgeoisie did at the famous department stores in central Paris. Like the bourgeois stores, it helped transform consumption from a personal transaction between customer and merchant into an unmediated relationship between consumer and goods. Through advertising the store portrayed itself as a space where the working-class visitor could participate in new and exciting forms of entertainment and technology. Its unique instore cinema and exhibits of inventions like X-ray machines and the gramophone created a new kind of urban space that celebrated the close relationship between technology and consumer culture.

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Giovanni Navarria

The technological revolution that began with the Arpanet in the late Sixties has changed the world we live in. The Internet and social media have improved our lives considerably, but the changes came in with a high-price tag attached: our freedom. We now live in a world in which technology has exponentially expanded the power of the State to keep tabs on its citizens (within and across borders). If we continue on this path, democracy as we know it is doomed. Yet the future is not as grey as it might look at first sight. The ubiquity of social media and smartphones and the increasing relevance of the Internet in everyday life have also drastically changed the impact-power of citizens in technologically advanced societies. Understanding these changes is to understand which shape democracy will take in the future.

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Seeing Green

Visual Technology, Virtual Reality, and the Experience of War

Jose N. Vasquez

This article addresses the question of how visual technology—night vision, thermal imaging, and virtual reality—has changed the experience of war for both combatants and non-combatants. Video and still images are analyzed to draw out some of the phenomenological aspects of how technology mitigates the perception of combat and its resultant casualties. I argue that while visual technology makes the experience of war more intimate, it also generates psychological distance between the viewer and the viewed. Weapons equipped with visual technology facilitate war crimes by dehumanizing the individuals being targeted and filtering the carnage these weapons produce.

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Alessandro Jedlowski

This article analyzes the articulation between mobility and technology within life trajectories marked by migration, exile, and the search for economic achievement. It does so by focusing on a Nigerian couple’s (attempted) itinerary of return migration from Italy to Nigeria, and on the tensions that surround the role played by a specific transport technology, the shipping container, within this process. It highlights how, throughout the itinerary that brings the container from Italy to Nigeria, its social meaning and that of the cargo stored in it become the center of a series of tense interactions, in which diverging imaginaries about transnational mobility, migration, and life abroad come to the fore, and provoke radical transformations in the life of the people involved in the itinerary of the container itself.

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Disruptive Technology

Social Media from Modiano to Zola and Proust

Elizabeth Emery

In this article, Patrick Modiano’s 2014 Nobel Prize acceptance speech serves as a springboard to consider the lieu commun that “disruptive technology” is killing both literature and the contemporary press. Modiano’s depiction of himself as part of an “intermediate generation,” trapped between the intense focus of great nineteenth-century novelists and the many distractions of contemporary writers, cleverly invoked millennial anxieties related to new technology in order to establish his own place within literary history.

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"All Transportation Is Local"

Mobile-Digital-Networked-Technologies and Networked Orientations

Joseph F. Turcotte and M. Len Ball

In an increasingly mediated situation, mobile, digital, and networked technologies (MDNTs) prompt individuals to orient themselves in new ways to the spaces they traverse. How users and communities experience these technologies in relation to the environments around them subsequently affects mentalities, including perceptions of space and mobility. The mediating presence of digital technology interconnects internal and external factors through diverse social and technological networks. This paper uses interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives to argue that ubiquitous MDNTs alter the ways that individuals orient themselves in relation to the spaces, both on- and offline, that they traverse. By mediating various visual, audible, and informational aspects of daily life while remaining implicated within external networks of related experiences, individuals move through on- and offline spaces in ways that allow the subject to negotiate her local environment(s). Experiences of mobility and space become more fluid as spatial subjectivities and mobility become integrated.

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Target Practice

The Algorithmics and Biopolitics of Race in Emerging Smart Border Practices and Technologies

Tamara Vukov

Taking the Canada–U.S. border as a starting point to refl ect on emergent smart border practices, this essay analyzes the diff erential yet central place that race continues to hold in the regulation of mobilities through the technopolitical mechanism of the border. Against claims that smart borders off er a more scientifi c and “postracial” mode of border control, the essay off ers a situated conceptual refl ection on how race is currently being (re)shaped by the complex intersection of biopolitical and algorithmic forms of governmentality as they converge in border technologies. Th e essay proposes to think through four diff erent sets of smart border technologies that enact and track race as a biopolitical assemblage in particular ways, analyzing the associated perceptual codes each puts into play (biometric, movement sensing, drone, and databased). It closes by refl ecting on how these algorithmic technologies infl ect the biopolitical targeting of race and mobility in ways that serve to insulate smart border practices from democratic accoun tability.

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Education and Godly Technology

Gender, Culture, and the Work of Home Schooling

Michael W. Apple

The secularity of the state is seen by 'authoritarian populist' religious conservatives as imposing a world-view that is out of touch with the deep religious commitments that guide their lives. In the process, authoritarian populists have taken on subaltern identities and claimed that they are the last truly dispossessed groups. To demonstrate their increasing power in educational and social policy, I situate a specific set of technologies—the Internet—within the social context of its use in this community. I focus on the growing home-schooling movement and suggest that to understand the societal meaning and uses of these technologies, we need to examine the social movement that provides the context for their use. I also argue that we need to analyze critically the kind of labor that is required in home schooling, who is engaged in such labor, and how such labor is interpreted by the actors who perform it.