Communication and Technology

“Technology is a vitally important aspect of the human condition. Technologies feed, clothe, and provide basic shelter for us, they transport , entertain, and heal us, they provide the bases of wealth and of leisure; they also pollute and kill. For good or ill, they are woven inextricably into the fabric of our lives, from birth to death, at home, in school, or in paid work. Rich or poor, employed or unemployed, woman or man, ‘black,’ or ‘white,’ north or south–all of our lives are intertwined with technologies, from simple tools to large technical systems” (MacKenzie & Wajcman, 1999, p. 3).

Even as the authors provide the bases for a social shaping of technology, our goal is to go beyond a simplistic, technologistically deterministic view to understand how technologies are interwoven in our lives, their historical and developmental trajectory, and in what manner they shape and are shaped by the communication processes constituting the human condition.  We examine technological developments in emerging satellite and terrestrial technologies, digital radio, IPTV, and augmented reality among others, with a particular focus on web and internet-based information and communication technologies (ICTs). We consider how the specifications and standards of different technologies have developed and operate in our lives through an inquiry into the socially constructed, constantly evolving, even political relationship between technologies, social and organizational practices, and identities. In doing so, we learn how to be critical consumers of technology and employ these successfully to achieve strategic communication goals in organizational, professional, and individual contexts.

MacKenzie, D., & Wajcman, J., Eds. (1999). Introductory essay: The social shaping of technology. In The social shaping of technology, 2nd ed. (pp. 3-27). Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press.

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