the construction of social computing

Just yesterday I received an e-mail from Maurizio Teli [whom I know from back in 2005, when we met at the Cyberspace conference in Brno, Czech Republic] containing a call for papers for a workshop he is organizing together with Vincenzo D’Andrea and David Hakken. The workshop will take place at this year’s annual meeting, called Design and displacement—social studies of science and technology, of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), taking place 17 through 20 October 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here is the workshop’s full abstract:

In the last few years, the label “Social Computing” (SC) has been increasingly used to identify the ensemble of computing applications developed in order to foster and sustain social relationships. The use of the label seems to imply that SC is engaging with hybrid sociotechnical relationships, underlining a change in computer science. Nevertheless, SC is in line with the origin of computer science, in particular with the computing development program promoted in the ’50s by Norbert Wiener, aiming at promoting a society that increases the “human use of human beings”. However, although many applications are labeled “social computing,” they are mainly commoditized, to generate profit for corporations, and they focus on a restricted set of application domains. Such practical displacement of the societal view of Wiener calls for a deep reflection based on an empirical perspective able to frame SC through an STS lens, for two main reasons. Firstly, SC is an academic and social construction, and its design and foundational discourses can be understood and questioned through an STS lens. Secondly, the use of the term SC builds constraints on how innovation can take place in the social arena of SC. Along with these premises, an STS lens can increase the understanding of the hybrid relationships designed and displaced by SC academic practices, as well as overcoming the constraints of SC discourses providing conceptual and methodological tools to design new kind of SC technologies.
    Taking this perspective, we ask for contributions addressing:
    1) the academic and industrial construction of SC within and across disciplines;
    2) the design of social relationships in SC initiatives and their displacement in SC use;
    3) the engagement of STS researchers, lexicon, and methods, as a practice-based intervention in the design of SC technologies;
    4) the facilitation of social inclusion in SC projects.

Deadline of submission is 18 March 2012, and all submissions have to be made via the conference’s homepage—there you can also read the conference’s overall abstract/cfp and download the abstracts/cfps [.pdf | 372KB] of all 106 open panels. Reading through these already is worthwhile, imho.
    Speaking of worthwhile—once there I browsed a bit through the 4S website, and guess what I found under the label of scholarly resources‘a list of movies with significant STS themes, also submitted by members.’
    As I am an anthropologist by profession, people oftentimes wonder because of the contents of my blog here—all that science fiction and especially cyberpunk stuff, not to mention the cyberpunkish materials listings, especially the vast list of cyberpunkish motion pictures [continuously updated, it again has grown significantly]. Well, I am trying to make a point and that way am collecting material for supporting my point, namely that a particular ilk of cultural products (those falling into what I call the cyberpunk discourse) are crucial for understanding contemporary society and culture.
    As it seems the Society for Social Studies of Science is of similar opinion :-)

But back on topic: 1) Maurizio’s workshop goes well with the recently announced workshop relocating science and technology, taking place in Halle/Saale, Germany, from 18 through 20 July 2012. 2) In respect to Maurizio’s workshop’s topic I’d like to hint at the work of Matti Tedre, especially his Ethnocomputing: A Multicultural View on Computer Science (2002) and The Development of Computer Science: A Sociocultural Perspective (2006). Have a look at all his publications, many of them available for download there.

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