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Democratic Participation in the Technological Design Process

HGKZ (Zurich), November 2006, PART 1

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Democratic Participation in the Technological Design Process

  1. 1. Participation Motivations for Participation Democratization of Participation in Design Process Trebor Scholz HGKZ, Zurich 11/06
  2. 2. When talking about situated technologies comes down to earth iDC Trebor Scholz
  3. 3. dystopia utopia this talk
  4. 4. Technological development is a battlefield of contesting interest groups . When computing steps to the back and networked sociality moves to the front: what are the pitfalls and opportunities? - Telegraph operators as pioneers of “online dating” - Minority Report - Battle over Internet Neutrality
  5. 5. military private sector architects hobbyists hackers Floss Movement government regulators
  6. 6. While technology is not the fix to all social problems: visions of the future need to consider the ability of technology to address human needs.
  7. 8. Corporate labs are the cheerleaders for technological development that decide about acceptance or rejection of technologies. This process deeply impacts society and therefore it must be subject to public deliberation and more transparency about the coding and rules that dictate the behavior of technological everyday things. There is a need for a movement of democratic participation in design decisions.
  8. 9. The few who shape the technological design process paternalize the many who are shaped by it.
  9. 10. <ul><li>WHAT REALLY STINKS </li></ul><ul><li>AIDS pandemic </li></ul><ul><li>Global warming </li></ul><ul><li>Fragmentation and de-skilling of labor </li></ul><ul><li>“ Outsourcing” of unfulfilling and dangerous work to the global south </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of global distribution of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Time poverty in North America </li></ul><ul><li>The working poor </li></ul><ul><li>47 million Americans are uninsured </li></ul>
  10. 11. People in the foresight business love the magic of technology. The problem is not wonderment but the mystification of technology . Things are magic to people because they don’t understand how they work. This “ technological voodoo ” makes us forget the flimsy nature of our devices.
  11. 12. Most technological development is market-driven. Its foremost goal is profit and not human dignity and well-being . Not everything possible is desirable; there is much redundancy and nonsense. What adds value to technology?
  12. 13. With the network increasingly pervading the city, there will be more interaction between people and things. Already today there is huge problem with addiction to the Internet in the U.S. and a vertigo of trivial choices , which are major causes for stress, depression and anxiety (Schwartz: 2006). Will the Internet of Things elevate this?
  13. 15. Decentralized participation An increasing number of web applications are created by relative non-experts.
  14. 16. Technological development process decentralization broad democratic participation controlled by private sector show one web app
  15. 19.
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  17. 21. Amateur participation in hardware design is much less common as interlinked design complexity requires expert knowledge. Citizen involvement requires a felt consciousness , an understanding of the technologies.
  18. 22. The Danish Approach involves the public in participatory assessment projects and scenario workshops, just like trial juries but without unanimity. Deliberative polling combined with the sorts of controls used to evaluate new drugs [Nye: 2006]
  19. 23. Attempted Participatory Movements: FLOSS development World Trade Center
  20. 24. Support DIY Movements
  21. 25. Preemptive Media: AIR /
  22. 26. How Stuff Is Made
  23. 27. Design proposals for networked objects: Develop use scenarios in which things bear witness to atrocities (i.e. Darfour, Woomera, Rwanda). precursor:
  24. 28. Every society should give its citizens the possibility to influence the construction of technological systems.
  25. 29. Collective action is easier mobilized against specific ills of society rather than for a vague future (Hardin: 1982).
  26. 30. iDC Trebor Scholz Occupying the Imaginary of Future Technologies Short-term goal micro-political technical interventions that restructure networked (urban) sociality create a felt consciousness of the social impact of technologies refusal to buy useless prestige objects Long-term goal build broad democratic movement determines technological design process (social movement: made up of alliances).