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Social Shaping of Technology: Exploring the Dialectic Model Between Technology, Social Users, and Online Behaviour.



The intricate relationship between technology and society has always been a fascinating subject. Both elements continuously influence each other, shaping our world in various ways. The social shaping of technology theory suggests that technology is not developed in isolation but is moulded by social factors such as culture, politics, and economics (Bijker, Hughes, & Pinch, 2012). Moreover, online behaviour is shaped by algorithms and by the beliefs users have about what the technology is best suited for, how they use it, and the norms they develop when using the technology (Seargeant & Tagg, 2019). This blog post will delve into the dialectic model between technology and social users, exploring its different phases, implications, and the importance of ongoing dialogue.


The Dialectic Model: A Dance of Innovation and Adaptation

The dialectic model between technology and social users lies at the heart of the social shaping of technology theory. This model envisions technology and society engaging in a cyclical dance, with each partner influencing the other in a continuous feedback loop (Bijker et al., 2012). The model comprises three phases: development, implementation, and use.


Development: Where Social Needs Meet Technical Expertise

Engineers and other experts employ their technical know-how during development to design and create innovative products and services. However, social factors, such as user needs, market demands, and government regulations, also significantly shape the design process (O'Brien & Marakas, 2011). For instance, the emergence of electric cars was driven by concerns over climate change and the quest for sustainable transportation alternatives. The engineers responsible for designing these vehicles had to accommodate social users' preferences and requirements, ensuring the final product was practical and appealing.


Implementation: Spreading the Word and Winning Hearts

In the implementation phase, technology is introduced through various channels like advertising, education, and government policies. Cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes determine how technology is marketed and adopted by society (Seargeant & Tagg, 2019). For example, the widespread adoption of smartphones can be attributed to the desire for constant connectivity and the cultural shift towardconstantly refined digital communication. Smartphone manufacturers had to devise marketing strategies that resonated with consumers, persuading them to embrace these new devices.


Use: A Dynamic Feedback Loop of Interaction and Modification

Finally, social users interact with technology during the use phase, modifying it to suit their needs and preferences. This feedback loop fosters a continuous cycle of innovation and adaptation (O'Brien & Marakas, 2011). Social media platforms, for example, have evolved over time to incorporate new features and functionalities based on user feedback and demands. These platforms are in a constant state of refinement to ensure they cater to the ever-changing needs and preferences of their user base.



Implications and Lessons from the Dialectic Model

The dialectic model between technology and social users carries several critical implications for the social shaping of technology theory:

  1. Social factors matter: The design and development of technology should consider social factors. Engineers and designers must prioritize social users' needs and preferences to create relevant and valuable technology.

  2. Embrace user feedback: The evolution of technology relies on user feedback and adaptation. Companies must be receptive to feedback from social users and use it to continually enhance their products and services.

  3. Consider social consequences: The dialectic model also underscores the need to acknowledge the social implications of technology. Unintended consequences on society must be anticipated and mitigated during the design and implementation of technology (Seargeant & Tagg, 2019).

  4. Foster ongoing dialogue: The continuous feedback loop between technology and social users necessitates ongoing communication and adaptation. Companies must remain open to dialogue with their target audience and adapt their products and services to meet evolving needs and preferences.

In summary, the social shaping of technology theory posits that technology does not develop in a vacuum but is influenced by social factors like culture, politics, and economics. The dialectic model between technology and social users highlights the cyclical process of innovation and adaptation that characterizes the relationship between technology and society. By understanding the interplay between technology and social users and the role of online behaviour and algorithms, we can better comprehend the complex dynamics at play. This understanding enables us to work towards creating relevant and valuable technology and considers its users' beliefs, needs, and norms. In doing so, we can foster a more inclusive, adaptive, and responsible technological landscape that positively impacts society. Until next time, Bubble bot out!



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