Concepts / Sociotechnology
It may be appropriate in simple contexts to consider technology as just that, technology, i.e. as the application of knowledge to meet specific goals, and as the result of that application.
A knife and fork are technology. You will want to know that they meet their design goals — ensuring they are easy to use for example — and there is no chance that things will get complex as more people come to the table.
Centralized provision of information technology may just about maintain this simple context, when its use by one individual does not necessarily involve another for example. However, whenever a technology is used in a social context, i.e. in one involving an existing group or set of relationships, or that brings these about through use, then to ignore the insights of the social sciences in the design process is to do yourself and those using the technology a disservice. In such instances, we’re talking sociotechnology, i.e. necessarily involving the application of insights from the social sciences to design policies and programs (see Bunge 1999).
It is unethical to approach sociotechnology merely as technology (see ethics of technology).
The more decentralized the information technology, the greater the imperative to ensure computer science comes to social science so to speak, learns from social science, works into social science (see Sheldrake 2022).
- Bijker, Wiebe E. (1997). Of bicycles, bakelites, and bulbs: toward a theory of sociotechnical change (PDF). Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 274. ISBN 9780262522274.
- Bunge, M. (1999). Social science under debate: A philosophical perspective. University of Toronto Press.
- Sheldrake, P. (2022). Web3’s future #fail is avoidable. Generative identity website.