Saturday, October 13, 2007

Alphabet Soup

"STS" is not a term that has had much meaning for me, except perhaps as a mispronunciation of the sixties radical political group on college campuses. However, Science and Technology Studies is a field that is increasingly recognized in the academy, and the panel on "Knowing in Action" tried to grapple with the necessary challenges of combining the roles of activist and observer. Yale Information Society visiting fellow Laura DiNardis discussed the importance of Open Standards to the group, which also does work on DRM and Internet Voting. A lawyer, who is also an engineer by training, DiNardis told chilling stories about how interoperability could be a critical factor in crisis situations. She described how victims of the pan-Continental tsunami were left waiting for aid while different agencies struggled to exchange documents in different formats and how survivors of Hurricane Katrina were unable to register for aid without Internet Explorer. She pointed out that there will be an important meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Brazil next month. Her group is also planning symposia on reputation economies as well.

The big theme of this panel was "deliberation," so I often found in hard to listen without squirming in my seat from what passes for my conscience. Although I consider myself relatively engaged with my community, I generally avoid all occasions for deliberation. Like many other professionals, I jealously guard my scarce personal time. And yet, what am I missing from ditching the time-consuming sessions with the PTA, church committees, and the governance of the school band and local Boy Scout troop? According to this group: a lot. I don't mind general volunteering as such, but there is something about the inefficiencies of back and forth consensus-building, which is often abandoned at a given meeting in the interest of getting everyone home by the next day, that irks me.

Labels: , , ,

1 Comments:

Anonymous Dr Blight said...

"there is something about the inefficiencies of back and forth consensus-building, which is often abandoned at a given meeting in the interest of getting everyone home by the next day, that irks me"

Well quite. I would even go so far as to say:

"the inefficiencies of back and forth consensus building irk me."

11:58 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home