Category Archives: technology

“Politico-technical Systems”

By | April 6, 2015

I have put up another post on the LinkedIn Pulse blog with the above title, attempting to if not actually making organizational politics wholly legitimate and above board, at least letting it be allowed for and understood. Just because you don’t want to see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

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RIP: The US Office of Technology Assessment

By | March 1, 2015

Thinking about the adult literacy study that Lynne Marcus, I, and our crack team put together caused me to wax nostalgic about the federal agency that sponsored the whole event: an arm of the US Congress called the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Established in 1972 as a specialized arm of the legislative branch assigned to investigate scientific and technological issues that might come before Congress in the form of legislation,

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“Case Studies Of Technology Use In Adult Literacy Programs”

By | February 21, 2015

Context matters, and nowhere more than in information technology. IT is such a powerful force in all our lives that we are fixated on the current moment, and usually have a hard time recalling how things were massively different, only a few years ago. For those of us of a Certain Age, it’s now almost impossible to recall the time when telephones were the private property of The Phone Company (TPC) and hardwired into wall sockets;

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Another new story

By | December 4, 2014

I recently published in Medium a brief memoir:

A historical footnote on graphs, social networks, and research in the old days

It recalls the days back in the early 1980s when at the National Science Foundation we began to apply social network analysis – then a largely unheard-of line of inquiry –

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On systems and systems thinking

By | October 25, 2014

Some time back, in connection with a class I was teaching, I posted a question to the
Socio-Technical Systems Roundtable (STS RT) discussion board on LinkedIn asking about what kind of developed procedures there might be for conducting socio-technical design studies. This provoked a vigorous discussion with a goodly number of participants, and generated a lot of useful advice.

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À la recherche du technologie perdu [Part 2]

By | May 3, 2014

Reminiscences on lost technologies continue…with a whole lot of great links to things and stuff. Check them out!

In 1971-72, I was working with the Public Health Service to implement the National Health Service Corps. We were getting bombarded with letters from communities around the country that thought they ought to have one of our doctors –

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À la recherche du technologie perdu [Part 1]

By | May 1, 2014

Contrary to popular opinion, I did not actually write my PhD dissertation on parchment with a quill, although it was so many generations of technology ago that I might as well have. There is something quite sobering about realizing that one’s cherished moments of technological innovativeness feature devices now enshrined in the Permanent Collections of the Smithsonian. But since the new cutting edge of technology is not hardware but software,

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MOOCs and the future of higher education [Part 2]

By | April 8, 2014

So just what are MOOCs, anyway, and why should we care? Aren’t they just hype, or worse – a gimmick dreamed up by the for-profit sector to flimflam the non-elites? There’s certainly an element of marketing gee-whiz. The first MOOCs were largely show-off technology, but also partly marketing devices used by their universities to publicize special areas of expertise.

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Technology and magic (Part 2)

By | February 24, 2014

In the previous post on this topic, I observed that a large portion of our interactions with technology, particularly information technology, takes the form of magic. That is, we know how to perform certain actions on the machine that result in consequences we want, although we haven’t really much idea about how those consequences are achieved.

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Discrimination, representation, and ecological fallacies

By | February 6, 2014

​Back in November 2013, Alice Marwick published an article in Wired Online entitled “Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs”. In it, she basically claimed that women and minorities were being systematically cut out of the Silicon Valley elite by assorted Powers That Be. It’s an interesting article, and as might be suspected,

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