Technology Without Ends: A Critique of Technocracy as a Threat to Being

Is “Human 2.0” really a testament to the greatness of the spirit, or simply a collection of useless features that not only fail to improve on the original, but in fact bar the doors to any kind of evolution that deviates from a particular path?

“Socialist” Software

A case can be made that Social Software contributes to the commodification of knowledge and social interactions, or that it is simply a way for companies to make money off your labor/data. But as we know, there’s more to it than that. Social Software can also embody a set of social practices that are downright, […]

In Defense of the Digital Divide as Paralogy (v 1.0)

As I have suggested before, we have not done enough in the field of Education and Technology to address Lyotard’s concerns about the commodification of knowledge through the digital technologies we use (commodification means the transformation of things with no monetary value into things with monetary value —or commodities— through their subordination to the logic of capitalism). To put it in alarmist terms that are certain to catch your attention: If we are to take Lyotard’s analysis seriously, the gadgets and gizmos we are currently enamored with —edublogs, eduwikis, eduRSS feeds, and such— are nothing more than the tools of hegemonic capitalism.

What is social about social software?

Before we forget all about the label Social Software and move on to Web 2.0, 3.0, or whatever comes next, I think it would be useful to dwell a little bit on the use of the word ‘social’ as applied in this term. What does it mean for software to be social? Intuitively, we know that Social Software is software that fulfills some sort of social function, allowing us to form social connections, and perform social activities that give shape to social groups. But as evidenced by the number of times I just used the word ‘social’ to define Social Software, it is clear that what we have here is a tautology: by taking for granted what we understand by ‘social,’ the adjective in question both provides an absolute definition and at the same time manages to define nothing.

Teaching Social Software with Social Software: A report

This post discusses some of the lessons learned during a graduate course I taught at Teachers College, Columbia University. Social Software Affordances was offered during the Fall of 2005, and 13 graduate students from the Communication, Computing and Technology in Education (CCTE) program at TC enrolled in the course. The main goal of the course was for students to acquire proficiency in the use of blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and distributed classification systems while engaging in a critical analysis of the affordances of social software (what the software makes possible and what it impedes). The class also asked students to apply their newly acquired social software skills and knowledge to promote a social cause or project of their choosing. The dynamics and outcomes of the course are discussed below.

Social agency and the intersection of communities and networks (draft)

by Ulises A. Mejias Abstract Different meanings have been ascribed to the concepts of ‘community’ and ‘network’ throughout history, and particularly since the emergence of the internet. In this paper, I suggest definitions for these two concepts based on how social agency is distributed between humans and code, and outline a set of research categories […]

The Unfixedness of Knowledge: Discourse, Genre, and Mode in Wikipedia

Wikipedia ( is the world’s largest online free-content encyclopedia. This means that unlike the content of traditional encyclopedias, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, the content of Wikipedia is free. But perhaps a more important distinction is that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, at any time. This may sound counterproductive, as the purpose of an […]

Facilitating the social annotation and commentary of web pages

UPDATE: For a response to some comments by James Farmer, Stephen Downes and Ian Kallen, see the bottom of this post. Subtitle: A postscript to my work on Distributed Textual Discourse (DTD) At last year’s 16th Annual Instructional Technology Institute Conference at Utah State University, I presented a paper on Distributed Textual Discourse. DTD is […]

Telepistemology, Combat Robots, and Human Pacman

[The following comments were presented during the War and (Computer/Video) Gaming session at the Occupied Spaces Symposium, Roy H. Park School of Communications, Ithaca College, April 8 and 9, 2005.] First, I want to thank Patty Zimmerann for inviting me to this symposium. Patty played a vital role in my intellectual development when I was […]