Information System Essay

Topics: Internet, Sociology, Innovation Pages: 8 (2722 words) Published: March 11, 2015
Information System Essay
Candidate Number: 135702

Draw from the sociotechnical debate to discuss the emergence of two technologies - one developed before 1920 and one after. What are the implications of your analysis for our understanding of technological innovations? You are advised to choose technologies we have been discussing in the lectures and seminars.

There is no denying that technology has been an ever-apparent part of the human society. Today, technology is used in a variety of ways and is essential for the survival of the human society. While technology is wholly accepted as an essential part of life, there has always been a debate whether it is technology that revolutionizes society or society that influences technology, essentially a sociotechnical debate. The former is known as Technological Determinism that is defined as the assumption that technology is the driving force that brings about significant changes to a society’s culture and structure. The latter is known as Social Determinism and it is defined as society being a prerequisite for the production of technology. (Pannabeker, 1991)

While it is important to note that there is no right answer to this debate, each technological milestone does lean towards either side of the debate more than the other. The printing press, a technological milestone in 1450, in my opinion, leans towards the Social Deterministic point of view while the Internet, invented in the 1950s, leans towards the Technological Deterministic point of view (Cohen-Almagor, 2011) (Tunstall, 2003). This essay will discuss the arguments surrounding Social Determinism and Technological Determinism and then give its factors based on the inventions of the printing press and the Internet.

Technological Determinism

Technological Determinism views technology as not a part of society but an exogenous factor (Pannabeker, 1991). It views technology as the utilization of existing scientific knowledge in society but establishes a new creation. It believes that in order to produce new technology, existing technology must be used, however, the product created is considered new as it has its own set of rules and laws (Petrakaki, 2014). Technology could be seen as immune to cultural changes and be the cause of cultural changes. For example, mobile phones traditionally were of all different sorts of shapes and sizes with many different operating systems to cater to different cultures. Currently, with the advancement of technology, there are only three operating system manufactures, namely Microsoft, Google and Apple and these 3 systems cater to majority of the smartphone world, regardless of cultural differences (, 2014). Technology is also viewed to have caused significant social changes and this has not necessarily always been positive. The steam engine for example, played an important factor in the industrial revolution. While this was positive in improving efficiency levels and reducing production costs, it had very serious implications for labor relations, creating unrest as many people started to lose their jobs due to deskilling (The Steam Locomotive, 2014). The overall consensus is that technology is equivalent to progress as a society can only improve if technology improves. For example, the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has invested money into research on information technology, as it would improve the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency levels. This leads to the final point of Technological Determinism as it explains that it is organizations and societies that need to adapt, purchase and understand technology, and not the other way round, in order for problems to be solved and progress to be achieved (Petrakaki, 2014).

Social Determinism

Social Determinism agrees that technology does bring about social consequences however it argues that it is social factors that shape technological changes first (Pannabeker, 1991). Social...

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