This week’s topic has me pondering Digital technology and the internet as resources that have made vast amounts of information available for researchers, Meaning that these days researcher would be hard pressed to undertake a project without the use of these technological tools. However, the design and structure of these objects can have direct results on a social scientist’s work. Matt Ratto’s article “Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life” and Langdon Winner’s article “Citizen virtues in a technological order” advocate individuals being part of technology creation processes. Winner argues for the creation of public spaces consisting individuals with diverse backgrounds working together to create systems serve everyone’s needs (2008, pg. 354-359). Ratto describes critical making as the connection of critical thinking and practical goal based material work (2011, pg. 253). Through this he aims to move technologies functioning from “a matter of fact” to “a matter of concern” (Ratto, 2011, pg. 259). From this statement, I derive that the design of the technologies do not have to determine all, but if one has an understanding of the design of these technologies they will be able to understand the effects they have as well as have an influence on them.
In my role as a small-scale social science researcher I might not directly engage in critical making or be involved in a public space devoted to the design of technology, but the ideas provided have important lessons. Technology does not have to be the determinant of research results. An understanding of the working of these systems will allow me to understand how they may affect my work so that I may use the systems in the way that best suits me.
Ratto, M. (2011). Critical making: conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. The Information Society, 27(4).
Winner, L. (1992). Citizen virtues in a technological order. Inquiry, 35, 341-61.