Overall Theme (San Francisco, February 2005):
Technology and Knowledge in an Open Society

Theme 1: Technologies for Human Use
  • Technology, knowledge and society: re-examining the connections.
  • Human-technology interaction, interfaces and useability.
  • Cybernetics, informatics, systemics and distributed networks.
  • New media, new communications channels: broadcasting, to narrowcasting, to pointcasting.
  • Open computing: the theory and practice of open source and free software.
  • Creative Commons.
  • Copyright and digital rights management.
  • Proprietary software and its human influences.
  • Data and metadata: meanings, boundaries, functions.
  • Open standards and the logistics of communicability and interoperability.
  • Structure and semantics in information.
  • The Semantic Web.
  • Markup languages, new markup practices, new literacies.
  • Wireless and mobile information and communications technologies.
  • Multilingualism, Unicode and machine translation.
  • Artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, intelligent agents.
Theme 2: Technologies for Participatory Citizenship
  • Technology, participation, access and equity.
  • Technology in capacity development.
  • Digital development: bridging the digital divide.
  • E-government, e-democracy and cyber-civics.
  • Participatory systems.
  • The politics of information.
  • Globalisation and technology.
  • Technological meets social transformation.
  • Technical and social systems of sustainability.
  • The wild world of the Web: regulation and its discontents.
Theme 3: Technologies for Autonomous Communities
  • Communities of practice and knowledge-creating communities.
  • Virtual communities.
  • Communities as publishers.
  • Communities as networks: the dynamics of collaboration and community building.
  • Information architectures: scaffolds for autonomy or restrictive straight-jackets?
  • Multi-channel publishing.
  • E-books and alternative reading devices.
  • Digital print, variable print and print-on-demand.
  • Digital repositories, archives and libraries.
  • Disability and access.
  • Differences of sensibility and access: gender, language, culture.
  • Cyber-identities.
  • Creative sources: the technologies of art and the arts of technology.
  • Cyber-ethics and cyber-law.
Theme 4: Technologies for New Learning
  • Learning by design: curriculum and instruction in the era of networked computing.
  • Edutainment: gaming as pedagogy.
  • Perception, cognition and interactivity.
  • Children of the digital era: learning styles and the challenges of engagement.
  • Interactive and collaborative learning.
  • Digital meanings, multimodal communications and multiliteracies.
  • Lifelong and lifewide learning.
  • E-learning on the job and in work-related training.
  • Organisational learning and the learning organisation.
  • Formal and informal learning.
  • Help menus and user-guides: website and software-integrated learning.
  • The virtual university.
  • E-humanities and e-social sciences.
  • E-learning in the professions.
Theme 5: Technologies for Common Knowledg
  • Technology in the service of the 'knowledge society'.
  • Data, information, knowledge, wisdom: re-examining core concepts.
  • Knowledge management: nurturing personal and common knowledge.
  • Information systems and people in organisations.
  • Research infrastructures.
  • Participatory design.
  • Intellectual property: approaches digital rights management.
  • Creative Commons and commercial realities: what are the economic conditions for knowledge and innovation?
  • E-commerce, open markets and open knowledge: contradictions or complementarities?
  • Technologies of security and terror.
  • The laws of cyberspace.

 

SCOPE AND CONCERNS

The Technology Conference and The International Journal of Technology create a forum for discussion and a place for the publication of innovative theories and practices relating technology to society.

The Conference and the Journal are cross-disciplinary in their scope, meeting points for technologists with a concern for the social and social scientists with a concern for the technological. The focus is primarily, but not exclusively, on information and communications technologies.

Equally interested in the mechanics of social technologies and the social impact of technologies, the Conference and the Journal are guided by the ideals of an open society, where technology is used to address human needs and serve community interests. These concerns are grounded in the values of creativity, innovation, access, equity and personal and community autonomy. In this space, commercial and community interests at times complement each other; at other times they appear to be at loggerheads. The conference and the journal will examine the nature of the new technologies, their connection with community, their use as tools for learning, and their place in a 'knowledge society'.

Technologies
Over the past quarter century, digital technologies have become signature change agents in all aspects of our domestic, working and public lives. Whether it is our awareness of the world through the media, formal or informal learning, shopping, banking, travelling or communicating, digital technologies are everywhere. The hardware is getting less expensive relative to the power of the technology. Meanwhile, a battle is being fought in the domain of intellectual property between software that is proprietary and sometimes closed, and software that is open and sometimes free.

How do we understand and evaluate the workings of these technologies? To answer this question we need to recruit the disciplines of computer science, software engineering, communications systems and applied linguistics. We need to develop and apply the conceptual tools of cybernetics, informatics, systemics and the theory of distributed networks. And how do we understand their effects? Here we might consider the impact of the new media, intelligent systems or human-machine interfaces.

Communities
The earlier information and communications technologies of modernity centralised power, knowledge and culture. They were heavy on plant and physical infrastructure-the printing presses, the transmission stations and the transport and distribution systems that only the corporation or the state could afford. They were centralised, driven by economies of (large) scale and dominated on a day-to-day basis by those with economic resources, political power and elite cultural networks.

The new digital technologies are free or cheap, instantaneous and global. They are decentralised and distributed. And so, it is argued that they open out and provide broader access to the means of production and communication of meaning. They are the bases for an electronic democracy, participatory design and communities of practice. They allow a myriad of cultures, interests and knowledge communities to flourish. Or at, least, this is one interpretation. In bleaker views, they add a digital divide to older historical cleavages of inequality; they daze us into passivity; they place our every movement under surveillance; they enforce a sedentary compliance.

Learners
There is little doubt that 'e-learning' is destined to become a larger part of the experience of learning at school, in universities, on the job, at home-indeed, lifelong and lifewide learning. Technology is now a central concern of education, not only from the point of view of preparing students for a world of work where networked computers are pervasive, but also from the point of view of community participation and citizenship. Learners who are excluded from the new information spaces, will clearly be economically, socially and culturally disadvantaged.

At its best, e-learning is a refreshingly new medium with a pedagogically new message. However, as the critics of e-learning rightly point out, much of what passes for e-learning is lock step, mechanical and individualised (one user/one screen), reflecting and reproducing pedagogies that are best dubious and at worst regressive. On the other hand, a more optimistic view notes the capacity of the new information and communication technologies to transform learning relationships. Instead of being the recipients of transmitted knowledge (syllabuses, textbooks, 'information' resources), institutions of learning might become places where teachers and learners develop knowledge banks, and where traditional classrooms, dominated by teacher talk, are replaced by open learning in which groups of students work autonomously and collaboratively on knowledge projects within a structured 'content management' environment.

Knowledge
The world is moving into a phase that is widely, and perhaps too glibly at times, referred to as a 'knowledge economy' or 'knowledge society'. Information and communications technologies, and their human effects, play a central part in this development.

These digital technologies allow new, bottom-up structures of knowledge to emerge, building from the collaborative endeavours of knowledge creating communities-such as workplaces, schools and associations of common interest. In each case, they provide the means by which personal knowledge can be shared and transformed into common knowledge. From being receptors of knowledge, persons, organisations and communities become makers and publishers of knowledge, reversing at least in part the fundamental epistemic flows of modernity and replacing this with a new 'dialogics' of knowledge.

The Technology Conference and the International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society provide a forum for discussion of the connections between technology and society. The perspectives presented range from big picture analyses which address global and universal concerns, to detailed case studies which speak of localised social applications of technology. Conference presentations and published papers traverse a broad terrain, sometimes technically and other times socially oriented, sometimes theoretical and other times practical in their perspective, and sometimes reflecting dispassionate analysis whilst at other times suggesting interested strategies for action.