Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN24_10: Information Technologies and Society
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Franc Mali, University of Ljubljana/ Faculty of Social Sciences
Location: UP.3.213
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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Reputation Technologies and Social Innovation: A New Approach

Stefano De Paoli

Abertay University, United Kingdom

This paper contributes to the problem of studying the intersections of digital technologies design and society. The paper shows how STS theory driven qualitative research can play an important role in shaping novel digital technologies. The paper is outcome of a European (H2020) Social Innovation project, whereby digital technologies are used to tackle social issues. The Pie-Project offers innovative digital tools to people who have experienced poverty due to the financial crisis, facilitating their emancipation from some of their conditions. The project sees sociologists and computer scientists working together in a transdisciplinary fashion.

One of the tools created by the project is an innovative reputation system, whose design was inspired by field research conducted in 3 countries (Italy, Croatia, Netherlands) and by social theory. Using qualitative interviews (34 conducted with e.g. precarious workers, NEETs, unemployed), digital observations of reputation systems (in e.g. self-help contexts) and workshops, we gathered the participants’ perspectives on their offline and online trust building processes (e.g. with other people or administrative bodies). From the data analysis, we concluded that mainstream approaches for building online reputation/trust, largely based on individualistic models, would not align with our respondents’ needs and particularly with their needs for emancipation from isolation, mistrust, despair, lack of connections. It emerged that our respondents would rather favour an approach, where reputation/trust is a common belonging to the community. Based on our findings, we have conceptualised a novel approach to online reputation called the Commonsahre, inspired by the notions of the Assemblage (DeLanda, 2006) and of the Density of social relations in a group.

DeLanda, M. (2006). A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. A&CBlack.

Blockchain Technology: Constructing a Progressive Framework for Development

Tom Redshaw

University of Salford, United Kingdom

Cryptocurrencies are a colossal waste of energy. In the ten years since the first transactions were made with Bitcoin, neither Bitcoin nor one of the thousands of subsequent cryptocurrencies have been proven to be more efficient, reliable or secure than alternative means of making electronic transactions. Nor has the blockchain technology underlying cryptocurrencies been found to offer anything more than established means of recording and storing data. Nevertheless, the use of cryptocurrencies has steadily grown over the past decade, university programmes for studying blockchain are increasing in number, and venture capital continues to pour into blockchain-related projects. What is motivating this sustained interest?

The STS tradition teaches us that technology development necessarily involves the simultaneous construction of visions for technology, visions which define the functionality, meaning and purpose of new technical devices for social groups. It is these visions which drive paths of developments, more so than any intrinsic technical features. But what are the visions, or ‘technological frames’ that have emerged around blockchain and continue to drive its development in various directions?

In this paper, I will draw on the findings of my primary research into blockchain technology to argue that its potential has been ceded to various strands of neoliberal imagining, and that what is necessary is a progressive framework for defining its purpose and guiding its future development.

Young University Students And News. Uses And Gratifications

Rodolfo Martinez-Gras, Eva Espinar-Ruiz, Cristina Gonzalez-Diaz

University of Alicante, Spain

Nowadays, Information and Communication Technologies continue generating changes in most social aspects and, of course, in the way young people in particular manage different sources of information. This is no less true for university students. The ways in which we communicate have all changed; and of course, Internet and Social Network Sites have also made accessing knowledge and information easier. However, there are still important lacks of knowledge around these media changes, fundamentally due to the relative ignorance about young people’s consumption and use of information and information sources.

For this reason, the main aim of this study is to know how young university students access, use and consume news. Our interest focuses on: preferences, motivations and gratifications that lead young people choose among different news and sources; utilization of devices, platforms and distribution channels (traditional mass media, websites, social networks, etc.); what kind of information they consume, how they consume it, and how they interact with this information (comments, participation in social networks, etc.); In order to analyze these aspects, a strategy of data production based on quantitative methodology has been designed, using a survey as the research technique in its self-applied modality. The total population is made up of all the students in Sociology and Advertising degrees at the University of Alicante (Spain), in the 2017-2018 academic year. The final selection of the sample has been made by means of multistage sampling, using simple random to select groups and then a quota sampling to select the final units.

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