Shining a brighter light into the digital black box: A call for stronger sociological (re)engagement with digital technology design, development and adoption debates
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Hynes, Mike. (2018). Shining a brighter light into the digital ‘black box’: A call for stronger sociological (re)engagement with digital technology design, development and adoption debates. Irish Journal of Sociology, 26(1), 94-126. doi: 10.1177/0791603517741605
Technology permeates our lives having significant effects on how we communicate, live, work and play. Information Communication Technologies have allowed individuals stay connected to family, friends and work colleagues and has brought about broad societal benefits. But technologies are not limited to having positive impacts and consequences; they have led to widespread job loss in particular industries with consequential negative social costs, others to the development of globally destructive weaponry and increased environmental harm. This paper has three aims. Overall, it is a call for stronger sociological (re)engagement in crucial digital technology debates and its significant and frequently disruptive nature upon society. Thus, it begins with a review of key literature with respect to traditional technology development processes. A theory is presented on the phenomenon of fake news and how digital communications and the unrestrained wild west culture of the Web 2.0 revolution have facilitated a state where fact and fiction wrestle for online attention and popularity. The paper concludes with a brief look at areas of particular concern with regards to contemporary technology development and a call for sociology to reposition itself centrally in debates about new digital technologies that are fundamentally changing societies, communities and lives.