Read something the other day which set me thinking.

It was all about the social shaping of technology. Basically, when the development of any technology is considered, there are two main beliefs:

technological determinism - humans are determined by, rather than having influence over technology, technology is treated as given and has exogenous and autonomous development.

social shaping - technologies operate within a social context and are socially shaped such that they reflect the circumstances of development.

Personally I fall into the social shaping camp - but there are arguments each way.

It all gets interesting when you apply the two theories above to the Internet.

Does the Internet and the web have in effect a life of it's own - influencing all of us as it develops? or
Do we shape the Internet as we use it, with factors such as the state, social relations, economics, gender and existing technologies all having influence in it's development?

It really makes you think about our relationship with a technology which we nearly all use and take for granted.
I can't claim original thought here, but haven't seen a node looking at the Internet from this perspective.

A good book on the social shaping of technology is:
Weibe E. Bijker & John Law(Editor), Shaping Technology/Building Society : Studies in Socio-Technical Change (Inside Technology), MIT Press; ISBN: 0262521946

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