Philosophers of Technology have often argued that technologies are value-laden rather than being merely value-neutral. One reason for thinking so is because the act of building or making always presupposes value-judgments about what we think is worth building or making in the first place. Put another way, what we make or build often reveals what we think is worth doing: making and building reveal what we take to be a problem, and whether that problem is worth solving.
In Paper 2, you wrote about how introducing new technologies into different cultures require their people to adapt or change their lifestyles, including the sphere of life we might call the political (that is, how and where they work, how they think, how they live, how they form organizations and institutions, etc.). In Paper 3, you will do the same kind of analysis: this time, with a social media platform of your choice.
Consider a social media platform of your choice that is being used in a country outside the US and Canada. Consider the influence of values (through the concept of values infrastructures) upon the designers and the adopting populations. Explain how the adopting culture has changed in response to internal and external pressures made manifest by the social media platform. (See also the Rokeach Values Survey and Hall-Tonna Values Inventory for examples of values.)
Required Reading/Citation: S.D. Noam Cook, Design and Responsibility
In the write up, be sure to:
1. Describe what social media platform you are investigating and the country in which it is being used. (eg. TicTok, WeChat)
2. Explain: what reasons can you think of for why it exists?; how was it made?; who made it?; and for whom was it made?
3. Try to list spe tcific values that best explain the intentions behind the social media platform that you picked (using Cook’s concept of a ‘values infrastructure’). Consider the intentions behind the design (as you perceive them) and the intentions of the targeted end users. Can you anticipate or foresee unintentional consequences as a result of the platform? Can you foresee whether the platform will be used ethically or unethically?
4. Give a reasoned defense for how you reached your conclusions and defend your position appealing to the theories of technology discussed in class and readings.