This blog uses critical theory to try to understand the troublesome spots or the borderlands between binaries in the sociology of technology. Borderlands are always places of conflict. Often it is easier to stay on one side of the trouble and make claims. Staying with the trouble is an opportunity to see what the cause could be, finding out how to build bridges that will remain standing. For example, people love social media but know it is a place of conflict; or new technology is fun and important, but is it ethical? Sticking with how awesome technology can be is only one side of the coin, as is only questioning the ethics and the behaviour. Staying with the trouble means inquiring into how to reconcile both points of view.
I often live tweet as I read theory and method. I do this because it:
- Opens up access to ideas often locked behind a paywall; and
- Helps me process the ideas by summarising them in a short tweet and discussing them on Twitter.
It’s important to define some parameters up front. If I’m a social media and online researcher, why not ‘digital’? Technology has been around for as long as there have been humans. People have wondered about technology at many points in time as there have been many technological revolutions. I believe we can draw on those thought processes to think about current technological advancements. See this blog for example.
Thinking with theory – blogging as inquiry
In this blog I will write as inquiry as I read critical theory. This might take one of the following forms:
Riffing or rewriting a piece of critical theory through a technological lens
A riff isn’t necessarily straight from the original text. It is often a collage of sentences and concepts. The point of this method is to wonder what a theorist might think of the current technological revolution. This is an example of one prepared earlier.
Application of themes
Many theorists will work with their ideas under a number of themes or key questions. When using this method, I take a concept I am thinking through and see how the themes might be applied. This is an example of one prepared earlier.
As I think through technology with various theories, I begin to see certain points I think are important. When using this method, I write a list of my theoretical observations. I try to write the list in a logical order, where one idea leads to the next. This is an example of one I prepared earlier.
I believe that the development of theory is best achieved in a dialogic space, or what I call blogging as inquiry. Dialogics consider past, present and future thinking and blogs are technologically enabled places for this process to occur. Through a blog we can hyperlink to previous theory, explain our present thinking, and invite others to join in the conversation via Twitter or the blog comments. Here is a link to an open access paper I wrote about blogging as inquiry.