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Author Information: Joshua Earle, Virginia Tech, jearle@vt.edu

Earle, Joshua. “Visioneering a Better Future: The Hieroglyph Project, STS, and the Future of Science and Technology.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 67-83.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1LR

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O n October 2nd, 2014 authors, scientists, policy experts and journalists gathered to ask how the future of science and technology intersects with fiction and storytelling. Future Tense—a partnership between the New America Foundation, Arizona State University and Slate magazine—and Issues in Science and Technology hosted “Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?” at the National Academies in Washington D.C. Inspired by Neal Stephenson’s 2011 piece “Innovation Starvation” and the resultant Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future anthology, the panelists tackled questions from the ethics of robot babysitters and drones, to who will get to imagine for the human race, how neuroscience might improve lives and the ethics therein, surveillance and privacy concerns, and the place of fiction in tackling wicked problems. I will take you through brief description of the Hieroglyph project, then introduce each of the panels with embedded videos, and then discuss some of the issues raised, some criticism of the discussions (including reactions of some of the people participating in the online discussion during the event), as well as identifying places where Science Technology and Society scholars may have be able to leverage our own expertise to affect some beneficial change.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Gregory Sandstrom, European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania, SERRC, gregorisandstrom@yahoo.com

Sandstrom, Gregory. 2012. Laws of media – The four effects: A McLuhan contribution to social epistemology. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1 (12): 1-6.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-uc

In 1988, Eric McLuhan published some of the final papers of his father’s pioneering work, weaving together his own thoughts on language, media and communication in the form of a systematic approach to media studies, technology and culture. As a book with a method-as-starting-point, the McLuhans’ left open the possibility for future scholars to continue their work on media effects, the so-called ‘laws of media.’ What was needed was to find a way for them to be further applied, to become compatible or to resonate with various scientific and research communities in the electronic-information era.

This article briefly presents the laws of media or ‘Four Effects.’ The purpose is to contribute to what people think and know (cf. epistemologically) about science and technology, as individuals and as members of various societies. The provocative McLuhan Media Model can be applied as a way of exploring the relationship between causes and effects, which is an interdisciplinary topic of great extension.

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was engaged in questioning and investigating the effects of print, electronic technology and various forms of ‘new media’ as they influence our lives. Together at the University of Toronto with Eric Havelock, Northrop Frye, Edmund Carpenter, Walter J. Ong and briefly with Harold Innis, from the early 1950’s to late 1970s, McLuhan and their ‘Toronto Communication School’ delivered profound, if not always mainstream or quickly comprehendible insights into the history of language and speech (e.g. orality vs. literacy) and their impact on science, technology and culture. McLuhan believed that the essential message of human-made media is found when we realize that media are ‘outterings’ or ‘utterings’ (cf. ‘extensions’) of ourselves, and that by learning about them we thus also learn about ourselves.

This description may raise initial concerns from some readers. For example, should such topics as media and communications even count as ‘scientific’ (usually ‘natural science’ is the common meaning in Anglo-Saxon discourse) let alone suggest the possibility that they constitute the topical basis for a ‘new science,’ as indicated in Laws of Media’s subtitle? Could an English professor ever possibly hope to solve long-standing theoretical and applied puzzles in or about science and human nature, through cross-disciplinary applications of literary theory to culture? To answer these concerns is yet another test for the McLuhan method, and may ultimately help to measure Marshall McLuhan’s legacy in the increasingly wired ‘global village’ and explain his lasting success and influence as a so-called sage and visionary of the electronic-information age. [1] Continue Reading…