The politics of design: Next generation computational environments

TitleThe politics of design: Next generation computational environments
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsAckerman, MS
EditorElliott, MS, Kraemer, KL
Book TitleComputerization movements and technology diffusion: From mainframes to ubiquitous computing
PublisherInformation Today
CityNew York
Keywordspervasive, Semantic Web, socio-technical, socio-technical design, socio-technical evolution, ubicomp

This paper describes and analyzes two next-generation computational environments and their architectures: the Semantic Web and pervasive computing. Each of these necessarily carries with it political assumptions about how the environments will be used, and these political assumptions are reflected in the accompanying computerization movement’s rhetoric. However, unlike "first growth" computerization efforts, both the Semantic Web and pervasive computing will result within a growing infrastructure that does not allow topdown design (or even overall design) but within which new designs must fit. The underlying assumptions for both environments are largely libertarian but with differing modalities of user control. This paper examines the libertarian assumptions, the promise of democratization in one but not the other, and the resulting conceptual tensions surrounding these two second-generation computerization movements.