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2010/09/28-Third ICT & Society Network Meeting in Castelldefels

posted 28 Sept 2010, 11:30 by José María Díaz Nafría   [ updated 22 Oct 2011, 07:59 ]
During the stay of our colleague Wolfgang Hofkirchner at the
Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Castelldefels (Barcelona) between April and July 2010, The Unified Theory of Information Research Group (UTI, directed by Wolfgang) organized in IN3 headquarters the third ICT & Society Network Meeting. The Network, integrated by more than 160 researchers, was founded in 2008 by the UTI Group. Its pursues analyzing the impacts of the ICTs in society and promoting the design of these technologies from the society itself, by means of a balanced combination of empirical research, theoretical studies and technological design. The network was founded on the occasion of a first Meeting held at the University Salzburg, Austria, 2008, then followed by a second edition at the University of Trento, Italy, 2009.

In this 3rd edition, a well equilibrated distribution of works in the mentioned 3 poles, including contributions of  researchers in training (PhD Consortium), whose approaches –as Christian pointed out- sometimes overtook amateur ones, in expositive clarity and social interest. The keynotes were held by William Dutton from the Oxford Internet Institute (Oxford Internet Institute) about the impact of research in Internet, particularly the project “World Internet”, and by Juliet Webster (Work and Equality Research, London) about the interrelation of research and politics in ICTs. The rest of the sessions were convened around the following topics: 1) Theorising the Internet; 2) Critical Information Studies (a nascent transdiscipline); 3) A identity crisis: generalism vs specialism in the network society, 4) Social, economical and political Inequalities. In a last plenary session, the future of the ICTs & Society Network was discussed. Here, it was agreed that the direction of the Network will be further held by Wolfgang and Christian will, taking a relevant role the convenor of the following Meeting. For 2012 Singapore was proposed, but there is a vacancy for 2011, open to any proposal.

BITrum contributed to the Meeting –beyond the obvious involvement of Wolfgang and Christian- by means of contributions as well as collaboration in organizing the Meeting. José María with Matthiass Schafranek chaired the session “Theorizing the Internet”, in which Rainer Zimmerman and Lazlo Karvalics took part, who -as previously announced- are BITrum members since then. In the session in which the controversy between generalim and specialism was posed, Carlos Aguilar and José María defended two viewpoints concerning the understanding of information. Whereas Carlos advocated for a multidisciplinar approach exemplified by domusBITae initiative, José María defended a interdisciplinary stance represented by the BITrum project.

It is really to appreciate the opening of a space of reflexion like this, in which the safeguarding of the social interest is at stake. These endeavours provide a road to substantiate such interest in the technologies, which everyday occupy more space in our lives: liberating them to some extend, but also tying them. We should make balance to make a real benefit for all. Although this is not easy at all, the endeavour has to be taken. Our most cordial thanks to our colleagues of the UTI for persevering in the intent.