Centre for Internet & Society

The Centre for Internet and Society announces the launch of its dialogue cafe, where every month, we approach seminal thinkers, scholars and practitioners to help explore knowledge paradigms that help us understand and research techno-social realities through innovative thought, concepts and frameworks.

The dialogue cafe draws upon different disciplines, histories, perspectives and intellectual legacies in order to respond to a seminal piece of writing that has changed, challenged and shaped the contours of interdisciplinary science and technology studies.

The dialogue cafe initiates several strands of dialogues — between critical thinkers and canonical texts, between different paradigm of knowledges that interact with digital and internet technologies, and between interlocutors located in different disciplines, to initiate critical thought/work for new and innovative research in the field of Internet and Society.

For its first brew of conversations, the Dialogue Cafe serves you...

Computation and the Humanities: Revisiting a Silent Revolution

Steve Jobs’ comments on how “technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities” made Apple hearts sing is today widely re-circulated, but not fully comprehended. We often take this to be the mark of one man’s genius, rather than the symptom of a broader interdisciplinary history. Noted Artificial Intelligence scholar Philip Agre recalls, “When I was a graduate student in artificial intelligence, the humanities were not held in high regard. They were vague and woolly, they employed impenetrable jargons, and they engaged in "meta-level bickering that never decides anything".

What happened, in the formative decades of Jobs and Agre’s generation, to bring technology and the humanities into conversation? What have the results been, other than well-designed personal computational devices, and what is the significance for us? On December 2, 2011, the Centre for Internet and Society invites you to a Dialogue Cafe, where we engage in exploring what this all means and what kinds of labour it might take to ‘marry’ these disparate ways of knowing.

As a response to Philip Agre’s seminal essay on “Critical Technology Practice”, the cafe will begin with an exposition by Kavita Philip (University of California, Irvine), opening up into a critical response spearheaded by Cherry Matthew, and leading to a larger dialogue with the audience, exploring fault lines of interdisciplinary research and challenges of integrated technology studies.

For more background on these questions, audience is encouraged (but not required) to explore the materials at Agre’s home page http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/, and STSrelated links from Wikipedia’s page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science,_technology_and_society