Society and technology

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Revision as of 04:56, 2 October 2006 by Travis (talk | contribs) (Goals of the SocTech group)

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The society and technology interest group (soctech) is an informal interest group that we are starting up among UW-CSE students to promote awareness of various social computing issues, in both CSE and the UW. We collaborate with other departments, with possible aims including the production of cross-departmental courses, lecture series, or white papers.

We have a mailing list, soctech@cs. Here's the public list info page.

Goals of the SocTech group

  • Connecting the social concerns, legal landscape, and technical aspects of transformative technologies: In the university, it is often easy to get lost daydreaming about abstract theories or caught up in the inner workers of some protocol or mechanical gadget. We want to step back and understand the larger context within which much of our research is taking place. How does technology get incorporated into people's everyday lives? What concerns are being raised about the technologies in question? Are there actions that can be taken to address these concerns?
  • Dialogue between disciplines: We want to establish common vocabulary between groups with different expertise. Disciplines bring different frames of reference on the problems that we all confront--whether its technical perspectives from CS or EE or legal expertise from students of the law or a rich understanding of social forces from sociologists and communications folks. Addressing the many possiblities and problems that face our information-intensive society require dialogue across these boundaries.
  • Dialogue with the public: It is easy for us to debate sociotechnical issues to our heart's content, but it won't have much impact unless we try to make connections with the public at large. A better informed public can make better decisions about its (and our) future. Our position as university elite does not mean that we need to be elitist.


  • soctech seminar: Weekly seminar/reading group held in CSE; open to all students
The seminar is our primary current activity; see the individual quarter pages for more details.

We have also, at various times in the past and with varying levels of success, tried other things.

People and organizations


Current UW-CSE coordinator: Travis Kriplean

Current UW law coordinator: Jim Sfekas

Other people

(feel free to add your name here)

UW departments

We're in informal contact with most of these, or have been in the past. The extent to which we actually work with them varies widely.