Society and technology
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.
The society and technology seminar (CSE 590 T, formerly CSE 590 SO) is a weekly seminar that brings together students and scholars from a variety of fields to discuss the impacts of computing (and other technologies) on the larger world. If you have ideas for a future soctech seminar, or would be willing to organize one, please contact the current soctech coordinator!
The course is organized by soctech@cs and listed under the UW Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering, but undergraduate and graduate students in all departments are encouraged to sign up. Enrollment is open; see the pages for individual quarter offerings for details.
Current and past quarters
- Soctech seminar, Spring 2007: RFID Case study: ORCA cards
- Soctech seminar, Fall 2006: RFID Technology
- Soctech seminar, Spring 2006: Social Ramifications of Search Technologies
- Soctech seminar, Spring 2005: Electronic books and media
- Soctech seminar, Winter 2005: Software security, law, and public policy
to sign up for the course mailing list. Contact the current soctech coordinator if you have any difficulty signing up.
We have also, at various times in the past and with varying levels of success, tried other things.
People and organizations
Current UW law coordinator: Jim Sfekas
(feel free to add your name here)
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.
- Center for Internet Studies
- UW School of Law
- UW Information School