The Co-Evolution of Society and Multimedia Technology

The Co-Evolution of Society and Multimedia Technology

James Stewart (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Robin Williams (University of Edinburgh, Scotland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-878289-86-5.ch004
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Multimedia technology is becoming ubiquitous in modern society, and it is having profound effects on institutions and our expectations of the future. The technology is very fluid, and its development is shaped by a great many social factors. Prediction of the co-evolution of multimedia technology and society needs to be informed by a research framework that focuses attention on the key social, psychological, political and economic influences on technology and technology use, and the emergence of stable uses, infrastructures, standards and development paths. The paper criticises ‘technological determinist’ approaches, which simply seek to extrapolate social change from technological potential. It shows how a three layer model of component, systems and application technologies can be used to integrate findings from the use and development of technology in specific sectors. Three cases of technology-based predictions are examined, and lessons for understanding technology futures are illustrated by research in different industry and user sectors.

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