The coevolution of society and multimedia technology - Issues in predicting the future innovation and use of a ubiquitous technology

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Multimedia technology is becoming ubiquitous in modern society, and it is having profound effects on institutions and expectations. The technology is very fluid, and development is shaped by a great many social factors. Prediction of the coevolution 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 as well as on the emergence of stable uses, infrastructures, standards, and development paths. This article criticizes "technologically deterministic" approaches, which simply seek to extrapolate social change from technological potential. It shows how a three-layer model of component, system, 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 from education, retailing, and work organization, and lessons for understanding technology futures are illustrated by research in different industry and user sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-282
Number of pages15
JournalSocial science computer review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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