Brilliant article on social networks. I know I’m picking out the mini-elements here rather than the bigger picture, but that’s what it’s about, no?
Only by looking at technologies in use, beyond the intentions defined during their design, can we get a complete picture of the simultaneous surrender and delegation of agency taking place between humans and technology… Disco, for instance, makes two astute observations about what we can learn by weighing design intentions with actual use:
This suggests two untested and speculative first approximations about the relationship between design intentions and ultimate use: First, the complexity of an artifact is something like inversely proportional to its flexibility-in-use. Second, the more context-bound an artifact, the less likely actual use will deviate from the use envisioned by designers. (ibid, p. 50)
In other words, the more complex the technology, and the more specific its design in terms of addressing a particular situation, the less freedom its users will have to find diverse applications for it.
I have to confess to never having given ANT the time that I should have – the slacker in me is hoping that one day I can get Ulises & Chris to explain it in person :)