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This module will help you explore the broader social and technical impacts of business systems, services, and products. It has been developed to compliment another module, "Social and Technical Systems for Professional Decision-Making, m14025. It presents three lenses under which to view social and technical impacts: Technological Determinism, Social Construction, and Technological Politics. These lenses come from Robert Heilbroner, Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker, and Langdon Winner. It provides exercises that can be used to complement the readings provided in Technology and Society edited by Deborah Johnson and Jameson Wetmore. This "Technological Choice" module is part of the EAC Toolkit, a project developed under National Science Foundation grant SES 0551779.

Test cases

  • Your company, Cogentrix, proposes a cogeneration plant that uses coal to produce electricity and steam both of which it sells to make money. Because western Puerto Rico lacks electricity generating capacity and because the steam by-product can be sold to nearby tuna canning plants, your company finds the Mayagüez area particularly attractive. But there are rumors that different local constituencies oppose this project because of concerns about the environmental impact of coal use and industrialization. Prepare a STS analysis of the Mayagüez area. Can you identify any potential value mismatches between this system and the cogeneration plant your company is planning? How can these mismatches be mitigated or eliminated?
  • Your company, Southern Gold Resources, wants to mine different regions in central Puerto Rico for copper and gold. But you know that twenty years earlier, two proposals by two international mining companies were turned down by the Puerto Rican government due to strong local opposition. Carry out a socio-technical system that concentrates on the financial, social, and environmental impact of a smaller scale mining project. How would you address the opposition to the older mining proposals should they also arise in relation to yours? What does your STS analysis tell you about social and ethical impacts, financial potential, and possible grass roots opposition? Are profitable mining operations compatible with the community and environmental values? What is your recommendation based on your STS analysis?
  • Windmar, a company that manufactures and operates windmills for electricity generation has proposed to build a windmill farm adjacent to the Bosque Seco de Guanica. They have encountered considerable local opposition which stems from three concerns: (1) Given that Windmar is a private business, can it be trusted to carry out its project as proposed? Can any private business be trusted to “keep its word.” (2) Will locating the windmill farm so close to the Bosque Seco de Guanica have a harmful impact on the fragile ecosystem and its non-human inhabitants? (3) Why were public hearings on the project held so far away from the very communities who would most likely suffer its impacts? Windmill technology has traditionally been considered one of the cleanest ways to generate electricity. But this doesn’t mean that it represents a harm-free technology. How can windmills harm the environment? How can their construction and operation harm the communities in which they are housed? Carry out a socio-technical system analysis to understand and clarify this opposition. Can the concerns of local stakeholders be integrated with a profitable, privately owned and operated windmill farm? How should the windmill project be modified to improve the chances of its being implemented?
  • Assume that the Puerto Rico government has decided to give a laptop computer to every public school student. What would happen? What would be the benefits? What would be the harms? Construct a socio-technical analysis of the Puerto Rico public school system and study the impact of the laptop project on this system. Are there any mismatches between the values embedded in laptops technology and this STS? Would the laptop project be feasible? (What constraints are likely to make integration difficult?) Would it be necessary to redesign laptop computers to make this technology more responsive to the special needs of children? What changes or adjustments would need to be made in the Puerto Rico public school STS?

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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