The ambivalence of engaging technology: artifacts as products and processes
(Conference paper, 2009)
Abstract:In this paper, I will discuss several cases in order to explore how technological artifacts engage and are
engaged in larger sociotechnical arrangements. I will show how they inscribe a certain relationship between users and designers and a certain level of engagement. At the same time, I intend to show how these relationship and levels of engagement are not intrinsic characters of artifacts per se but rather they are effects that are produced and reproduced within socio-technical assemblages. In this sense, different artifacts entangled within different socio-technical assemblages afford different levels of engagement and different instances of a user/designer relationship. The contribution of this work is to show that we are witnessing the emergence of an ambivalence of engaging technology, as some recent innovative ICT artifacts seems to be better understood as open-ended processes rather that fixed products or
services with important consequences for our understanding of the user/designer relationship.