Saturday, 10 September 2011

Welcome to The Social Interface

The Editors

Our experience of the world is mediated through technology. Technology affects our access to and analysis of information, the extent to which we are monitored, the composition of the air, the people with whom we connect and the length of our lives, among other things. Decisions about technical design made by engineers, scientists and managers as well as decisions by politicians about funding and regulation shape our technological landscape. The Internet is a good example – it began as a project of the US government but decisions about its design came from engineers. The fact that the Internet allows for open communication, as well as the fact that it is possible for marketers to collect data about users, are both the result of design decisions, whether conscious or unconscious. The choices made by engineers and governments matter.

In the academic world, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, lawyers and others have written extensively on the relationship between technology and society. This blog aims to connect those thinking and writing about technology with those who design it and those who use it.

Contributors to the blog will be professionals and academics from a range of relevant fields, including engineering, law, science, medicine, development, social sciences and the arts, who will be invited to stimulate discussion on the social impacts of technology as observed through the lenses of their own fields. We encourage you to be an active participant in the conversation, using the comments section beneath each featured contribution. How does the subject matter impact your own field? What are the key questions, problems and solutions as viewed through the prism of your experience or practice? Perhaps you agree with the contributor in question, or perhaps you vehemently disagree. Either way, you are encouraged to engage in the debate.

Who are we? Lyria, an academic in the law faculty at UNSW, is interested in the relationship between technology and law, and how changes in each influence the other. Sarah, an intellectual property lawyer, is interested in how protection of intellectual capital and provision of access to technology impact social mobility and human development. This blog was born out of our mutual realisation that, as lawyers interested in the social implications of technology, we have few opportunities to share ideas with the engineers, scientists, medical practitioners, historians, philosophers and many other breeds of professionals and academics who daily engage in consideration of the same. We aim to connect thinkers and writers from all relevant fields, as well as the broader community, and to provide meaningful opportunities for knowledge sharing, collaboration and debate between them.

If you are interested in making a featured contribution, let us know at If you want to receive the blog in your inbox, subscribe by entering your email address in the box to the right (we will not use your details for any other purpose). If you have a question, comment or counter-argument to one of the contributions on the site, leave your thoughts in the comments section provided beneath the post.

We trust that this blog will entertain you, inspire you and, most of all, make you think.

Welcome to The Social Interface.

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