New technologies at work

Christina Garsten and Helena Wulff (eds), New Technologies at Work: People, Screens and Social Virtuality, Berg Publishers, 2003

See the full review at the RCCS website.


New Technologies at Work: People, Screens and Social Virtuality, edited by Christina Garsten and Helena Wulff, is a set of ethnographies, and as such it is no surprise that the authors aim to bring people, place, and social interactions to the forefront in their discussion of technology. Computers and the internet are treated as objects in a world still bound by geography and sociality. Computers are objects bought and sold; technology and its application are subject to rhetoric and false expectations; people integrate the virtual into their lives with surprisingly little fuss.

The chapters in this volume cover an impressive range of both subject matter and technology discourse. Reading about dancers, stockbrokers, and hospital porters side-by-side is not only fascinating, but also frames technology discourse in a broader context than the white-collar environment it is often implicitly limited to.

The contributions provide interesting, detailed insight into people's actual experiences with technology and debunk some of the more extreme utopian and dystopian rhetoric around computers and the internet. The authors remind us that technology may help or hinder people in navigating their lives, but it won't uproot their social and physical nature.

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