Do smartphones shape people's purchase decisions?

A topic of perennial interest in technology studies is how technology shapes the way people think.  It is clear that the way people think affects technology, as in the example of how gender is encoded in architecture, recently noted in this blog.

Transparency and legitimacy in Ontario elections using e-voting

Many Ontario municipalities are currently involved in debates over the adoption of e-voting.  I recently wrote a report that I submitted to the City Council of Guelph (where I live) urging against its adoption here.  I also delegated to the Council on this issue (24 April).  Since other speakers were covering matters such as security and accessibility, I decided to use my five minutes to raise the issue of transparency. 

The Netherlands reverts to counting paper ballots by hand

A piece by Sewell Chan in the New York Times notes that Dutch authorities have pulled the plug on computerized ballots and ballot counting for their next national election.

The move was prompted by concerns over the integrity of the election in the face of hacking concerns. In particular, allegations of tampering in the recent US election have caused the Dutch government to re-examine their setup, which was found wanting:

AI, you and your work

The adoption of computers has profoundly impacted work.  It gave rise to a new class of laborer, e.g., the "knowlege worker". It  also replaced certain kinds of work, e.g., through automation.  Trade-offs of this type are a normal result of technological changes.

Currently, artificial intelligence is assuming a greater role in work.  Three recent article illustrate this trend and the sorts of trade-offs that come with it.

Fake news, hoaxes, lies, misinformation, and errors

Will Oremus at Slate has written an interesting piece on the semantic spread of the term "fake news."  The term recently came to prominence over the propagation of fraudulent news items as a tool of persuasion in the recent US election.

Facebook, misinformation and censorship

Three recent New York Times articles illustrate some issues facing information providers like Facebook when it comes to dealing with potentially harmful content being shared through its service.

AI, discovery, and censorship

My news feed put up an interesting pair of articles about applications of AI to what might be called knowledge discovery.

The first was an article by Adrienne Lafrance about the search for another Antikythera mechanism.  The Antikythera mechanism is an astronomical computer made in Hellenistic Greek times and found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera in 1901.

Bringing back US manufacturing work?

One of the promises driving support for Donald Trump in the recent U.S. election was his promise to bring back manufacturing work.  Many Americans have seen their industrial jobs disappear without much prospect of return.  They and Trump blame globalization for moving these jobs overseas.  Thus, changes in trade policy are touted to bring them back.

Digital Dependencies: How we upload and offload ourselves

A panel discussion by three UWaterloo professors is set to take place that would be of interest to readers of this blog.  The speakers and topics are as follows:

Aimée Morrison (English) 

Loneliness and social media: What does it mean, and not mean, to have ‘Friends’ online?

Should people be made to do without their smartphones sometimes?

An interesting article by Alice Hopton on CBC news discusses when people might be required to do without their smartphones.

The article describes Yondr, a small pouch in which smartphones may be locked during concerts, classes, and other social gatherings.  Yondr's inventor, Graham Dugoni, argues that some people's habit of recording concerts, rather than just experiencing them unfiltered, undermines the point of such events, which is:

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