The Social Sciences in Technology


Why are the social sciences an important part of technology development? Our human social, economic, and political systems are webbed together by technology, with us in the center. Businesses go off of gut belief in product use for a specific consumer segment. But what if they could have real scientific numbers to make their product decisions off of? So, knowing the cultural need for a mobile device in China is important before creating the device. Digital ethnographic research done by anthropologists study this. Knowing a rural community’s view on free wireless broadband is important before spending government dollars on installation and implementation. Digital ethnographic research done by psychologists study this. Knowing developmental and cognitive theory as it relates to teenagers and their needs wants for social networking applications is important before creating your startup. Digital ethnographic research done by psychologists study this.

Pictures of other cultures using technology; technology as global phenomenon. But some tech uses fit better in some cultures, population segments than others? Kids use MySpace v Facebook v Bebo, why? What are they looking for? Possibly also David Hasselhoff in a banana hammock.

Sharon Greenfield


After over 10 years of time spent in the tech industry as mostly an Interactive Producer, I went back to school to study Psychology. I am personally interested in how people and technology interact and the ethnographic research that goes into finding said information. I am currently a part of the People and Practices Research group at Intel, and am on the Executive Board of the Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon.