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Human/Technology Agents and Actors

September 26, 2009

OK, so a couple of the concepts that are key to understanding – and that came up in a cross-faculty discussion at UWE t’other day – was the idea of where you can draw the line between the human and the technological. With people from a more computer-science background, they might see something like media as more the technology, whereas the cultural studies person is seeing the human.  Personally I see it as akin to where the Amazon meets the sea – the concepts are both made from much of the same material (or theory) and come from the same source (water) – we can still see where one ends and the other begins – if we feel the need to – yet for most of us, journeying on that route, we would not feel anything in crossing the boundary.  This is a complex way of saying – it complex and yet simple…

day10 - amazon meets the sea

To assist in framing this, I am using a number of concepts in my work;

Actor – Taking this from Actor-Network Theory, Latour remarks that it is not so much as a term referring to a source of action, but that which is enacted upon, thus playing a role – much like an actor on the stage. So actors are those entities that play a role within a network to help it become what it is.

Agent – An entity that is capable of having a more independent role than an Actor, is something that can enact it’s own decisions – it is said to have Agency; Agency is a concept used in philosophy and sociology to refer to the capacity of an agent to act in a world.

Got it?  God ‘cos I’m not sure I have…

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