Monday, January 08, 2007

The Most Volatile Technology: The User

Thank you for the introduction and for including me in this project.

Perhaps the first steps in generating a successful broader theory of technology and law include identifying defining characteristics of such a theory. One of these defining characteristics is the ability of the theory to co-evolve with the particular incarnations of technologies we seek to govern. Therefore, a successful theory of technology and law will possess an emergent quality; it will develop in response to the interactions of technologies with the humans who use them.

In this way, any successful theory of technology and law is inextricably bound up with human development. Our assumptions in law about human development and how humans interact with technology are, however, rarely closely assessed. Legislative approaches are usually compartmentalized around a particular technology at issue or a particular legal idea, and rarely does technology legislation discuss users’ perceptions or development as its primary focus. The dominant human development paradigm adopted by technology regulation is one which, by default, presumes that users are a one-dimensional, linear, stagnant piece of the regulatory picture.

Although this assumption about linear human development is based in early developmental psychology theory, it is an approach not informed by later bodies of human development theory. Later developmental psychology is better suited to inform regulation of technology-mediated interactions. Nonlinear developmental theory better contemplates the emergent learning and behaviors in which users participate through technology than do traditional linear paradigms.
By inserting the dynamic nature of users and their development into the technology regulation picture, we begin to generate law that approaches the levels of complexity that actually exist in technology-mediated social systems. The remaining posts during this week will examine the work of nonlinear developmental psychologists and its lessons for technology regulation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look forward to the posts--it's true, the reception of a technology, idea, or form of expression is very dependent on the nature of the audience/subject/user.

1/09/2007 8:15 AM  

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