05+Path+Dependence

05+Path+Dependence - SOSC111 Science, Technology &...

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SOSC111 Lecture 5 Path Dependence and Socio-Technical Networks
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Technologies are not isolated things Technologies are not isolated artifacts. They form interlocking networks of artifacts and knowledge.
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We say that technologies are “embedded” Technologies are thus embedded within particular material and knowledge networks There appears to be a logic to the path of technological development When technologies appear to develop on their own, we call it technological momentum Cannot be stopped?
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Path Dependence Another result of interdependence is that technological decisions will limit future options . Given limited resources and inflexible social systems, society is often tied to going down a specific technological path. This is called path dependence .
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Time Artifact A OR Artifact B
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Time Artifact C Artifact A Artifact D OR OR Artifact E Artifact B Artifact F
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Time Artifact C Artifact A Artifact D OR OR Artifact E Artifact B Artifact F
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Time Artifact C Artifact A Artifact D OR OR Artifact E Artifact B Artifact F
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Artifact A Knowledge A Artifact B Knowledge B
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Artifact A-1 Artifact A Knowledge A Knowledge A Artifact A-2 OR Knowledge A Artifact B Artifact B-1 Knowledge B Knowledge B Etc.
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Artifact A-1 Artifact A Knowledge A Knowledge A Artifact A-2 OR Knowledge A Artifact B Artifact B-1 Knowledge B Knowledge B Etc.
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Artifact A-1 Knowledge A Artifact A-2 Knowledge A Artifact A-X Knowledge B
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Our Computer Keyboards Another interesting story about path dependence is the QWERTY keyboard It has the same set of keys – in the same pattern – as those of old- fashioned typewriters Why?
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QWERTY When originally developed, the QWERTY arrangement was an optimal match between human speed and the maximum speed that a typewriter could operate without jamming.
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In the following decades, typewriter mechanisms improved, and new key and faster key arrangements were also proposed. Artifact (Typewriter) Technique (QWERTY) Artifact (QWERTY) Technique (QWERTY) Artifact (Other type of typewriter) Technique (Scientific keyboard)
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The QWERTY technique, however, had become a standard technique. Its dominance prevented the acceptance of faster typing systems. Artifact = Typewriter Technique (QWERTY) Artifact (QWERTY) Technique (QWERTY) Other Possible Artifact Technique Scientific Keyboard
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Path Dependence for Videos In 1976, two competing technologies for videotapes were available: SONY’s Betamax (launched 1975 ) Matsushita’s VHS (launched 1976 ) At the time, Betamax represented a “better quality ” recording/playback technology, but could only record 1 hour of NTSC video VHS had lower quality playback, but could record 2 hours of NTSC video, which would be sufficient for a typical movie After some time SONY also launched Betamax tapes that could play for 2 hours
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VHS Won the Video War… Because the two standards were incompatible , people had to chose one
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05+Path+Dependence - SOSC111 Science, Technology &...

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