[Master Thesis] Man Versus Platform Versus Designer. How New Media Technology and Design Steer Behavior.
Users of a new media technology often feel empowered and in total control of the platform or device they are operating. But is this really the case or is this a mere feeling? Are users fully controlling the technology and its design or is this just perceived and is the agency of the technology and its design generally being overlooked? This paper questions users’ perceived agency by looking at how the technology itself and its design are possibly influencing, or even steering, its users’ behavior. Using theories focused on technological and societal agency, questions of control, premediation, design, gamification, commercial goals and distribution of agency this paper aims to get a better understanding of the complex reality of the process of steering behavior. Based on these theories this thesis will analyze how the agency between the user, the technology and the designer is distributed, and how the steering works through, the case studies Apple Maps, Foursquare and Google Glass. It can be expected that the agency in the process of steering behavior is not distributed symmetrically between users, technology and design and that the process of steering differs between objects. This paper will also stress the need for more knowledge among users about this process in order to be able to make a well substantiated choice whether to use a certain technology or not, because if it is true that technology and design are not only empowering users but also able to steer human behavior, users should be able to critically evaluate whether using a certain technology is worth it.
Keywords: Technological Determinism; Sociological Constructivism; Users; Technology; Design; Distributed Agency; Steering Behavior; Data; Platform Studies; Cybernetics; Affordances; Constraints; Apple Maps; Foursquare; Google Glass
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Scheffers, Ineke. Man Versus Platform Versus Designer. How New Media Technology and Design Steer Behavior.Master Thesis University of Amsterdam, 2013.
Scheffers, Ineke. ‘You Can’t Squeeze Blood From a Stone. Why ACTA Isn’t Beneficial for the Media Industry Either.’ Bachelor Thesis University of Amsterdam, 2012.
This paper argues that while, the Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement is certainly not beneficial for the downloading and peer-to-peer sharing public, it isn’t necessarily beneficial for the mainstream media industry either. The main reasons for the mainstream media industry to support ACTA is to protect intellectual property rights and profits. This thesis, however, shows that the media industry should reconsider ACTA, because this law could possibly harm their profits by forbidding piracy and thus peer-to-peer sharing and thereby eliminate important promotion. It is even argued that dropping ACTA could create new possibilities to generate extra profits.
Beyond these theses I wrote countless other research papers and essays about television, film, gender and new media topics. Interested? Just ask!