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STS NEXUS Editor's Overview
Eric D. Carlson
It is fitting that the inaugural issue of STS NEXUS has the theme of The Networked Society. All the articles in this issue relate to the connection of technological changes, such as electronic networks, to changes in society, such as productivity, family life, organizational innovation, and new forms of commerce. These articles illustrate the multi-disciplinary approach that characterizes the work of the Santa Clara University Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS), and demonstrates its commitment to deal with significant, timely issues. While the articles are ordered from the more general to the more specific, it is not necessary to read this issue sequentially. I think you will find that each of the articles is informative and self-contained.
Leading off the issue, CSTS Director Jim Koch and CSTS Advisory Board Chairman Regis McKenna, describe the origins and mission of CSTS in Where Technology and Tradition Meet. The article illustrates how CSTS is connecting tradition with innovation and connecting humanism with technology, in a unique time, in a unique place, with a unique approach.
Last May, Manuel Castells, professor of sociology and of city and regional planning at the University of California at Berkeley, gave an exciting colloquium at CSTS on The Networked Society.? Professor Castells is internationally recognized for his astute observations and analyses regarding the relationships between technological change and societal change. His article, Dimensions of the Networked Society, is an edited transcript of his CSTS colloquium. It presents Professor Castells observations on the inter-relationships among the revolution in information technology, particularly electronic networks, with societal changes in the economy, in the nature of work, in mass communications, and in politics.
Faculty from Santa Clara University author the next three articles, each of which deals with a specific aspect of the Networked Society. In Sources of Productivity Advances in the Twentieth Century, Economics Professor Alexander Field gives a historical perspective on the relationship between technological change and productivity. You may be surprised by his observations on productivity growth during the information technology revolution compared to that of the mid-twentieth century. Our next article, The Family and the Networked Society by Communication Professor Christine Bachen, summarizes recent research on the impacts of electronic networks on American families. While the research she describes is still largely observational, it indicates that networking technologies change, and may even enhance, the ways families communicate. Finally, Professor John Ratliff from the Department of Sociology provides a fascinating article on NTT DoCoMo and its I-mode Wireless Network. This article gives a view of the future (wireless) networked society, presents an analysis of the inter-relationship between organizational innovation and technological innovation at NTT DoCoMo, and describes the resulting impacts on wireless communications and e-commerce.
On the last pages of this issue we list the major events that CSTS has sponsored since its inception. More detail on these events is available at http://www.scu.edu/sts. We also list our upcoming events for the spring. One of these, our sesquicentennial conference, Technology and Us: A Vision of the Future, promises to be a significant event. The sessions at this conference will provide the content for the next STS NEXUS.