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P202


Towards the 'digital good'? 
Convenors:
Ros Williams (University of Sheffield)
Gina Neff (University of Cambridge)
Helen Kennedy (University of Sheffield)
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Format :
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

As STS scholarship evidences, digital technologies are not always good for societies. However, there has been increasing appetite to delve into how digital technology might do social ‘good’. As part of the UK-based ESRC Digital Good Network, we invite interventions opening up questions of the good.

Long Abstract:

As STS scholarship has repeatedly evidenced, digital technologies are not always good for societies, even though they are often framed in public discourse as panacea, salve or fix. Increasingly, however, there has been an appetite to delve into how digital technology might do social ‘good’. A range of speculative and design methodologies, many of which require disciplinary traversal beyond the social sciences and humanities, are being deployed to generate ideas of what constitutes the ‘good’, for whom, and how digital technologies might be part of the endeavour to bring the good into being.

An orientation toward the idea of good is, of course, to take a normative stance. It invites us to imagine ‘the digital good’ in its multiple potential ways. To ensure that digital technologies have good outcomes for people and societies (indeed, to discern what a ‘good outcome’ might even be) we need to turn our attention to what the digital good should look like and how it can be achieved. Whilst the many potentials for harm should be borne in mind and taken seriously, this turn requires us to move (our critical senses intact) towards imagining futures and their attendant digital technologies.

As part of the UK-based ESRC Digital Good Network, which comprises an interdisciplinary mix of scholars from across STS, psychology, computer science, design, and critical media, we invite interventions that seek to open up the question of the good. We are keen to learn from contributions that reveal the challenges and possibilities of cross-disciplinary thinking in this area; that are interested in “what should be” rather than "what shouldn’t be”; that centre ideas of social equity, sustainability, resilience/wellbeing; that are open to generative, future-focused enquiry into what ‘the good’ is, as well as how digital technology might be employed to move us closer toward it