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51. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Richard Bartle Presence and Flow: Ill-Fitting Clothes for Virtual Worlds
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Virtual worlds are a class of computer game in which large numbers of players access a shared environment simultaneously to have fun. What “having fun” means, however, is not obvious. Players talk about immersion, which suggests to some commentators that their fun may derive from the well-known psychological concepts of presence and flow. However, although these states of mind are indeed important factors in immersion, they do not capture what players themselves understand by the term. To describe fully what players are experiencing requires an examination of identity exploration – an exploration which strongly echoes the structure of ancient myth.
52. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Richard Coyne Thinking through Virtual Reality: Place, Non-Place and Situated Cognition
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Critics and researchers apply various criteria to evaluate the efficacy of VR, including the conformity of VR environments to the character of place. I wish to add a further test: do VR environments enable thought? The paper thus applies to VR the controversial proposition advanced by Clark and others that thinking, i.e. human cognitive processes, are situated and spatial. As a further term in this mix I introduce the concept of non-place, as elucidated by Augé and propose that non-places can be characterized as unthinking spaces, i.e. spaces that provide little assistance to the thought processes of their occupants. Perhaps non-places only offer thepossibilities afforded by a kind of cognitively impoverished instrumentalism. The conclusion from these propositions is that it is instructive to couch the problematics of VR environments in terms of non-places that do not easily accommodate thought, or thoughtful interaction, were it not that thought thrives on transitions, thresholds and boundary conditions between the strange and the familiar.
53. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 3
Erik Champion When Windmills Turn Into Giants: The Conundrum of Virtual Places
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While many papers may claim that virtual environments have much to gain from architectural and urban planning theory, few seem to specify in any verifiable or falsifiable way, how notions of place and interaction are best combined and developed for specific needs. The following is an attempt to summarize a theory of place for virtual environments and explain both the shortcomings and the advantages of this theory.
54. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Bernadette Bensuade-Vincent, Xavier Guchet Nanomachine: One Word For Three Different Paradigms
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Scientists and engineers who extensively use the term “nanomachine” are not always aware of the philosophical implications of this term. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of nanomachine through a distinction between three major paradigms of machine. After a brief presentation of two well-known paradigms - Cartesian mechanistic machines and Von Neumann’s complex and uncontrolled machines – we will argue that Drexler’s model was mainly Cartesian. But what about the model of his critics? We propose a third model - Gilbert Simondon’s notion of concrete machines – which seems more appropriate to understand nanomachines than the notion of “soft machines”. Finally we review a few strategies currently used to design nanomachines, in an effort to determine which paradigm they belong to.
55. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Peter Krebs Virtual Models and Simulations: A Different Kind of Science?
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The personal computer has become the primary research tool in many scientific and engineering disciplines. The role of the computer has been extended to be an experimental and modelling tool both for convenience and sometimes necessity. In this paper some of the relationships between real models and virtual models, i.e. models that exist only as programs and data structures, areexplored. It is argued that the shift from experimenting with real objects to experimentation with computer models and simulations may also require a new approach for evaluating scientific theories derived from these models. Accepting the additional sets of assumptions that are associated with computer models and simulations requires ‘leaps of faith’, which we may not want to make in order to preserve scientific rigor. There are problems in providing acceptable arguments and explanations as to why a particular computer model or simulation should be judged scientifically sound, plausible, or even probable. These problems not only emerge from models that are particularly complex, but also in models that suffer from being too simplistic.
56. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Joseph C. Pitt, Pieter E. Vermaas, Peter-Paul Verbeek Editorial Statement
57. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Paul Thompson Theorizing Technological and Institutional Change: Alienability, Rivalry and Exclusion Cost
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Formal, informal and material institutions constitute the framework for human interaction and communicative practice. Three ideas from institutional theory are particularly relevant to technical change. Exclusion cost refers to the effort that must be expended to prevent others from usurping or interfering in one’s use or disposal of a given good or resource. Alienability refers to the ability to tangibly extricate a good or resource from one setting, making it available for exchange relations. Rivalry refers to the degree and character of compatibility in various uses for goods. The paper closes with a note on how attention to these factors might be useful ways toconceptualize what Langdon Winner has called “the technological constitution of society,” and what Andrew Feenberg has theorized as “secondary rationalization,” as well as within more practical contexts of technical research, development and design.
58. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Jonas Clausen, John Cantwell Reasoning With Safety Factor Rules
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Safety factor rules are used for drawing putatively reasonable conclusions from incomplete datasets. The paper attempts to provide answers to four questions: “How are safety factors used?”, “When are safety factors used?”, “Why are safety used?” and “How do safety factor rules relate to decision theory?”. The authors conclude that safety factor rules should be regarded as decision methods rather than as criteria of rightness and that they can be used in both practical and theoretical reasoning. Simplicity of application and inability or unwillingness to defer judgment appear to be important factors in explaining why the rules are used.
59. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Philip Brey Theorizing the Cultural Quality of New Media
60. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 11 > Issue: 1
Joseph Reagle, Jr. Bug Tracking Systems as Public Spheres
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Based upon literature that argues technology, and even simple classification systems, embody cultural values, I ask if software bug tracking systems are similarly value laden. I make use of discourse within and around Web browser software development to identify specific discursive values, adopted from Ferree et al.'s "normative criteria for the public sphere," and conclude by arguing that such systems mediate community concerns and are subject to contested interpretations by their users.