Over the past quarter century, digital technologies have become signature change agents in all aspects of our domestic, working and public lives. Whether it is our awareness of the world through the media, formal or informal learning, shopping, banking, travelling or communicating, digital technologies are everywhere. The hardware is getting less expensive relative to the power of the technology. Meanwhile, a battle is being fought in the domain of intellectual property between software that is proprietary and sometimes closed, and software that is open and sometimes free.

How do we understand and evaluate the workings of these technologies? To answer this question we need to recruit the disciplines of computer science, software engineering, communications systems and applied linguistics. We need to develop and apply the conceptual tools of cybernetics, informatics, systemics and the theory of distributed networks. And how do we understand their effects? Here we might consider the impact of the new media, intelligent systems or human-machine interfaces.

Technologies for Human Use 

  • Technology, knowledge and society: re-examining the connections. 
  • Human-technology interaction, interfaces and useability. 
  • Cybernetics, informatics, systemics and distributed networks.
  • New media, new communications channels
  • Open computing
  • Data and metadata: meanings, boundaries, functions.
  • Open standards and the logistics of communicability and interoperability.
  • Structure and semantics in information.
  • The Semantic Web. 
  • Artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, intelligent agents. 
  • Technology in the service of the 'knowledge society'

The world is moving into a phase that is widely, and perhaps too glibly at times, referred to as a 'knowledge economy' or 'knowledge society'. Information and communications technologies, and their human effects, play a central part in this development.These digital technologies allow new, bottom-up structures of knowledge to emerge, building from the collaborative endeavours of knowledge creating communities-such as workplaces, schools and associations of common interest. In each case, they provide the means by which personal knowledge can be shared and transformed into common knowledge. From being receptors of knowledge, persons, organisations and communities become makers and publishers of knowledge, reversing at least in part the fundamental epistemic flows of modernity and replacing this with a new 'dialogics' of knowledge.