Whose technology for whose development?
An interesting question raised by STS researchers in recent years was: who should legitimately participate in technical decision-making? The solution to scientific and technical controversies rests mostly on judgements by experts and these judgements depend on the context, the environment and, thus, also the location of expertise rather than on any formal scientific method. How open this technical decision-making should, or should not be, is even called by Collins and Evans “the pressing intellectual problem of the age” (2002:237). Similarly, Cozzens et al. (2008) suggest that by treating different forms of knowledge symmetrically, instead of valuing “professional knowledge” from the global North higher than local knowledge from the global South, an STS perspective helps draw attention to the asymmetries of power in decision making, which have been particularly strong with regard to technology transfer. Postcolonial Computing looks at the consequences of technology design, technology transfer and “international development” by combining an STS perspective with Postcolonial Theory.
Melanie Stilz is Research Associate at Technische Universität Berlin, Institut für Berufliche Bildung und Arbeitslehre.