Critical analysis of interactive media with software affordances

Matthew X. Curinga


There is a long standing, and unsettled debate surrounding the ways that technology influences society. There is strong scholarship supporting the social construction perspective, arguing that the effects of technology are wholly socially and politically determined. This paper argues that the social constructivist position needs to be expanded if it can be useful for more than observing the ways technologies are designed and used. We need to develop better ways to talk about software, computer hardware, and networks, so that we can describe the social interpretations of these systems while accounting for their unique characteristics. We suggest using software affordances as a way to understand the semantics of software as interactive systems. Using Facebook privacy concerns as a case study, we argue that software affordances offer a useful lens for considering the social and political implications of interactive software systems, providing us more analytical tools to interpret, and not just describe, new technologies.


social media, software affordances, social constructivism, software studies, Facebook, human computer interaction

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