Syntegration Topic (Return to List of Topics)


Topic ICTs and Co-evolution in Society
Participants | Rebecca Herron | Chris Atkinson | Clive Holtham | Eve Mitleton-Kelly | Clas-Otto Wene |
Critics | Consuelo Davila | Pete Barnsley | German Bula | Bob Malcolm | John Mingers |

Meeting 1 NotesMeeting 2 Notes

Meeting 3 Notes

Outcome Resolve

Co-ordinator = Clive Holtham

Date: 10 July Time: 16:30 to 17:30 Facilitators: Toni & Jennifer


  • It seems a good idea to write a case study based on non-invasive surgery, but we need to take a critical appraisal to it.
  • In order to inform practice (i.e., perspective) we need to write down a story from different perspectives. To give a convincing argument, this story should unfold through the people themselves telling their stories. We need also to interview people at different "levels" in order to capture multiples perspectives.
  • The idea is to obtain some description of co-evolution from different perspectives. What does co-evolution mean? We shall use a case-story to achieve the goals, to obtain a simple representation of co-evolution.
  • Notice that technology provides alternative ways to evolution but to which extent can we say that technologies developed us? Is the development of democracy technology based? Is education facilitated through technology? Is not any case of social evolution driven or explained through a technological improvement? If this is the case, then we are pointing to a sort of technology determinism; in other words, technology drives society.
  • We are still not sure of using "co" in co-evolution or just talk about evolution as the main topic of this group. This will be, hopefully determined later on during the development of the project proposed here.
  • Can we find some technological drivers to evolution like in the first industrial revolution? In any case, we have to be careful about looking for social co-evolution, which could possibly be a non-existent element.


  • If we accept that there is not only one reality but also many, how can you catch it from different perspectives? To what extension your case study can be generalised? How much is applicable only to a particular situation? How much could be applied to other situations? Transferability and degree of transferability are key issues here.
  • If you want to be objective, how would you develop your case study in an objective way?
  • Perhaps it will be necessary to analyse different classes of co-evolution systems. So you may need to reformulate the outcome resolve of the 2nd meeting.
  • Notice that you have not defined yet what is "of a desirable nature" or what is a "desirable world" and nobody has yet defined what are ICTs either.


  • We need to consider some key points in developing the case study. Some of them are: transferability of the findings; be sure of developing an understanding of not only how technology developed but also how society evolved simultaneously; is the case applicable to other high technologies? It has to addresses the influence of suppliers and developers of technology; it is demand driven? Is there a relationship between the emergent technologies and a culture of experimentation?
  • Notice that there are not many examples of this co-evolution in the present literature. There must be an economical explanation for co-evolution.
  • We may need to direct the discussion into different areas, not only hospitals and NHS websites. Perhaps we need to look at architecture examples.
  • However, it seems that desirability is easier to judge in NHS than in Arts. But, then who's the client and whose behalf are we working for? It is difficult to connect the desires of the community with the practices of the practitioner.
  • If in our case study we want different perspectives in the narrative, this involves, perhaps, using different systemic methodologies or different points of view or both.
  • We need to write about what co-evolution means and see if there is any evolution of society without technological advances.
  • In any case, it is important to study the evolution of technology, the evolution of society and the relation between them. This implies to include, in the case study, the economical and political forces involved in ICTs development.