Discuss about the Actor Network Theory for Flattening Consumption Studies.
As opined by Sayes (2014) actor network theory can be described as the analysis of the interactions between the system and the end users. In most cases the end users are the human. The interaction between the two (i.e. the system and the human user) in the network have a crucial role in achieving the desired objectives. This essay represents the relevance of the actor network theory in the computing.
This essay focuses on the analysis of two computing stories, the different actants in those stories. These two stories are different in the aspects of computing, their benefits and issues. Also the use of the actants in enhancing the management functionalities in the organization or network is also discussed here. Moreover the advantages and the disadvantages of contemporary computing are also discussed in this essay.
The concept of ANT and its relevance of it in studying computing
The concept of the actor network theory is about understanding the effect of the actor’s action (either human or non human actant) on the network. Although the idea of ANT is not that oblivious as the words in the phrase means. Instead the meaning or the interpretation of the theory is simple (Horowitz, 2012). The theory can be interpreted as the effect of the actor on the network as well as the effect or the influence of the network on the actant. Every time the actions of the actant are affected by the wide range of surrounding factors (Sayes, 2014). The ANT theory helps in linking the technical as well as the non technical actants in the processes or computing. It helps in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the different management functionalities (Latour, 1996). As an example it can be said that when a user is using the word processer then this action of the user is influenced or affected by the user’s prior experience of using it.
Figure1: Different attributes of actor-network theory
(Source: Latour, 1996, pp-376)
Computing story 1: iris scan to replace the fingerprint method
Recently the investigating agency FBI (Federal Bureau of investigation) has scanned the irises of nearly, 460,000 people as a part of a pilot project. This pilot project is aimed to remove the method of fingerprints to ensure the accurate determination of the identity of a person. Although the technology is in existence for almost last 25 years but it was not used in this purpose. Now, being a bug free, fast and easy process it is going to be used in the personal identification process. The Iris scanning process is also going to replace the retinal scan process which is considered as uncomfortable for the people (livescience.com, 2016). According to this technology, it captures pictures from a live pictorial or video feed and searches inside the central database to find a possible match. At first it captures the image then it segments the iris region of the eye area. After this, a specific algorithm is used so that the different information about the iris is obtained and compared to the available information in the database. This can help in the identification of the criminals and to control the access of people in the restricted areas.
Figure 2: process of scanning the iris
(Source: livescience.com, 2016)
Identification of actants
In this story the algorithm used for obtaining the different information about the iris acts as a digital actant. The software or the hardware like the camera used in this process, acts as the software actant (Sayes, 2014). The human are also works as the actants in this process, since the image of the human eye or the iris acts as the main component in the total processes (Er, Pollack and Sankaran, 2013). The interrelation and connection between the processes are important for the success of the whole processes.
Enhanced management by using the iris scanning process
As the iris also has the unique structure like the fingerprints, then it is possible to detect the difference between the two persons using the iris related information. The twins too do not have the same patterns in their iris. There are different aspects like the coronas, furrows and the stripes are different for each and every person (Sayes, 2014). Also the structure of the iris remains same and stable for a person’s lifetime. Therefore the use of iris pattern in identification of individuals can be reliable. Again as the iris is an external organ and extremely visible then it becomes non-invasive (Horowitz, 2012). For this reason the iris recognition becomes more reliable than the other identification technique.
Computing story 2: The atomic memory device: The better storage option
The researchers of the Delft University of Technology, has developed a new atomic memory device that can encode data atom by atom (livescience.com, 2016). This can help the users to store almost hundred times more data than the present storage devices can store. This helps in the storing the huge amount of data (Bajde, 2013). Since in today’s world, from a individual to the business organizations are generating a huge amount of data which needs to be stored for the future use (Bueger, 2013). The new devices developed by researchers can store up to 500 trillion bits of data per square inch. This amount of storage capacity is almost 500 times more than the current best performing storage devices. The new device represents each bit in two probable locations on a copper plane; a chlorine atom can move backward and forward between these two positions. This replacement of the chlorine atom helps in the storage of 0 and 1 on the copper plane. When the chlorine atom is on its top position, then there is a hole under this atom. This position is suitable for storing 1. On the other hand if the hole is in upper position and the chlorine atom is in lower position then that is suitable for storing the 0 bit. These bits are separated by the rows of other chlorine atoms. The atoms are organized into 127 blocks of 64 bits, and each of the blocks is labeled with marker of holes. Till now the reading process of a block takes about one minute and writing takes about two minutes (Horowitz, 2012). However the researchers are working on the methods to speed up the reading and writing processes.
Figure3: Structure of the atomic memory device
(Source: Horn 2013, pp-229)
Identification of actants
In the above story the storage device is the technical actant. In the present world the storage devices are a necessary part of the computing. The more the capacity is the more efficient management of the different processes or tasks will be (Er, Pollack and Sankaran, 2013). Therefore the new storage devices are capable of providing much more storage space with lesser physical size of the device.
In today’s world the individuals as well as the organization needs much more storage space device that needs lesser setup cost and less physical area for the installation. These new technology can cop up with this requirements of the users and help in storing large amount of data in a smaller device (Horowitz, 2012). This enhances the usability of the storage devices with lesser setup cost and minimum required physical area. Being small in the size, these devices will easy to carry anywhere and to get the required data.
Pros and Cons of the Contemporary Computing
As the computing technologies are getting more and more developed every day, there are some benefits and problems are also noticed related to these technologies. In both the computing stories stated above, the advancement helped the users to have increased access, communication and security; at the same time it causes lesser privacy for the users (Bueger, 2013). Moreover, the risks of losing jobs, technical faults are increased due to the use of these technologies. Therefore it is advice to co-relate the human and nonhuman activities to maintain the sustainability in the computing world.
In both the computing stories stated above it can be said that the actor network theory had played a significant role. The key concepts of the networks, actants and the effect of one actant on another are significant for the implementation of these technologies. Use of the iris scanning process for identifying individuals has increased the reliability of the identification process. These kinds of approaches are crucial for the security of the organizations and identifying the criminals in disguise. On the other hand the atomic storage device helped the users to have more storage space while the device consumes much lesser physical area to establish than the current devices. But since this technology are in initial stage and the read, write speeds are slower, and the researchers are working on this to increase the speeds. Therefore the development of these technologies will end up in providing much more efficiency to its users. After the analysis of the above two stories it can be stated that the use of the actor network theory have huge impact on the use of thee technologies. Moreover, it can help the users of these technologies to understand the effect of the different actants over the network channel.
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