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Actor Network Theory: Idea and Concept

Describe about the Computer Science - Actor Network Theory?

In this modern computing society, every actant is dependent and dominated by other actants and their activities are co-related to each other that help to fulfill the aims and objectives of the assemblage (Schreurs et al. 2013). This particular assignment focuses on two recent computing stories through which concept of actor-network theory can be explained in details by categorizing the actors and network. However, sometimes queries of customers become unanswered due to proper customer service support (Mpazanje, Sewchurran and Brown 2013). Therefore, the collaborations of Twitter with the management of Apple Company help to implant proper IT support system that is considered as software actant to serve their twitter account holder customers via online communication methods.

Concepts of actor-network theory deal with human-machine interactions, and this relationship has evolved the advancement of modern computing greatly. The computing stories analyzed with the concepts of ANT and its helps to identify the actors and network system.

While talking about the input, process and output model in actor network theory, information input and resources are considered as the major input parameters. At the same time, planning process and planning output within the organizational context will explore the motivations and actions of actors who form elements, linked by associations.

It has seen that in Actor network theory, both human and nonhuman actors are equally treated. This normally described by the principle of generalized symmetry. Both human as well as non human actors are denoted as actants and they provide the shape towards the network by the virtue of their association (Mpazanje, Sewchurran and Brown 2013).

According to the concept of actor network theory, it demonstrates the interrelation between material and human factors. While human actors represents the material actants, it also explore how these material environment interacts with other actants exists in the network.

Considering the actor network theory, it has seen that there are three broad aspects involved in it: actor world, translation and actor network. The term actor world represents the entities, their role, and respective size. While talking about translation, it has seen that this will consider actor culture, actor structure, Problematization, Interessement, Enrollment, and Mobilization.

: Actor Network Theory

Figure 1: Actor Network Theory

(Source: Ruppert, Law and Savage 2013, p 26)

Computing News Story 1: Fake Profiles over Social Media Platforms

While talking about this computing story, it has become apparent that in this growing technical world, everyone shares everything on the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others. As these events increased day by day, criminal offenses also increased parallel to this. According to Bijker (2012), online platforms are built to develop social and cultural communication, not for these bullshit things. Actor-network theory is also known as sociology of translation or enrollment theory, introduced by Bruno Latour, John Law and Michel Callon in mid-1980s (Bechmann and Lomborg 2013). It is the conceptual framework to explore collective processes by concentrating on the technical and science activities. This theoretical framework is used as guidelines and interpretations of processes to examine the network activities and features.

Input-Process-Output

By analyzing the interactions and interrelationship between the fake profiles in these social media platforms from actor-network theory perspectives, victims are considered as actants, technical security in the social media sites are considered as software actants, and the social media platform is the network (Hughes et al. 2012). Views of different critics and theorists have been adopted to analyze the pros and cons of contemporary computing and Actor Network Theory based debate. However, information and data can be hacked due to the absence of proper security mechanisms.

The social media platforms is a broad network channel and involves some amazing features which can be used on the Facebook. Over Facebook, everyone can create an individual account by providing some basic information such as names, address, date of birth and many other things (Pinch et al. 2012). In order to make own identity people put a picture on their profiles and then make a friends circle with close family members and friends. Also, sometimes people forgot to maintain their privacy and share many confidential things over the internet with unknown persons (Douglas et al. 2012).

The privacy settings of these social media platforms such as firewall web application, encryption, and decryption module are considered as software actants, in this case, is used to the main authenticity of one's identity and his or her personal stuff (Coolhackingtrick.com. 2016). However, the technical actants or software actants mean security settings of the social platform by damaging those and by using some hacking websites such as GETFBHACK.com and the programs of this application, attackers hack the password of the Facebook within one day. They also use Hack Fbook Password, where after entering the id of the victim, the password can be easily traced out (ITV News. 2016). Based on the actor-network theory, these entities are interrelated, and their relationships involve the different actors within a social media platform called as the single network.

By analyzing the two computing stories some of the largest issues have come in front of the modern society. According to their guidelines, whoever will try to make fake profiles harass other people have to face challenges and will be punished seriously under criminal justice, and courts act 2015 (Mpazanje, Sewchurran and Brown 2013). 

The concept of actants is used to quantify the relationships between the human factors and materials of a process. The network is the integration of semiotic environments and materials of the system and conveys the ideas of the actors' influences. By introducing new iPhones on the market, people have so much interest to buy those amazing gadgets. However, as these advanced phones have so much complex features, customers have many problems to operate these devices (AdWeek. 2016). Therefore, it is the responsibility of the apple authorities to serve those customers by answering their queries. Apple is one of the top leading telecommunication industries of this world and has no such physical outlets everywhere (Business Insider. 2016). Therefore, in order to serve customer services, this organization has taken the initiatives to reach to their customers through online platform Twitter. The attackers make fake accounts with false information of the person they want to attack and post embarrassing things on their profiles (The Huffington Post UK. 2016). From some recent cases, it has been come to front those girls' photos or videos are shared on the pornographic sites without their concern (ITV News. 2016). These incidents are the greatest curse of those girls' lives and due to these, some of them also tried to commit suicide.

Acts on Humans

In order to protect oneself from online offenses and crimes, proper use of the technical security applications of social media platforms can help a lot to get harassed or embarrassed on the societal world and over the internet (De Laat et al.2013). The firewall and encryption technique present in the security protocol can filter and block the HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) from web application by controlling its input-output access.

After considering the relationships of apple support and Twitter accounts, Twitter account holders are considered as the actants and the apple support channel is considered as the network. By the use of the Twitter account, registered users can read and send short messages (140 characters) which are also known as tweets, however, unregistered users can use this only to read messages (Venturini 2012).

Apple has made the account on Twitter as @AppleSupport, and their support team responds to the customers' queries by directing the users to the web pages to resolve their issues. This chain support system also reaches to the customers via direct messaging applications (Wired UK. 2016). Apple has enough resources to manage the large volume of customers and their requests over the twitter channel. The IT support system has been considered as software actant where each of its components has owned significances to enhance the managerial functions of the entire network system (AdWeek. 2016). Therefore, authorities of Apple organization use this tool for their customer service, which is a greater benefit for the Twitter account holders (Schreurs et al.2013). Customers also get the tips regarding their new products and services. Most of the queries have come related to the IOS, Apple music store, and Safari browser and by the support of the Twitter account; they answered to the questions very well and obtained greater customer satisfactions.

In the first case, technical security of social media platform has been considered as software actants and theses actants can significantly enhance the managerial functions of computing stories (Ferguson et al. 2013). This firewall web application inspects every data packet inside the network and protects it from various malware and unauthorized access (Buckingham Shum et al. 2013). The organization created it twitter account named as @AppleSupport, where they provide tutorial and tips for its Twitter followers and after launching this, by the next day it has replied to 500 queries and achieved more than 45,000 twitter followers toward their service (Business Insider. 2016). The database management system maintains data quality by restricting the unauthorized access, limits the access to protect confidential information and enforce proper security during the network operations (Kapko 2016). The customer relationship management helps the Apple supporters to provide bets quality service regarding the queries of the customers who hold Twitter accounts.

Acts on the material environment

Actor-network theory is used as the reflection of modern computing society. This section is highlighted to describe the advantages and disadvantages contemporary computing in the aspect of actor-network theory. From the knowledge and information perspective, Parasie and Dagiral (2012) stated that contemporary accounting helps to provide suitable information and data to streamline the entire business operations.

Conclusion

From this assignment, it can be concluded that, every actant of computing stories are impacted by other actants to achieve the aim of assemblage. The two special stories which have discussed for this particular assignment have different hardware and software actants, which are interrelated to each other. While talking about the fake profiles over the social media, the failure of technical security to be considered as software actants that cannot protect victims' lives from unauthorized and fake users. However, in the second case management authority of Apple organization tried to reach to their customers through the support of Twitter accounts. Therefore, in both the cases, actor-network theory covers all the aspects of human phenomenon to no human activities

References

AdWeek. 2016. Apple Finally Joins Twitter With an Eye Toward Socializing Its Customer Service. [online] Available at: https://www.adweek.com/news/technology/apple-finally-joins-twitter-eye-toward-socializing-its-customer-service-169979 [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

Bechmann, A. and Lomborg, S., 2013. Mapping actor roles in social media: Different perspectives on value creation in theories of user participation. New media & society, 15(5), pp.765-781.

Bijker, W.E., Hughes, T.P., Pinch, T. and Douglas, D.G., 2012. The social construction of technological systems: New directions in the sociology and history of technology. MIT press.

Business Insider. 2016. Apple's new Twitter account has already helped thousands of users in its first day. [online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/Apples-new-Twitter-account-has-already-helped-thousands-of-users-in-its-first-day/articleshow/51260322.cms [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

Coolhackingtrick.com. 2016. Hacking Someone's Facebook Password Using Some Software Or Website? No Sir You Can't! | Cool Hacking Tricks. [online] Available at: https://www.coolhackingtrick.com/2014/02/facebook-hacking-website-truth.html [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

ITV News. 2016. 'Fake profile' online trolls can now face criminal charges. [online] Available at: https://www.itv.com/news/2016-03-03/fake-profile-online-trolls-can-now-face-criminal-charges/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

Kapko, M. 2016. Apple launches new @AppleSupport channel on Twitter. [online] CIO. Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/3040863/tech-support/apple-launches-new-applesupport-channel-on-twitter.html [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

Mpazanje, F., Sewchurran, K. and Brown, I., 2013. Rethinking Information Systems Projects using Actor-Network Theory–Perspectives from a Developing Country. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, 58.

Parasie, S. and Dagiral, E., 2012. Data-driven journalism and the public good:“Computer-assisted-reporters” and “programmer-journalists” in Chicago.New Media & Society, p.1461444812463345.

Ruppert, E., Law, J. and Savage, M., 2013. Reassembling social science methods: The challenge of digital devices. Theory, Culture & Society, 30(4), pp.22-46.

Schreurs, B., Teplovs, C., Ferguson, R., De Laat, M. and Buckingham Shum, S., 2013, April. Visualizing social learning ties by type and topic: Rationale and concept demonstrator. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 33-37). ACM.

The Huffington Post UK. 2016. This Big Part Of Online Trolling Is About To Become Illegal. [online] Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/03/03/internet-trolls-fake-profiles-humiliate-people-criminal-charges-cps_n_9371548.html [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

Venturini, T., 2012. Building on faults: how to represent controversies with digital methods. Public Understanding of Science, 21(7), pp.796-812.

Wired UK. 2016. Apple Support is now available on Twitter (Wired UK). [online] Available at: https://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2016-03/03/apple-support-twitter-customer-support [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

Wired UK. 2016. Trolls who use fake profiles will face prosecution (Wired UK). [online] Available at: https://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2016-03/03/trolls-criminal-prosecution-facebook-twitter [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].

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