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The Technology Context – B101

B101 discussion

Academic year 2011/12



Technology is required to meet functional, production and economic constraints. The discussion encourages students to consider the additional complexity involved with adapting technology to meet environmental, social and cultural objectives. The online writing format emphasize the importance of accurately articulating personal views which show respect for the complexity of the issues and empathy for different and possibly competing objectives.


What is a sustainable tablet computer?


EXTRACT:   So what about the "made in India" part? The Aakash Ubislate is assembled in DataWind's Hyderabad factory. The plant has a capacity of about 2,000 units a month, to be "eventually" ramped up to 100,000 a month. As you'd expect in this global age, parts are sourced from all over the world. To try to "make" everything in any one country, whether India or the US, would be stupid. About a 10th of the components, by value, are locally sourced. And the overall design (including adding USB!), the integration and the testing are probably all Indian. None of this is trivial.

EXTRACT:   Which is why it makes little sense to spend this much time and effort in "made in India" development. So what other device could the Indian government have picked to subsidise? My bet would be either a cheap standard netbook, or an ultra-cheap, usable e-book reader that instantly access the vast amount of almost-ready content.

SOURCE:   Roy, P. (2011, October 15). Does india's budget tablet computer work? BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15302663


Questions for discussion


  1. What are the intrinsic and instrumental values associated with a computer in tablet form?
  2. Is there a difference in the intrinsic or instrumental values between a tablet computer versus other types of computers, such as desktop, laptop or netbook?
  3. What are the requirements for a sustainable tablet computer?
  4. Should the government purchase sustainable tablet computers?
  5. Should the government provide financing to companies for manufacturing sustainable tablet computers?


Contributions to the discussion


Marks are based on the ability of students to express their opinions correctly, clearly and effectively. They are not based on whether the lecturer agrees or disagrees with the opinions in the coursework. That is the reason feedback is not provided about the opinions in the posts. Students are encouraged to express their opinions and reply to posts – while practicing their writing skills. The discussion closed on November 25, 2011.
Post 22 by Moderator @ 05:50am Nov 29, 2011
Feedback to post 16:

Post 21 by Moderator @ 05:45am Nov 29, 2011
Feedback to post 15:

Post 20 by Moderator @ 05:41am Nov 29, 2011
Feedback to post 14:

Post 19 by Moderator @ 05:40am Nov 29, 2011
Feedback to post 13:

Post 18 by Moderator @ 05:33am Nov 29, 2011
Feedback to post 12:

Post 17 by Moderator @ 05:28am Nov 29, 2011
Feedback to post 11:

Post 16 @ 08:01am Nov 24, 2011
1. Intrinsic values associated with a computer in tablet form is that you can carry int around anywhere you go, so then you can do any work if required and to use it for there social life. Instrumental values could be that when you are carrying the tablet computer around then you can get work done. So, basically should the company you work for require the work urgently or there's an urgent e-mail you'll be able to reply to it.

2. In regards to the netbook and laptop there aren't really any differences in intrinsic and instrumental needs as they have the same uses. With desktop yes there are values because you can't carry a desktop around with you.

3. The material it is made out of. Long batteries because you wouldn't want it to run out of charge whilist you are out.

4. It's up to them really. The top government workers have there own secretaries to provide them with information they need and can find out information for them.

5. If tablet computers are selling well and the revenues from it are large then it would be a good idea to subsidise comapnies to manufacture them as it will lead to income coming into the country or staying in the country rather than leaving the country.
Post 15 @ 07:24pm Nov 20, 2011
(1) A tablet computer is a compact computer that combines function with portability. It enables people to stay connected, continue to work, study and entertain. But are they really necessary (2) when there are many other devices on the market that do the same thing? Some are even cheaper and go beyond the limits of what the tablet cannot do.
(3) I think to make a sustainable tablet computer it needs to be made from robust but sustainable materials. This includes the batteries which have been known to store less and less power as it ages. Also to make the tablet sustainable it needs to be able to keep up with the latest technology and not become completely out-of-date in 6-12 months.
(4,5) If the the government wants to become involved with the new developing technologies such as buying tablets then again we have to think is it the best of our options? The government could pass a law and limit production of less sustainable tablets and introduce a form of funding to go towards developing the technology in that country. They could also promote the developing sustainable technology by purchasing them, when needed.
Post 14 @ 04:54pm Nov 20, 2011
Tablet computers are a good idea.
Post 13 @ 08:00am Nov 18, 2011
1. The Tablet Computer seems to be the current craze. It currently seems to be the one thing that answers the question of Portability, adaptability, flexibility and the whole great Technological ideaology of having Everything, Everywhere and at Anytime.

2. The Tablet Computer offers the same usable features as a Standard Computer or Laptop and more i.e Navigation, Mobile Telephone Connectivity. However there is limitations on the availability of using the Tablet as everything is battery powered, although this is across the board for most portable technologies.
3. Technology in this case, the Tablet Computer is sustainable if it's affordable to the masses, Environmentally friendly to produce with as low carbon footprint as possible as well as ease of usability.
4. The Government should be the number customer of sustainable Tablet Computers. The Government would save money and maybe be improve productivity. On the other hand, This would be a major boost to the manufacturers and it would also have an overall effect of creating jobs. The whole idea meant by sustainability.
5. The Governments role in this message of producing sustainable Tablet PC's is vital. The Government already has most if not all of the Resources in place hence re-invetion of the wheel would not be necessary. The biggest Spender and Consumer of resources is the Government. Financially supporting companies to manufacture Table Computers would be good for the manufacturers and employees. If subsidised it might benefit the general consumer.
Post 12 @ 03:49pm Nov 17, 2011
I think if the government was going to purchase tablet computers then it should consider sustainably produced tablets as an option. However, maybe there should be a greater move on the part of companies towards making all products more sustainable. Do they really need an incentive other than the long term good that a move towards sustainable production methods would provide?
Post 11 @ 07:15am Nov 17, 2011
1- A tablet gives the user the opportunity to use their computer experience in a device that is relatively portable, lightweight and easy to use. Its intrinsic value is practicality as information and resources are easily available and its instrumental value would be portability and freedom as the user is able to browse the full web on the go without having to carry around a laptop which is heavier and has to be opened to use.

2- There is not that much difference in the intrinsic value between tablets and other types of computers as they both have similar purposes but are just used in different ways and in different places (i.e home, work, outside etc.). However, its Instrumental value differs with the tablet as the user has more freedom as is able to use it in much more places and is more practical for the Internet than the mobile phone thanks to faster processors and larger screens.

3-A sustainable tablet computer has to have a long battery life if it truly wants to give the user the freedom to take the tablet with them wherever they go and has to survive as long as they need it. A good quality battery and a longer battery life can result in a more energy efficient device as less power output is wasted on unwanted factors such as heat.

4-The government should probably not yet commit to purchasing sustainable tablet computers as technology is currently changing and expanding in a small amount of time and since tablets have only been popular with the mass market for the last couple of years, it would not make sense to purchase a large amount in this early stage in popularity.

5- The government should consider providing financing to manufacture sustainable tablets but I do not think that it is a priority at the moment for the government as there are bigger, more urgent issues to tackle. A lot of research and planning has to go in to manufacturing products like a sustainable tablet so it could be a good decision to finance it but only once thorough thought has gone into it as it is very easy for the tablet not to succeed as we have seen with the Aakash ubislate.
Post 10 by Moderator @ 03:24pm Nov 14, 2011
Feedback to post 8:


If it was the coursework, the student would need to think more about using headings to organise the structure of the article so that each heading has a direct link to the thesis statement or the research question.
Post 9 by Moderator @ 03:04pm Nov 14, 2011
Feedback to post 7:


The second paragraph contains claims that have many opposing opinions. For example, "government spending does not provide economic growth". If it was the coursework, the student would need to find supporting research evidence. It would also be useful to research contrary opinions in order to anticipate different reader perspectives.
Post 8 @ 04:47pm Nov 9, 2011
The most important aspect associated with the tablet computer is their practicality.These gadgets have transformed every aspect of human life.Work can be tackled at any place or time.As a result,companies output has increased.
They are evolving gradually as they adapt to increasing demand for different functionality.Governments' should encourage their production as they are more user friendly compared to desktops,laptops and notebooks.
Despite their usefulness,there are also several negative factors.One of the most important of these is data security.Recently,a few of United Kingdom (U.K) government civil servants have fallen victim ,when tablet computers labelled "Top Secret",have been left unattended.This has resulted to job losses and overwhelming public outcry.
All in all,the advantages far outweigh's the disadvantages hence the government's should purchase in bulks.Dessimation of information has been enhanced immensely.In the developing world,they have been very instrumental in giving power to the people.The emergence of the Arab Spring has resulted to fall of dictators and regime changes.Issues regarding human rights can be easily addressed due to videoing capability.For instance,the brutal killing of Col.Gaddafi raised questions on Libya's Rule of Law.
Post 7 @ 03:45pm Nov 9, 2011
Response to question 1:

The intrinsic value of a tablet PC is similar to that of a netbook or smartphone. The intrinsic value of mobile computing devices should not change dramatically with form factor.

In order to measure the instrumental value of the device an observation must be taken of the surrounding context. There is no question that the eventual "ramped up" production will create jobs in the factory, boosting Hyderabad's economy, but this expansion is funded by the taxpayer. Generally, government spending does not provide economic growth and can be better described as redistributing the country's wealth. In contrast, a manufacturer building and selling these devices for profit, operating without subsidy, is more likely to generate exports and promote growth in the host economy. The latter option is preferable due to the benefits provided to the wider economy. Therefore, the instrumental value of the device in the article is high on a local level but negative on the country's economy as a whole.
Post 6 by Moderator @ 12:56pm Nov 9, 2011
Feedback to post 3:

Post 5 by Moderator @ 12:35pm Nov 9, 2011
Feedback to post 2:


The writing showed that the student was starting to think about the topic and was starting to form a personal position about the topic. If it was the coursework, the next step for the student would have been to research other (possibly contrary) perspectives about the topic. That research would help anticipate different reader views and help the student write better support of their own opinions.
Post 4 by Moderator @ 12:27pm Nov 9, 2011
Feedback to post 1:


The writing showed that the student was starting to think about the topic and was successful at finding information. If it was the coursework, the next step for the student would have been to write drafts as a way to choose a smaller subset of the information for further research and revision.
Post 3 @ 04:11pm Nov 8, 2011
The most important aspect associated with the tablet computers is their practicality. These gadgets have transformed work places by making offices less crowded. In addition, workers are not constrained to limited hours. Work can be tackled at any place or time. The positive effect is the vast increase in output. Despite their usefulness, there is also several negative factors such as data security.
Post 2 @ 08:00am Nov 7, 2011
Government and Sustainable Tablet Computers

Primarily, the government is generally bound to finding new ways of conserving both money and power as more and more green incentives are in place – something that doesn’t come very easily. With all the initiatives presently around to make places “more eco friendly”, it would seem a prudent step to acquire sustainable portable devices.

But this brings up another question. Why pursue this? The phrases “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is something that comes up in my mind. Migrating hundreds of government workers from laptops etc to tablet pcs is likely to be costly and problematic, even with the best of planning. So we’re being told at every turn to save energy etc, while a whole new government project to replace something that works fine at the moment with something that could potentially cause large problems is happening. A large example of this would be the NHS computer system.
Furthermore, the portability and size of something like the Aakash is also a problem in this case: we’ve heard lots of instances where laptops and important documents have been left in public places – how much easier will it be to do this if people are carrying small tablet pcs around?

The same issue is present for the government potentially providing funding for other companies to manufacture portable sustainable devices. Eventually both the cost of the upgrade for the government and the financing for the manufacturing companies would reflect back on the tax payer, potentially making the government unpopular in the eyes of the public. That then brings up the possibility of them losing power, and a new government being left with a tricky situation – continue the project (and risk becoming just as unpopular as the previous government) or abandoning and inciting further discontent because an expensive project has been terminated and the money has been lost. Although this digresses from the topic, it shows that the mere question of the tablet pc for government usage can still spark political problems.

In conclusion, there may be many difficulties, set-backs and other issues which affect the issue of sustainable tablet pcs, and these problems are going to be difficult to predict. Final verdict – see my previous statement – “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” I think this is the general sentiment to my arguments.
Post 1 @ 10:09am Nov 3, 2011
Should the government provide financing to companies for manufacturing sustainable tablet computers?

In this report I am going to be discussing one the main areas that surround the world of sustainable tablet computing. This area is weather the government should provide financing to companies who produce and manufacture a sustainable tablet computer. In this small report I will be looking at both the pros/advantages and the cons/disadvantages of this situation.

The first part of this report is going to be looking at the advantages and reasons why the government should be financing companies who make sustainable tablet computers. The first advantage of this is that it would increase the amount of work that would be done by workers. This is because with a tablet computer office staff will be able to complete task out of the office. This is because the tablet is much more portable than its other contenders like laptops or netbooks. This would be a huge advantage to both the company and staff as they would have more efficient working practice. This will in turn the amount of work completed by the staff for their company.
The next point I am going to raise is about the economy. This is a very important and current topic in the country at the moment. If the government financed the manufacturing of sustainable tablets it would help increase the economy. This would be because tablets are a lot cheaper than other forms of computing. This means that more general users will feel more comfortable and confident to purchase a tablet. This will in turn mean that they will be spending out on the high street. This is a very important as to help increase the economy people need to spend out into the high street. If this is done via a cheaper alternative to the more traditional computing methods it does not matter. This is why the government should recognize this and provide financing and help to companies that manufacture such items. In doing this it may mean that these companies will stay active. This is return will help the economy as they will still have to employ the staff. This therefore means that they have the money to spend back into the high street and the economy.
My last point for this statement is that tablet computing is a new piece of technology and could be a vital way forward for the world of technology. But in saying this in the current global economic situation companies may not feel safe to expand and develop possible new ideas like tablets. This means that if the government was able to provide financing for these companies they would be comfortable to expand and develop these ideas. This will therefore mean that company will develop not only the tablet computer but other pieces of new technology.

The next part of this report is going to explain the cons and points that are against the statement. The first point is that the world of technology grows and changes continuously this therefore means this form of technology will become outdated. This is because it will be replaced by something that is the result of the latest idea. This therefore means that if the government does provide funding to companies who manufacture the tablet it may become outdated and they would move on to develop new ideas and concepts. If this did happen then the government would be wasting the funding and investment money.
In saying this on the other hand it may have the opposite affect on the world of technology. This opposite affect would be that companies would not develop new ideas and concepts. This could occur if the government funds the manufacture of only one type of technology like the tablet computer. This would cause companies not manufacture new ideas as they want or need the funding they would obtain from making only the current one type of technology the tablet computer. This overall would have a huge impact on the world of technology as it would not advance as the current rate.
The last point I am going to raise against this statement is that the government is not in the position to invest and fund companies who manufacture these tablet computers. This is because the global economy is in a lot of trouble and wasting large amounts of the government’s money on these area of technology is pointless. The main reason why this is pointless is because the tablet computer market is one of the few areas of the economy which does not need boosting. This is because this area of computing is overtaking the sales figures of both laptop and netbook computers. So this clearly shows that the government does not need to waste there needed money on an area which does not need the funding.
Overall in this report I have outlined a few points for and against the government funding companies who manufacture sustainable tablet computers. The final point I would like to end on is that the government should be confident in funding and investing in manufacture of technology and any new advancement in it. This is because the world of technology needs investment to develop and the global economy need more money spent in the high street. The easiest way for the latter to occur is by consumers buying new pieces of technology.