Importance of Computing and Actor Network Theory


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Computing is a goal-oriented process of using the operations of computers to perform some calculations. The user utilizes various computer technologies for completing some sorts of tasks. It involves designing, developing, processing, structuring and managing hardware and software along with various kinds of information. There are various fields of computing such as computer engineering, software engineering, computer science, information systems and information technology (Greenhalgh and Stones, 2010).

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The statement “Within modern computing, every actant acts or is acted upon by at least one other actant” is true with respect to the Actor-Network Theory. In the present time, there is a strong relationship between computers and human. The main thing to take care of here is that a computer can be any sort of device. The present essay is based on two stories regarding new technologies. The file includes actor-network theory, its relevancy, the relation between hardware and software actant and issues related to the stories.

Actor-Network Theory and its relevancy

Actor Network Theory (ANT) is a continuous process which shows the relationship of society with technologies and other non-human actors. This theory explains both the human and non-human actants as well as provides them equal agency within the web or actor-network. It is one of the most effective and appropriate tools which describes the processes through which invention and technological systems succeed or fail (Fang, Marle, Zio and Bocquet, 2012). While developing a new technology, the inventor passes it through various stages of innovation to connect it with the users and different components. An inventor needs to employ both the analytical and descriptive framework while dealing with humans and machines. In ANT, the actor is something that acts and the actant is the one to which activity is granted by another (Armbrust and 2010).

In addition, actant refers to a collective or individual agent who can be connected to the other agents whereas actors are the combination of symbolically invested things, relations or inscriptions. Both actors and actants combine and form a network by connecting each other strongly (Banks, 2011). This theory is a conceptual frame which helps in exploring collective socio-technical processes in which the spokesperson gives more attention to science and technology. This theory does not make a comparison between science and technology. In ANT, networks overcome the resistance and make strong bonds internally by getting coherence and consistency. Three principles are given by ANT which are agnosticism, generalised symmetry and free association. While forming the network, such theory gives emphasis to all the surrounding objects and adds them to it (Feldman and Orlikowski, 2011).

Story 1: Facebook's initiative aims to connect 'the next 5 billion people

The story is based on the innovation of Facebook with respect to for connecting the world with each other with the help of the internet. With reference to the Actor Network Theory, the actor of this story is whereas actants are people, structural actants and computing assemblage. By combining both the actor and actant, Facebook is trying to achieve the objective of world connectivity (Chowdhury, Chen and Tiong, 2011). It is also thinking of providing internet access to developing nations for their development and enhancement. This will help in connecting the people and reducing the distances. By developing relationships between the internet and humans, various businesses, diverse customers, etc. will get many advantages (Cranmer, Desmarais and Kirkland, 2012). There are reductions in the cost of internet access and formation of such applications which can minimize data usage. Further, it will also increase employment and provide various opportunities regarding development as well as improvement.

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With the help of ANT, Facebook can bring revolution to the world. The actor of this story is acting and impacting positively on the actants. It is taking all the factors of surrounding and involving it for developing a good relationship (Degenais, Fodor, Schulze and Toohey, 2013). By taking advantage of various services such as music, Wikipedia, messaging, social networks, etc. free of cost, people can able to enhance their knowledge and skills in different fields. With respect to culture, this innovation will change the cultural and social life of people. It will increase virtual communities, easy access to information, changing beliefs, perceptions and opinions of humans etc. (Scolari, 2012).

The connection between hardware and software actants is important as its combination helps an individual to perform and complete his/her task effectively. Both the hardware and software actant play a specific role in the story of of Facebook. With respect to the hardware actant, this story includes machines, people, computer systems and technologies (, 2016). On the other hand, software actants are programming, developing, designing, and structuring the hardware and software as well as different languages. Facebook can effectively and efficiently accomplish its objective of connecting the world and providing internet access to developing countries by combining both the hardware and software actants properly. This will provide smooth working, various services, etc. to the people without any mistake which will also lead to high customer satisfaction (Venturini, 2010).

Despite the advantages, there are some problems also which can affect the various factors. will use Big Data due to the large amount of information. Cloud computing is also a new stream in computing and networking. Although Management and maintenance of Big Data are not an easy task. Along with this, it will change the lifestyle of people as they will start giving more time to the Internet instead of their personal relations. On the other hand, this will decrease the thinking, problem and risk-taking ability of individuals due to the internet. This will also increase ethical issues such as stealing of information, lack of privacy, increased victimless crimes, etc. This will decrease the morale, values and ethics of people as they will start using Internet services for their personal purposes and benefits (Berzai, 2012).

Story 2: Yahoo Exec Shows Encrypted Email at SXSW

This story is based on encrypted email services for providing more security to the people. With reference to the Actor Network Theory, the actor of this story is Yahoo and actants are digital actants, computing assemblage, encryption protocol actants and humans. All these create a network for accomplishing Yahoo's objective of encrypted email. Yahoo is going to improve its search option as it is one of the most used functions by users (Armbrust and 2010). The reason behind providing the service of encryption is the increasing cause of cybercrime, pervasive computing as well as issues faced by Wikileaks and Snowden.

By providing the service of encryption, Yahoo can satisfy its users more effectively and can increase their trust as well as loyalty. With respect to various levels of assemblages, the technical level includes encryption protocol which makes unreadable emails to any but intended recipient (Rydin, 2012). Along with this, the innovation of Yahoo will affect the cultural factor as it will change the functioning of sending and receiving emails. In addition, encryption actant will connect people to the business plan of Yahoo which will result in to increase in the willingness of people to sign up with a Yahoo account to use its new and improved services. On the other hand, the service of encrypted email will reduce the ability of states and businesses to keep spying on emails (Arnaboldi and Spiller, 2011).

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Understanding the relation between the hardware and software actants is important for this story as it will help in providing simple, easy and protective access to emails. Hardware actant includes people, computer systems and smartphones whereas software actant consists of appropriate connectivity, coding, designing, developing and structuring so that encrypted email service can work effectively (Borgatti and Halgin, 2011). It is essential to connect both the actants properly to get effective and expected results. A combination of hardware and software actant will provide smooth functioning to the user without any error or problem. Yahoo can able to implement and execute its service efficiently which will also lead to fulfilling the requirement of security by the users (Hooper, 2012).

The story contains some issues also which need to be solved. The company is unaware of the reaction of people towards the change in the email service of Yahoo. It can be possible that users will dislike this due to higher security as well as encrypted data and in such case, they will like to switch to other search engines. By this action, the company can face great failure. In addition, encrypted data will create problems for the users in searching for data or information. This will also lead to customer dissatisfaction (Durepos and Mills, 2012).


The above study helps in explaining the statement “Within modern computing, every actant acts or is acted upon by at least one other actant” with the help of two stories. It is concluded that computing is one of the most important parts of innovations and improvements. Along with this, Actor network theory helps in combining all the factors for developing a network which assists in achieving the objectives effectively. The story of Facebook and Yahoo helps in understanding how various actants are working by creating networks. Both stories are facing some issues which need to be improved to make the technology and services more effective and efficient.

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  • Armbrust, M. and 2010. A view of cloud computing.Communications of the ACM.
  • Arnaboldi, M. and Spiller, N., 2011. Actor-network theory and stakeholder collaboration: The case of Cultural Districts.Tourism Management.
  • Borgatti, S. P. and Halgin, D. S., 2011. On network theory.Organization Science.
  • Cranmer, S. J., Desmarais, B. A. and Kirkland, J. H., 2012. Toward a network theory of alliance formation.International Interactions.
  • Degenais, D. and, 2013. Charting new directions: The potential of actor-network theory for analysing children's video making.Language and Literacy.
  • Durepos, G. and Mills, A. J., 2012. Actor-network theory, ANTi-history and critical organizational historiography.Organization science.
  • Fang, C. and, 2012. Network theory-based analysis of risk interactions in large engineering projects.Reliability Engineering & System Safety.
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