Adrian’s Challenge to the Taxonomy

From reading the examples provided by students who had taken the courses from the previous semesters, challenges to the taxonomy generally fall into two categories:

Examples of technology that do not have distinct boundaries and hence do not fit the conceptual categories in Dewey’s  taxonomy /Bruce & Levin’s classification, For example, there are specific types of technology that cannot be neatly classified into the categories.

Inadequacy of taxonomy’s classification. For example, students have proposed additional categories to the taxonomy

An example of a technology that does not fit the categories: Tomagochi - a virtual pet toy that has taken Asia by storm in the last year. For more description of the toy, please refer to this homepage

The concerns of its usage are addressed in

Although the use of this technology can be classified each of the four categories (inquiring, communicating, expression and construction), I am unsure how to classify the function of the toy because its utility grew out of the need to provide individuals with some experience in caring for pets in a land scarce country. This raises further questions about the uses of the toy:

Is it used to teach children to care for a pet in computer simulated conditions that mirror the realities of  caring for a real pet ?

Is it used by educators and parents to impress upon their children the importance of attention and providing the optimum amount of food, play activities and even academic needs of these virtual pets ?

Is it used as an educational tool to enable the students to learn more about optimizing levels of "giving" ?

Is it used mainly to express the child’s affection for the pet ?

Is the toy used as an educational tool or for entertainment  ?

There is considerable overlap in the categories. Classification of the use of technology is dependent upon the user. This brings us to a related point. That the definition of the taxonomy seems limited in that it focuses mainly on the interface between the end user and the computer. For example, the Dewey's categories of inquiring, communicating, expression, construction are defined from the  perspective of the user.

I would argue that with the increasing use of world wide web and the growing recognition that it is rich and efficient source of information, then surely the social purpose of technology needs to be considered. For example, Michelle Hinn’s description of the use technology to liberate persons with disabilities and Avatans Kumar’s view that it could possibly be used as a tool for discrimination allude to the need to consider the uses of technology not only from the user point of view but from a broader social and societal perspective.

Another challenge to the existing taxonomy is that the classification lacks an independent verification of its utility. While the authors have attempted to a limited testing of their classification scheme, a more rigorous application of the taxonomy on other projects by other researchers seem to be critical to demonstrate its wide applicability and the universality of the  four categories.

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Updated on Saturday, Feb 21st, 1998