One of the reasons I joined the Institute for the Future (and perhaps one of the reasons they were interested in me) was that I saw similarities between the craft-work of science and technology studies (STS) and technology forecasting. Both are concerned with understanding the forces that influence the development of technologies. Both see technologies– and specialized forms of technical and scientific knowledge– as social artifacts that can be best understood using the tools of the social sciences. Both are interested in how technologies affect society and culture, and how society and culture shape technologies. Finally, both are concerned to see the contingencies in their subjects: people in STS want to recover the myriad ways that technologies could have evolved, while forecasters want to map the possible ways they still could unfold.
The essay “STS@Work” is an attempt to explore these connections, and to outline the uses of STS in forecasting and corporate strategy. It is still evolving, and I expect it will go through several revisions. It may or may not be published in its current form; I hope to spin off some smaller pieces in this general intellectual space.
Another motive behind this essay is my desire to show how academic ideas can be used in the business world, how academics can find interesting problems in the "real world," and how intellectually ambitious scholars can craft rewarding "post-academic" careers for themselves. So this essay continues a project begun with "The Journeyman Project."
I welcome feedback on the piece, which was originally posted on 19 September 2002.