Meaning against the Machine

Software is becoming a ubiquitous and sophisticated tool for work. But what does working with computers mean to you, and how do you think we should use technology? We want to know.

Stay Tuned for our Study


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denkzeug is a scientific study on the subjectivity of digital work tools, including new advances from machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The study is being developed by Sabine Pfeiffer and Max Held at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Nuremberg, Germany in partnership with Martin Krzywdzinski and Maren Evers at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). It is part of a research project on wearable computing in the workplace, funded by Hans-Böckler Stiftung, the think tank for the German trade unions.

denkzeug is a portmanteau, comprised of the german word for thinking (= ‘denken’) and tool (= ‘Werkzeug’), translating to thinktool. It invokes the extension of human faculties by ubiquitous and sophisticated software as a tool for work. For a history of the term, see our full report.

Study participants rank-order item pairs on work and technology, using a shiny-based frontend. These pairwise orderings are then subjected to a several dimensionality reduction techniques to yield common patterns of viewpoints.

The study is currently in development and will go into the field in the summer of 2019.