Savage et al. (2010)

This is not an easy paper to read. It is not directly about education, like Weston. The emphasis on uncertainty and complexity and being wary of large claims are important given the certainty you often find in so much of the literature that derives from this field. There is something of a link to the Pireddu paper in that Savage and friends repeat the McLuhan argument that we make sense of the future or the new by looking in our rear view mirrors. This is an approach to 'the digital' via social theory. They make this point:

So how is the digital approached in social theory? Our suggestion is that this is done in three main ways. Each is provocative and raises vital issues, but none, we argue, places the digital, in its ubiquity, its routinisation, and its mundanity, at centre-stage. Instead they impart intrinsic properties to the digital, which is imagined to grow and unfold so that its qualities become more widely disseminated. By contrast, we argue that it is important to understand digital devices relationally, and explore both how they interact with other kinds of devices, and how they themselves are both varied, and composed of diverse socio-technical arrangements.

So rather than imputing any essential attributes to digital 'stuff', they argue that it is better understood relationally.

The paper is useful in that it also maps the big papers and ideas that have been important elements in debates about the digital. For instance, you could see that a paper like Weston's would fall under their cluster of what they term epochalist social theory.

The paper is concerned with doing research, social science research. It offers some thought-provoking notions that may inform your own thinking if you are undertaking the research pathway.

Their nine theses are useful ways of getting past rear-view mirror or horseless carriage thinking1. Thinking about the transactions of the digital that you don't see but are clearly occurring every time you make use of a browser, send an email and so on. Arthur (2011)2 talks about this as a second economy.

The third thesis, visualisation and its role in presenting large data sets, information flows and the like is an important idea. There is much to say here and plenty of good examples3.

This is a paper that you may find yourselves going back to. Their agenda is a lot different from much of what you will find as ways of thinking about the digital. I think their closing comments (p. 14) put it well:

we have recommended a genealogical approach that is alive both to the ways in which digital devices reconfigure expertise and institutional circuits, and the ways that social agents of various kinds contest their value and efficacy. At the same time, we have argued that it is important to attend to their distinctive qualities as ‘automated’ devices in which data are by-products that do not require the awareness or intervention of transacting individuals or academic experts.