Tech Professor Publishes Book Through MIT Press

Tech Professor Publishes Book, Technically Together, Through MIT Press


SOCORRO, N.M. – Dr. Taylor Dotson, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences in the CLASS Department and NMT alumnus, published his first book through MIT Press, a top-ranked university publisher.

His book, Technically Together: Reconstructing Community in a Networked World, draws from his dissertation research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), which hosts one of the nation’s top graduate programs in Science and Technology Studies. He opens his book with the question of why some people still feel lonely in a world in which social media platforms such as Facebook put people into more frequent, albeit digitally mediated, contact with each other than ever.

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Dr. Taylor Dotson


Despite all the wonderful conveniences of 21st century life,” Dotson said, “it is not hard to find people who wish that friendship and togetherness wasn't such hard work, that they weren't just flitting from network to network but belonged somewhere.”

“What is lost and who loses in the shift toward network based social life?” he writes.

Dotson argues that there is nothing preordained about the character of community life in the 21st century. People could retrieve some of the facets of communal togetherness that have been lost, while maintaining the better aspects of digital sociality, by demanding more from their technologies and the people who design and regulate them.

Dotson, who graduated from New Mexico Tech with bachelor’s and master’s in mathematics in 2006 and 2008, respectively, credits the inspiration for this topic coming from conversations with his college roommate, Matt Finnell, over the design of the new Fidel Student Center, and the degree to which it encouraged social gatherings and meetings.

“I’ve moved over two dozen times in my life to a wide range of locales, all of which have in some ways influenced my ideas on the formation of community,” Dotson said. “My experiences at NMT and Socorro inspired me to think carefully about how scale-dependent certain kinds of social practices are.

“Tech offers students, staff, and faculty possibilities for togetherness that are much harder to realize on campuses that have 50,000 students and are located in sprawling metropolises,” he said. 

After completing his Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies at RPI in 2015, Dotson returned to New Mexico Tech to develop courses that explore the social and political aspects of technology and technological change. He has helped develop the Full STEAM Ahead Living Learning Community and has offered other popular courses such as Unintended Consequences, Accidents, and Disasters (SS 201); Environment, Science, and Technology (SS 211); and The Digital Age and its Discontents (SS 311). He has also spearheaded the creation of a minor in Science, Technology, and Society, starting in fall 2017.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Dotson is faculty advisor to the Tech Rugby Football Club. He was heavily involved in hiring new head coach Brent Nourse and expanding the club’s fundraising efforts.

– NMT –

Press release adapted from materials submitted by Timothy Erickson for TC 305: Science Writing