Case Analysis_1 - Social Informatics Principles
Read the article: Social Informatics-Overview, Principles and Opportunities-3.pdf
More than 30 years of careful empirical research exists in the social informatics tradition, and as noted by Steve Sawyer, this work found in a range of academic disciplines, reflects a mix of theories and methods, and focuses on different issues and problems with computerization. The following are five observations discussed in class that are so often rediscovered that they take on the notion of common findings relative to computerization and the digitization of our worlds and environments:
Uses of ICT lead to multiple and sometimes paradoxical effects (intended vs unintended effects). Any one ICT effect is rarely isolatable to a desired task. Instead, effects of using an ICT spread out to a much larger number of people through the socio-technical links that comprise context. An examination of this larger context often reveals multiple effects, rather than one all-encompassing outcome, and unexpected as well as planned events. For example, peer-to-peer file sharing may help some musicians and hurt others.
Uses of ICT shape thought and action in ways that benefit some groups more than others (Winners & losers). People live and work together in powered relationships. Thus, the political, economic and technical structures they construct include large-scale social structures of capital exchange, as well as the microstructures that shape human interaction. An examination of power often shows that a system’s implementations can both reinforce the status quo and motivate resistance. That is, the design, development and uses of ICTs help reshape access in unequal and often ill-considered ways. Thus, course management systems may provide added benefits to some students, put added pressure on some faculty and allow some administrators to use the system to collect additional evidence regarding the performances of both students and faculty.
The differential effects of the design, implementation and uses of ICTs often have moral and ethical consequences. This finding is so often rediscovered in studies across the entire spectrum of ICTs and across various levels of analysis that ignorance of this point borders on professional naiveté. Social informatics research, in its orientation towards critical scholarship, helps to raise the visibility of all participants and a wider range of effects than do other approaches to studying computerization. For example, characterizing errors in diagnosing illnesses as a human limitation may lead to the belief that implementing sophisticated computer-based diagnostic systems is a better path. When these systems err, the tendency may be to refocus efforts to improve the computerized system rather than on better understanding the processes of triage and diagnosis.
The design, implementation and uses of ICTs have reciprocal relationships with the larger social context. The larger context shapes both the ICTs and their uses. Moreover, these artifacts and their uses shape the emergent contexts. This can be seen in the micro-scale adaptations that characterize how people use their personal computers and in the macro-scale adaptations evident in both the evolving set of norms and the changing designs of library automation systems. Library automation is not simply about recent developments of applications with sophisticated librarianship functionality; it is also about patrons’ differential abilities to use computers, library budget pressures, Internet access to libraries and the increasing visibility of the Internet and searching.
The phenomenon of interest will vary by the level of analysis. Because networks of influence operate across many different levels of analysis, relevant data on computerization typically span formal and informal work groups; formal organizations; formal and informal social units like communities or professional occupation/associations; groups of organizations and/or industries; nations, cultural groups and whole societies. This common finding is exemplified by the tremendous positive response by younger users to peer-to-peer file sharing, the absolute opposite.
Select and research one concept/application or trend in ICT and Informatics from current events or areas you think will be of real interest to discuss. Apply the latter 5 principles and common findings of Social Informatics to present your summary and findings. Create a summary report of 1 to 2 pages and a PowerPoint to present and discuss your analysis substantiated by the articles or web resources you used.
Be sure to note the date and the publication in which the articles appeared in your reference list. See the attached sample template for reference on how to compile your report. Provide your analysis addressing the latter five findings and as described in class. Please don’t just summarize from the source and don't copy them; discuss and provide your own point of view based on the 5 principles with enough information to talk comfortably about the story or event/topic/ICT application you have chosen.
This assignment may be completed in groups or individually. Invite other students to be part of your group or join other groups already formed. Each group cannot have more than 5 students. Use Skype if it is available to all group members to hold your group meetings and discuss your presentation and summary report before submission.
Save the file as Case Analysis-TR1_YourName or GroupName and upload in Canvas under Case Analysis-1 Social Informatics Principles