Social Informatics Evolving

Social Informatics Evolving

Pnina Fichman, Madelyn R. Sanfilippo, Howard Rosenbaum
ISBN: 9781627054362 | PDF ISBN: 9781627054379
Copyright © 2015 | 108 Pages | Publication Date: September, 2015

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The study of people, information, and communication technologies and the contexts in which these technologies are designed, implemented, and used has long interested scholars in a wide range of disciplines, including the social study of computing, science and technology studies, the sociology of technology, and management information systems. As ICT use has spread from organizations into the larger world, these devices have become routine information appliances in our social lives, researchers have begun to ask deeper and more profound questions about how our lives have become bound up with technologies. A common theme running through this research is that the relationships among people, technology, and context are dynamic, complex, and critically important to understand. This book explores social informatics (SI), one important and dynamic approach that researchers have used to study these complex relationships. SI is "the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses and consequences of information technology that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts" (Kling 1998, p. 52; 1999). SI provides flexible frameworks to explore complex and dynamic socio-technical interactions. As a domain of study related largely by common vocabulary and conclusions, SI critically examines common conceptions of and expectations for technology, by providing contextual evidence.

This book describes the evolution of SI research and identifies challenges and opportunities for future research. In what might be seen as an example of socio-technical "natural selection," SI emerged in six different locations during the 1980s and 1990s: Norway, Slovenia, Japan, the former Soviet Union, the UK and, last, the U.S. As SI evolved, the version popularized in the US became globally dominant. The evolution of SI is presented in five stages: emergence, foundational, expansion, coherence, and transformation. Thus, we divide SI research into five major periods: an emergence stage, when various forms of SI emerged around the globe, an early period of foundational work which grounds SI (Pre-1990s), a period of expansion (1990s), a robust period of coherence and influence by Rob Kling (2000-2005), and a period of transformation (2006-present).

Following the description of the five periods we discuss the evolution throughout the periods under five sections: principles, concepts, approaches, topics, and findings. Principles refer to the overarching motivations and labels employed to describe scholarly work. Approaches describe the theories, frameworks, and models employed in analysis, emphasizing the multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary nature of SI. Concepts include specific processes, entities, themes, and elements of discourse within a given context, revealing a shared SI language surrounding change, complexity, consequences, and social elements of technology. Topics label the issues and general domains studied within social informatics, ranging from scholarly communication to online communities to information systems. Findings from seminal SI works illustrate growing insights over time and demonstrate how repeatable explanations unify SI. In the concluding remarks, we raise questions about the possible futures of SI research.

Table of Contents

Emergence of Competing Sources of Social Informatics
The Evolution of Social Informatics
Approaches and Methods
Author Biographies

About the Author(s)

Pnina Fichman, Indiana University, Bloomington
Pnina Fichman is an Associate Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing, the Director of the Rob Kling Center of Social Informatics, and the Chair of the Department of Information and Library Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research in social informatics focuses on the relationships between information technologies and cultural diversity, and the consequences and impacts of this interaction on group process and outcomes. She studies processes and outcomes of crowds, online communities, virtual teams, and information intermediation. In addition, her research addresses motivation for, perception of, and reaction to online deviant behaviors, such as trolling and discrimination. In addition to her five co-edited/authored books, her publications appeared for example in: Information and Management, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and Journal of Information Science. She earned her Ph.D. from the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2003.

Madelyn R. Sanfilippo, Indiana University, Bloomington
Madelyn Sanfilippo is a doctoral candidate in Information Science at Indiana University, Bloomington's School of Informatics and Computing. Madelyn is interested in the relationships between politics and information. Her work specifically addresses social and political issues surrounding information and information technology access; she considers the interaction between information policy and information technology as it impacts information access, from a social informatics perspective, in her dissertation.

Howard Rosenbaum, Indiana University, Bloomington
Howard Rosenbaum is Professor of Information Science in the Department of Information and Library Science and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. He has been at Indiana University since 1993 where he has been teaching courses in social informatics, digital entrepreneurship, information science, and intellectual freedom. He has won many awards for his innovative uses of technology in education, including the 2011 Thomson Reuters Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award. His research focuses on social informatics, e-business, and online communities, and he has published in a variety of information science journals and presented at ASIS&T, iConferences, and elsewhere. In 2005, he published "Information Technologies in Human Contexts: Learning from Organizational and Social Informatics" with Steve Sawyer and the late Rob Kling. With Pnina Fichman, he published an edited collection, "Social Informatics: Past, Present, and Future," in 2014. He has been involved in social informatics since 1997 and works with collaborators to raise the profile of SI in the information sciences.

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