An interdisciplinary field, technology and culture, or social informatics, is part of a larger body of socio-economic, socio-psychological, and cultural research that examines the ways in which technology and groups within society are shaped by social forces within organizations, politics, economics, and culture. Given the popularity and increased usage of technology, it is imperative that educators, trainers, consultants, administrators, researchers, and professors monitor the current trends and issues relating to social side of technology in order to meet the needs and challenges of tomorrow.
Social Information Technology: Connecting Society and Cultural Issues provides educators, trainers, consultants, administrators, researchers, and professors with a fundamental research source for definitions, antecedents, and consequences of social informatics and the cultural aspect of technology. This groundbreaking research work also addresses the major cultural/societal issues in social informatics technology and society such as the Digital Divide, the government and technology law, information security and privacy, cyber ethics, technology ethics, and the future of social informatics and technology, as well as concepts from technology in developing countries.
The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:
Reviews and TestimonialsThis book concerns itself with connecting social and cultural issues with our increasing use of information and communication technologies.
– Terry T. Kidd, Texas A&M University, USAThis work offers access into the complex overlapping territories of social informatics, information technology, and communication technology.
– Book News Inc. (August 2008)To sum up, the book provides insights to topics of interest in social informatics, including the digital divide, gender differences in the use of technology, privacy, security and copyright issues, the influence of technology on society, cultural aspects, the use of technology in education, Open Source and Web 2.0.
– Judit Bar-Ilan, Bar-Ilan University
This book communicates ideas of social information technology that are relevant to scholars and the information technology professional community. The contributing authors examine key thoughts of the field including educational issues. The text is divided into five major sections with a total of twenty four chapters. These chapter serves as a brief introduction to the themes and issues of social information technology. The reference section in each chapter includes numerous reference sources to help interested readers readily identify comprehensive sources and additional information. A brief description of the sections and chapters are as followed:
One key idea of social information technology research is that the social context of information technology development and its use plays in influencing the ways in which people use information and communication technologies, and how information and communication technologies affects the organizations, social and cultural relationships.
In this chapter, the author uses the philosophical lens of critical race theory (CRT) to shed light upon the vast inequalities in access to information technologies that exist among racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups; a phenomenon that has come to be known as the digital divide. The primary focus is on how the digital divide has played out for African Americans and the use of CRT to explain the history of inequalities and why significant differences in educational opportunities have persisted into the 21st century. The author adopts the term “analog divide” to refer to all the non-computer/telecommunications-based educational inequities that African Americans have experienced for decades and even centuries. She further purports that one cannot understand or begin to rectify the digital divide unless one is willing to fully confront and attack the problem of the analog divide that preceded it and continues to persist.
This chapter explores gender differences in three key areas: computer attitude, ability, and use. Past research (10-25 years ago) is examined in order to provide a framework for a more current analysis. Seventy-one studies and 644 specific measures are analysed with respect to overall patterns, time, education level, and context. Males and females are more similar than different on all constructs assessed, for most grade levels and contexts. However, males report moderately more positive affective attitudes, higher self-efficacy, and more frequent use. Females are slightly more positive about online learning and appear to perform somewhat better on computer-related tasks. The results must be interpreted with caution because of methodological limitations in many studies reviewed. Finally, a model is proposed to understand and address gender differences in computer-related behaviour.
Cities are technological artifacts. Since their massive proliferation during the industrial revolution and their transformation of sites for both physical and virtual connectivity during globalization, cities afford the possibility for propinquity through different interest groups and spaces including the distant-mobile relationships of a society where technology and movement predominates. This chapter will offer an overview of how technology is central to modern development, how technology has been conceptualized, and how virtual development (in terms of both access to the virtual world and the development of the infrastructure to provide this access) is yet another frontier best captured in the notion of technopolis and/or technocity as contextual factors that sustain social technologies. The pervasiveness of technology, the factors that affect the technological experience besides the rhetoric of infallibility and the taken-forgranted delivery of utility and efficiency will also be explored. By looking at the criticisms voiced against urban and virtual development about the loosening of social ties, I argue for a fluid interaction that considers the possibilities for additional and different, if not new social relations, that both physical and
virtual interactions afford to urbanites: technosociability. This technosociability should be considered in light of a critical reading of the contextual factors and conditions that support it.
The use of the Internet for civic engagement by the general public is becoming increasingly prevalent, yet research in this area is still sparse. More studies are particularly needed in the area of cross-cultural comparisons of online social movements or online peace movement organizations (PMOs). While it is possible that PMOs in diverse cultures differ in their collective action frames, it is unclear whether PMOs use collective action frames and, if so, how differently they are used. This chapter describes a comparative study that examined Web sites of PMOs in Japan and Israel. Collective action frame is used as a theoretical framework to analyze 17 Web sites, identifying the similarities and differences in the ways that online PMOs frame their activities. The findings indicate that these organizations employed various strategies to develop resonance, highlighting the importance of cultural resonance in framing online PMOs in different countries.
Organization theorist Lee Clarke (2005) argues when policy makers plan for disasters, they too often think in terms of past experiences and “probabilities.” Rather, policy makers, when planning to protect the infrastructure, should open their minds to worst-case scenarios; catastrophes that are possible but highly unlikely. Underpinned by a precautionary principle, such an approach to the infrastructure would be more likely to produce “out of the box” thinking and in so doing, reduce the impact of disasters that occur more frequently than people think. The purpose of this chapter is to consider the utility of Clarke’s worst-case planning by examining Y2K preparations at two US government agencies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The data concerning Y2K come mostly from official US government sources, interviews, and media analysis. The chapter concludes that the thoroughness of worst-case planning can bring much needed light to the subtlety of critical complex and interdependent systems. But such an approach can also be narrow in its own way, revealing some of the limitations of such a precautionary approach. It potentially rejects reasonable efforts to moderate risk management responses and ignores the opportunity costs of such exhaustive planning.
Section II emphasis the discussion of social information from the stand point of public policy and public affairs. Questions about the consequences of new technologies are often posed in a very black and white manner. For instance: What demographic of people are not participating In the voting process, and will e-voting rectify the situation? People expect a straightforward black and white answer. However, there are no clear-cut answers. It is important to get involved in public debates, because the debates about the social roles of technologies sometimes ignore relationships that are recognized as being very important by social analysts. This allows those with a vested interest to dominate public debate about technology, since the most powerful voices in debates about computerization are the designers, sellers, and government agencies directly involved. Computerization can raise questions about social choices and value conflicts, which the participants do not always seem to understand, thus the contribution of scholars is to articulate these social choices becomes scares.
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT Act) of 2001 has increased the surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement in the United States. While the Patriot Act serves to protect American society and interests abroad, critics suggest that it does not provide sufficient checks and balances to safeguard the civil liberties of U.S. citizens. This chapter assesses both of these claims: how the USA Patriot Act protects U.S. national security and through self-censorship over privacy concerns may affect sociopolitical and cultural diversity in cyberspace.
This chapter explores the extent to which selected writings of French philosopher Michel Serres and a health care model created by Brian Hodges in the UK can augment and inform the development of social informatics. The volume of Serres’ output contrasts markedly with work devoted to Hodges’ Health Career - Care Domains - Model. Since the concept of health is universal culturally, and informatics disciplines are emerging fields of practice characterised by indistinct boundaries in terms of theory, policy, and practice, various ethnographic and cultural associations will be made. Placing Hodges’ model and Serres’ work together is not intended to suggest direct equivalence, other than the common themes this author intends to bring to the attention of the social informatics community. Central to this is the notion of holistic bandwidth, utilising Hodges’ model as a tool to develop and disseminate sociotechnical perspectives.
Open source has, of late been discussed as a most significant institutional disruption to the way software and, indeed, digital content, in general, evolves and dissipates through society. Credits and their due redemption play a vital yet often underrated role in the development and dissemination of open source. While credits in open source development are often of a rather elusive and informal nature (goodwill, reputation, indirect effects), formal credits have their inevitable role, too. On the one hand, less formal kinds of credits than money and the like often provide for a relatively efficient and viable way of accounting for credits in the development of large and complex software and technology projects. On the other hand, at the intersection of developer communities with end users, there is a distinct need for formal money-based interactions, because informal contracts and credit redemption do work well in communities, but less so in anonymous market contexts.
For the past several years, a crisis over copyright and control of music distribution has been developing. The outcome of this crisis has tremendous implications not only for the fate of commercial and creative entities involved in music, but for the social reproduction of knowledge and culture more generally. Critical theories of technology are useful in addressing these implications. This chapter introduces the concept of “concretization” (Feenberg, 1999), and demonstrates how it can be mapped onto the field of current music technologies and the lives and work of the people using them. This reading of popular music technologies resonates strongly with themes arising out of current scholarship covering the crisis of copyright and music distribution. Reading music technology in this way can yield a lucid account of the diverse trajectories and goals inherent in heterogeneous networks of participants involved with music technologies. It can also give us not only a detailed description of the relations of various groups, individuals, and technologies involved in networks of music, but also a prescriptive program for the future maintenance and strengthening of a vibrant, perhaps less intensively commercialized, and radically democratized sphere of creative exchange.
The introduction of new technologies to accumulate large amounts of data has resulted in the need for new methods to secure organizational information. Current information security strategies tend to focus on a technology-based approach to securing information. However, this technology-based approach can leave an organization vulnerable to information security threats. Organizations must realize that information security is not necessarily a technology issue, but rather a social issue. Humans operate, maintain, and use information systems. Their actions, whether intentional or accidental, are the real threat to organizations. Information security strategies must be developed to address the social issue.
The use of electronic monitoring tools in the workplace has grown dramatically because of the availability of inexpensive but powerful monitoring systems and the wide use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in today’s workplace. However, existing research pays little attention to the pervasive use of electronic monitoring systems on ICT at work. This chapter draws theories in international and organizational cultures and concludes four hypotheses on privacy concerns of employees and their perceived trust to the management when being electronically monitored.
The effective use and infusion of Information technology (IT) can either increase or decrease the ‘digital divide’. Recent studies have indicated that the information technology investments have improved the productivity of national economies and organizations. As described in the four chapters included in this section, developing nations, such as Samoa, India, and New Zealand, have been able to leverage national development with advances in IT.
Information technology (IT) can either increase or decrease the ‘digital divide.’ Developing nations, such as Samoa, can leverage their economies with investment in IT, but investment is often determined by past information systems (IS) success. Exploratory research was conducted into the assessment and measurement of IS success by small and medium sized enterprises in Samoa, and the effect on IT investment. It was found that information quality, system quality, use, user satisfaction and financial impacts were the main dimensions according to which success was assessed, while intention to use, and cultural impacts were not usually assessed. Culture acted more as a moderator of the assessment. Measurements focused more on system related measures. Assessment on all dimensions impacted on future investment in IT.
This chapter discusses the deployment of e-learning technologies in the context of how they are helping towards preserving and disseminating knowledge on Indian cultural heritage. An analysis has also been offered as regards how the technologies like e-learning initiatives have their impact on sociocultural settings within Indian context. This chapter attempts to understand and frame Indian culture and experiences through ICT and e-learning practices, and how the differentiated learning needs of multicultural society can be addressed.
The New Zealand Family Court is an ideal public sector application for social informatics. In a study investigating ICT-assisted communications that was conducted with multiple court stakeholders, paradoxical results emerged. This research is positioned within a five-fold layered theoretical framework encompassing: private/public space; sense of self; emotional energies; digital citizenship; and Sawyer’s (2005) five common observations about research in the field of social informatics. This richly textured theoretical framework provides grounding for results within and across disciplines revealing deeply engrained behaviours, emotional states, customs, workplace cultures, and the problems associated with solving private problems in public spaces.
Purpose of the study is to examine one of the popular Internet access places, Internet cafés, in Turkey by focusing the missions of these places regarding gameplay, computer use, Internet use, and their roles in the society. In the study, 71 Internet cafés, existing in 8 different districts in Ankara, capital city of Turkey, were examined during 4 weeks. Data were collected by giving a questionnaire including demographic information about users and their Internet café habits. Internet café users’ observation patterns were reported while they were using Internet and playing computer games. Besides, interviews were conducted with volunteer usersin terms of their preferences,such assurfing, chatting, doing homework, or playing computer games, to collect deep information regarding aims of the research. Results of the study revealed that one of the main missions of the Internet cafés in the society is that they are seen as places for game play, because majority of the Internet café users preferred playing computer games. It was found that there are certain differences among café users from low and high socioeconomic districts and gender in terms of Internet café frequency, use habits, and use aims. In addition, parental control on Internet café use showed significant differences among café users. Although there are prejudices and negative considerations on Internet café use in the society, they are not harmful places to the majority of the participants
Information and communication technologies are potentially transformative. The changes in society have occurred because of the implementation of new and complex social networking software tools. There is great speculation concerning the changes that might arise in society when new social software technologies become widespread. In the past few years, researchers of social information technology have developed findings that are pertinent to understanding the development and operation of usable information systems, including intranets, electronic forums, digital libraries and electronic journals. The new Web 2.0 and wiki systems described in “Web Information Retrieval: Towards Social Information Search Assistants” and “Twin Wiki Wonders? Wikipedia and Wikibooks as Powerful Tools for Online Collaborative Writing” are also expected to work well for people and help support their work and collaboration, rather than make it more complicated.
Nowadays, the Web has become the most queried information source. To solve their information needs, individuals can use different types of tools or services like a search engine, for instance. Due to the high amount of information and the diversity of human factors, searching for information requires patience, perseverance, and sometimes luck. To help individuals during this task, search assistants feature adaptive techniques aiming at personalizing retrieved information. Moreover, thanks to the “new Web” (the Web 2.0), personal search assistants are evolving, using social techniques (social networks, sharing-based methods). Let us enter into the Social Web, where everyone collaborates with others in providing their experience, their expertise. This chapter introduces search assistants and underlines their evolution toward Social Information Search Assistants.
Web 2.0 technologies empower individuals to contribute thoughts and ideas rather than passively survey online content and resources. Such participatory environments foster opportunities for community building and knowledge sharing, while encouraging the creation of artifacts beyond what any single person could accomplish alone. In this chapter, we investigate the emergence and growth of two of such environments: the highly popular Wikipedia site and its sister project, Wikibooks. Wikipedia has grown out of trends for free and open access to Web tools and resources. While Wikipedians edit, contribute, and monitor distinct pieces of information or pages of documents, Wikibookians must focus on larger chunks of knowledge, including book modules or chapters as well as entire books. Several key differences between these two types of wiki environments are explored. In addition, surveys and interviews, conducted with Wikibookians, shed light on their challenges, frustrations, and successes.
One key area of social information technology is within the area of education. There is an increasing emphasis on the integration of information and communication technology to enhance the teaching and learning process within education. These effects are focused on the way in which participants interact with new technologies and how the technologies aid in reshaping the society in medium- and long-term use through better education and training. Social information technology is a sustained method in understanding educational and training issues in ways that do help improve the learning outcomes.
This chapter discusses how cultural variables can be taken into account when designing computer-based learning environments(CLEs). Its purpose is to identify concrete recommendations to guide instructional engineering of computer-based learning for diverse cultures through a review of the literature on the subject. First, this chapter describes the background in which such recommendations have emerged, and identifies some of the issues underlying instructional design for diverse cultures. Then it introduces models and guidelines on how cultural variables can be taken into account when designing CLEs. Specific recommendations are organized using a method of instructional engineering for CLEs called MISA (Paquette, 2003) as a frame of reference. This is followed by a discussion on future trends and future research directions.
Social Information Technology (SIT) can allow individuals, dispersed both in time and place, to connect via the Internet. Consequently, the use of online networks is very appealing to Continuing Professional Education (CPE) providers. However, our findings seem to have revealed an underlying reality overshadowed by this hype. Our experience, as both providers and researchers of online CPE to a range of healthcare workers, suggests that the reality of online networks is often far different from the planned learning objectives. In fact, we believe that learning in CPE must be assumed to be much more then the attainment of intangible concepts. Acquisition of static facts are useless if the learners do not have the understanding to apply them in apposite contexts and organisational settings. The use of new Web 2.0 approaches, such as social bookmarking and social networking, may well be an exciting potential development, but if busy professionals are to use SITs as an integral part of their daily personal and professional lives, further research into factors that facilitate and inhibit such usage is required.
Investigating and Encouraging Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Engagement amongst Student Nurses
Higher education institutions rely increasingly on information and communications technology (ICT) to provide learning opportunities. Written to support this enterprise, the Guidelines for Networked Learning in Higher Education (Goodyear & NLinHE Team, 2001) carefully blend theory and practice to provide a wealth of sound advice for course design teams. The focus is on “promoting connections” that directly relate to learning. However, in nursing, 6 years after the Guidelines were published, levels of students’ skills and engagement with ICT remain problematic, which undermines attempts to deploy networked learning. I argue that for such initiatives to succeed, other, more foundational connections need also to be promoted. I focus on some of the factors that contribute to student nurses’ ICT non-engagement: gender, caring, professional identity, and knowledge work. Finally, I explain how some of the barriers identified can be overcome through integrating ICT. HE programs can provide students with meaningful encounters with ICT in the different elements of a course: curriculum, teaching methods, and assessment, as well as informal learning through online forums. If successful, this integration can promote the students’ development of working knowledge in ICT, and increase the chances of their engagement in networked learning and evidence-based practice.
CompILE is a sociotechnical “comprehensive interactive learning environment” system for personal knowledge management and visualization that represents the growing collective knowledge an individual gathers throughout his or her lifespan. A network of intelligent agents connects the user and his or her inhabited knowledge space to external information sources and a multitude of fellow users. Following a brief perspective on educational technology, concepts of human-computer interaction, and a description of CompILE, this chapter will introduce CompILE as a sociotechnical system supported by an enriched design process. From an educational perspective, CompILE can bridge the digital divide by creating community, embracing culture, and promoting a learning society.
In this chapter, we describe an alternative to the cognitive and neo-behavioral views of learning that currently dominate the field of instructional design and development. Founded in the work of Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, this view questions the fundamental notions that the environment can actually be “instructive” and that instruction can be prescribed to change learners in predictable ways. Instead we offer a prescriptive model of instructional design, one that embeds the process in the basic foundation that learners are organizationally closed, structurally determined, and coupled with their environment. Instead of threatening the field of instructional design, as some writers have expressed, we argue that this approach actually “sets it free”!
Distributed universities that use technology to support a social mission are a new phenomenon reflecting changing demands on higher education and the availability of new, facilitative technologies. This chapter describes three different models of distributing education to achieve different social missions: a distance teaching university (The UK Open University), a multicampus higher education institute servicing remote and rural areas in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (UHI Millennium Institute), and a new university in Greece spread over five small islands (University of the Aegean). The chapter considers the different social missions and the ways in which the choice of technologies supports distributed teaching and research. International activities are also described and future trends considered. An initial typology for considering institutions of distributed learning is proposed.
In this chapter, we have analysed three main aspects of instructional design (online learning communities, learning styles, and digital games) on the basis of gender preferences. We have noted the visible differences between males and females when interacting with technology, and reviewed the available literature in these areas. The included survey, conducted on males and females with an average age of 21 years, highlights the preferences between genders when related to the use and playing of computer games. The resulting conclusions have been summarized to form part of the suggested guidelines for gender neutral and gender specific instructional design. It is hoped that with these guidelines, appropriate instructional design can open the area of learning equally to both sexes and foster equal participation of males and females in traditionally male-dominated topics.
As you have gleamed from the title, this book concerns itself with connecting social and cultural issues with our increasing use of information and communication technologies.
History has showns that the introduction of any significant innovation is followed by a period during interest, assessment, adoption, use and then a period of non use. After the initial period of saturation and use, the new technology can now be considered assimilated into ones society and culture.
The topic of social information technology has received an immense amount of coverage in recent years, with the media, law enforcers, and governments worldwide all doing their bit to bring the issue to our attention. For those unfamiliar with the term, the concept of social informatics is the study of information and communication tools in cultural, or institutional contexts (Kling, Rosenbaum, & Sawyer, 2005). A more formal definition given by the past Rob Kling from the Center for Social Informatics at the Indiana University indicates that social information technology is "the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses and consequences of information technologies that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts" (Kling, 2000).
Social information technology is broad and transdisciplinary. It is a field that is defined by its topic and fundamental questions raised by researchers. To understand the significance of the technology, society, and culture, it is important to appreciate the context in which they exist. The contextuality of social information technology looks at the larger framework of which technology development as it relates to the over framework of culture and society. Social information technology focuses on the economic, technological, social, cultural, educational and organizational conditions. Social information technology investigates the relations between systems development on the one hand, and decision making, power structures, legislation, learning effects, organisational aspects, media influence on the other. However, social information technology takes careful consideration to specify contexts and situations.
The key word of social information technology is relevance, ensuring that technological innovations are socially-driven rather than technology-driven. Design and implementation processes need to be relevant to the actual social dynamics of a given aspect of social practice, and the substance of design and implementation need to be relevant to the lives of the people they affect.
This book helps make these ideas accessible to non-specialists, as well as to strengthen communication among specialists, and to strengthen the dialogs between communities of designers and social analysts.
Terry T. Kidd received his doctoral education training from the Texas A&M University and has previous graduate training in information systems, human resources development, and instructional technology. Kidd has presented at international conferences on designing technology rich learning environments, technology adoption and diffusion, and issues dealing with faculty and staff development. His research interests include e-learning and ICT innovation and its diffusion within an educational and community context to support teaching, learning, and human capital development. Kidd is an experienced educator, consultant, and researcher in the field. He is the editor of the Handbook of Research on Instructional Systems Technology; the Handbook of Research on Technology Project Management, Planning, and Operations; Social Information Technology: Connecting Society and Cultural Issues; and Wired for Learning: An Educators Guide to Web 2.0.
Irene Chen received her Doctor of Education in Instructional Technology from University of Houston in 1998. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Education at the University of Houston Downtown. Dr. Chen has diverse professional experiences. Previously, she is instructional technology specialist, learning technology coordinator, and computer programmer/analyst. She has taught numerous graduate and undergraduate courses in instructional technology and curriculum & instruction, and delivered many K-12 in-service training and professional development activities for university staff and faculty members.
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