Author Archives: Social Informatics Blog

Why I Am Suing the Government

Social Media Collective

(or: I write scripts, bots, and scrapers that collect online data)

I never thought that I would sue the government. The papers went in on Wednesday, but the whole situation still seems unreal. I’m a professor at the University of Michigan and a social scientist who studies the Internet, and I ran afoul of what some have called the most hated law on the Internet.

Others call it the law that killed Aaron Swartz. It’s more formally known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the dangerously vague federal anti-hacking law. The CFAA is so broad, you might have broken it. The CFAA has been used to indict a MySpace user for adding false information to her profile, to convict a non-programmer of “hacking,” to convict an IT administrator of deleting files he was authorized to access, and to send a dozen FBI agents to…

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Why Radical Academics Often Find it Hard to Write, and What to Do about It

Anne Bonny Pirate

blank piece of paperJonathan Neale

This post will be of interest to only some of our readers. But we hope it will be very useful for them.

It is not easy to be both an academic and an activist. The values, the audiences and the constraints are different. Sitting down to write, you can feel yourself pulled in two different ways. The result is often muddled thinking and murky prose. There is too much ranting for an academic audience, and too much gobbledygook for the movement. In many cases, there is no prose at all, only silence, and pages crumpled in the wastebasket or erased on the screen.

The first half of this post offers some advice that can make writing easier, faster and more useful. The second half explains why universities make activists feel stupid, how they do it, and how you can cope.

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The OKCupid data release fiasco: It’s time to rethink ethics education

Social Media Collective

In mid 2016, we confront another ethical crisis related to personal data, social media, the public internet, and social research. This time, it’s a release of some 70,0000 OKCupid users’ data, including some very intimate details about individuals. Responses from several communities of practice highlight the complications of using outdated modes of thinking about ethics and human subjects when considering new opportunities for research through publicly accessible or otherwise easily obtained data sets (e.g., Michael Zimmer produced a thoughtful response in Wired and Kate Crawford pointed us to her recent work with Jacob Metcalf on this topic). There are so many things to talk about in this case, but here, I’d like to weigh in on conversations about how we might respond to this issue as university educators.

The OKCupid case is just the most recent of a long list of…

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Sexual harassment at international ICT events: a call for action

Tim Unwin's Blog

I have become increasingly saddened and dismayed in recent years at the level of sexual harassment, and what I see as inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour by a surprising number of men at the ICT conferences and exhibitions convened by some international organisations.  This ranges from generally loutish actions by some groups of young men, to what can only be called predatory behaviour by some older and more senior figures in the sector.  Until the last couple of years, I had thought that such behaviour had largely disappeared, but from what I have witnessed myself, from what I have heard from women in the sector, and from what I have read, it is clear that action needs to be taken urgently by all those in the sector, and particularly those who are organising conferences and events.

ITU maleThe ICT industry has for far too long been dominated by men, much to its…

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2014 is finally here for the Social Informatics Blog!

Hello After a nice winter break, the Social Informatics Blog is back, and we bring great news: we have new brilliant brains among us! Padma Chirumamilla, Ammar Halabi, Paula Mate, Philip Reed and Madelyn Sanfilippo are joining our team of core authors. We are very excited to have this diverse team on board and looking forward to their posts. Here is more information about our new members. Welcome everyone!

BioPhotoMadelyn Sanfilippo is a doctoral student in Information Science at the School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington. She received a Master of Information Science (MIS) degree from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she studied Political Science, Spanish, International Studies, and Environmental Studies. Madelyn is interested in the relationship between social inequality and information inequality. Her work addresses social and political issues surrounding information and information technology access; she plans to specifically consider the interaction between information policy and information technology in the domain of government information, from a social informatics perspective. Website: http://ils.indiana.edu/faculty/spotlight/index.php?facid=301
philip-rioPhilip studies how information technology helps (or otherwise affects) people in low-income countries and communities, both in economic and noneconomic ways. He is a second year PhD student at the University of Washington Information School.
chirumamilla_padmaPadma is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, studying under Finn Brunton (who’s now at NYU Steinhardt) and Joyojeet Pal. Her current interests lie somewhere within the histories of media, science and technology (especially considered from a critical postcolonial perspective); theories of everyday life and temporality, material culture and anthropology, STS studies, and ICTD.
Ammar_avatarAmmar Halabi examines the role of Internet tools and social media in local communities in Syria. He is currently a PhD student in Informatics at the University of Fribourg, where he takes an ethnographic approach to study how community members communicate, collaborate, and organize themselves. Ammar also holds an MSc in HCI Design from Indiana University Bloomington, and a BSc in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Aleppo in Syria. In his previous work he has been involved with international development organizations and in local volunteer communities. Ammar currently focuses on the design and implementation of online tools that facilitate collaboration and self-management of local communities, and especially those located in Syria.
paulamatePaula Mate is a PhD student in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. She is specializing in Social Informatics.  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paula-mate/31/954/661

Social Informatics: The Basis for Informatics Systems Implementation in Healthcare Today

By Grant Webb

Many people don’t automatically think of the human element when they think of technology, but people and technology can’t help but influence each other. This mutual influence, which forms the basis of the field of social informatics, can be seen in the way that we use technology and the way that technology shapes our daily lives. Social informatics involves the study of information and communication tools in cultural or institutional contexts. Specifically, it examines the social aspects of computerization and its role in social and organizational change as well as how social practices influence information technology.

One of the most important contexts for social informatics is healthcare. Historically, healthcare has been a paper-intensive industry as practitioners kept printed copies of patient records and created written orders for tests and medications. Perhaps due to habit or possibly due to mistrust or unfamiliarity with computers, many healthcare professionals continued to rely on paper-based systems long after computerization gained wide acceptance and usage within the field.

One significant problem with paper-based systems is the lack of consistency in how records are filled out and maintained and how long they are stored. Individual doctors, nurses and other providers often have their own way in which they record notes and update patient records, even those who hold the same job title within the same institution. Thus, records differ from doctor to doctor, nurse to nurse and facility to facility, which introduces inconsistency and fosters miscommunication. These differences can also lead to a variety of errors that can negatively affect patients.

In addition to the differences in the ways that individuals keep records, manual record-keeping typically introduces a significant amount of human error, which also increases medical errors. Medical errors can range from relatively minor impacts, such as ordering unneeded diagnostic tests, to major impacts that can put a patient’s life at risk. At the point in which a provider’s personal social informatics habits, as related to patient record-keeping, conflict with those of other providers, paper-based systems then become detrimental to patients’ wellbeing. Discrepancies inherent in paper systems can also inhibit information sharing, collaboration and the expansion of collective knowledge.

As a result of various medical errors over the years, the Federal government has mandated that healthcare providers implement electronic health records by January of 2014. This mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, represents a drastic change for the healthcare field in an effort to reduce medical errors and streamline healthcare delivery and has increased the breadth of health informatics job offerings as a result. The electronic health record requirement has prompted many healthcare providers to abandon social informatics based on manual record keeping. In turn, this increasing implementation of electronic health records has led to the rapid expansion of health informatics.

Health informatics combines information technology, health science information and patient data to enhance and support clinical care, health services, administration, research and education while helping to contain costs and increase efficiency. Health informatics relies heavily on healthcare information technologies, such as electronic health records, computerized physician order entry and decision support systems but the implementation of these technologies is only as good as the people who use them. Management, clinicians and health information technology staff often assume that healthcare information technologies will deliver the results promised by vendors. As a result, they may unintentionally overlook the impact of interactions between new technologies and the existing sociotechnical environment. In the same manner, those who take for granted that technology will improve things may underestimate the contributions of clinical judgment and interaction with patients.

Healthcare providers are often quick to blame undesirable consequences and implementation failures on new technology. In reality, although technical issues are sometimes at the root of the problem, negative outcomes of healthcare information technology more often stem from the providers themselves due to differences between the new technology and the existing social and technical systems.

Health informatics can help pinpoint changes needed to existing social informatics such as workflows, culture and technology, to minimize negative outcomes and maximize the benefits of healthcare information technology. These benefits include improved patient safety, increased positive patient outcomes and greater levels of efficiency.

Grant Webb is an SEO Specialist at Bisk Education

http://www.bisk.com/

We’re back… and with new brilliant minds!

Hello all!

After a nice summer break, the Social Informatics Blog is back, and we bring great news! Lynn Dombrowski and Shad Gross is joining our team of core authors! We are very excited to have them on board and looking forward to their posts. Here is more information about our new members. Welcome Lynn and Shad!

 Lynn Dombrowski
Lynn Dombrowski is a third year doctoral student at the University of California in Irvine in Informatics. Broadly she is interested in social informatics, human computer interaction, and design. Her research topics pertain to exploring how agency, control, and politics manifest in sociotechnical systems and exploring the practical concerns surround issues of access and use of technologies. Currently she’s working on three research projects. First, her work investigates the role of nonprofits in assisting their low-income clients in gaining access to and use of social services and the underlying technologies of social services. Second, her work explores changes in the social relations between the social services and an ecology of stakeholders, including citizens and nonprofits, when new technologies and practices are adopted by the social services. Third, she thinks about how design might better serve communities by encouraging the creation of communal and social capacities to help ensure healthy and successful communities. Website: www.lynndombrowski.com
Shad GrossShad Gross is first year PhD student in Informatics at Indiana University Bloomington, with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction. His undergraduate degree is in Studio Art from the college of Wooster, with a focus on photography and drawing and has previously worked as a graphic designer, videographer, and developer. His current work focuses on two threads: how material is used in digital devices as part of a communication process and the ways that behavior in virtual worlds relates to behavior in real life. The former has involved using perspectives from material culture and media studies to examine tangible interactions as a communicative process between designer and user. The latter has involved examining the current ways virtual worlds are studied and how this relates to games as related to, but also distinct from, real life. Ultimately, his goal is to combine these, and other, forms of meaning-making into a greater concept of rituals of digital technology, and investigate what this implies for design and use. When not tackling that, he still likes to take photos and generally mess around with graphic design. Website: http://www.shadgross.com

Call for papers – Internet Research 13.0: Technologies

The 13th Annual International and Interdisciplinary Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR)

http://ir13.aoir.org/


October 18-21, 2012

MediaCity:UK – University of Salford
Salford – Greater Manchester – UK

Internet Research 13.0 will focus on the theme of technologies, understood in the broadest sense as crafts, techniques, and systems. The conference will examine the place of the Internet in the contemporary world and in relation to a range of existing and emerging technologies, considering its impact in a context where life is entangled with technologies of all kinds as never before. The conference will bring together scholars, researchers, students and practitioners from many disciplines to map and situate the development of the Internet as part of the history of human technology.

To this end, we call for papers, panel and pre-conference workshop proposals from any discipline, methodology, community or a combination of them that address the conference themes, including, but not limited to, papers that intersect and/or interconnect with the following:

  • the speed and acceleration of technological change
  • 
the past, present and future of technology
  • emerging and converging technologies
  • educational technology
  • cultures of crafting
  • connectivity and access
  • space, location and mobile technologies
  • technology, networks and attachments
  • 
technology and the body
  • 
technologies of the self
  • technology, regulation and ethics

Sessions at the conference will be established that specifically address the conference themes, and we welcome innovative, exciting, and unexpected takes on those themes. We also welcome submissions on topics that address social, cultural, political, legal, aesthetic, economic, and/or philosophical aspects of the internet beyond the conference themes. In all cases, we welcome disciplinary and interdisciplinary submissions as well as international collaborations from both AoIR and non-AoIR members.

Deadlines

  • 

Submissions Due: 1 March 2012 (Papers, Panels and Pre-Workshops. Details below.)
  NOTE: The submission deadline is a HARD DEADLINE; there will be NO extensions to this date.
  • Notification: 1 May 2012
  • Full Papers Submissions Due for inclusion in Selected Papers of IR: 1 July 2012
  • Ignite-IR Final Proposal Deadline: 1 August 2012
  • Ignite-IR Slides Due: 15 September 2012

Assistant/Associate Professor: Social Media/Social Computing Research

Social Media/Social Computing Research

Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media

Michigan State University

The Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media (TISM) at Michigan State University invites applications for a tenure stream faculty position in the area of social media/social computing at either the assistant or associate professor level. We seek a scholar whose research addresses social media and/or social computing practices, applications, or effects. An interest in mobile applications of social media is desirable. Teaching duties will include graduate and undergraduate courses in information and communication technologies and social media. The ability to teach courses in research methods, interactive media design, and/or human computer interaction is also desired.

Successful assistant professor candidates will have peer-reviewed works to their credit and demonstrate promise of obtaining external funding to support their research. Associate professor candidates will have a track record of successful grant seeking and have averaged two peer-reviewed publications per year over several years. We encourage individuals from a diverse range of disciplinary and methodological traditions to apply. A PhD in a relevant discipline should be completed prior to the start of the appointment, expected to be August of 2012.

The TISM department is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary faculty internationally renowned for their cutting-edge research on the uses and implications of information and communication technologies. Our curricula address both the theoretical and practical aspects of media use, and our alumni have achieved positions of prominence in industry, government, and academia. Projects involving cross-disciplinary teams are actively pursued and encouraged. Current research foci of the department include social media, human computer interaction, digital games, ICT for development, e-commerce, communication economics and policy, the adoption and impacts of new media, and content design.

Please direct any questions to Professor Nicole Ellison, Search Committee Chair, Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies & Media at Michigan State University, at nellison@msu.edu. To apply, please refer to Posting 5233 and complete an electronic submission at the Michigan State University Employment Opportunities website https://jobs.msu.edu. Applicants should submit electronically the following materials: (1) a cover letter summarizing your qualifications for the position, (2) a current vita, and (3) the names and contact information for three individuals willing to serve as recommenders, who may be contacted by the search committee. The search committee will begin considering applications November 1, 2011. The search closes when a suitable candidate is hired. Duties begin on August 16, 2012. An earlier appointment is possible.

MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. MSU is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, veterans and persons with disabilities.

Faculty Search in Social Informatics

The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) at Indiana University Bloomington is accepting faculty applications for a position at any level in Social Informatics (SI), defined as the field of study that seeks to understand how the computational sciences and digital technologies shape society and human experience, and how society and culture, in turn, shape the development of science and technology.

We are especially interested in senior applicants who are internationally recognized leaders in SI and can help us develop the program further by building on our existing strengths in social studies of computing, in which they should have a strong research and teaching profile.

The successful senior candidate should also have interest in at least one additional area of social informatics in which we are active (organizational informatics, social media and Internet research, policy, or social computing). We are also interested in junior applicants who can move the social studies of computing in new directions to take it beyond analytical critique and toward the design and development of new technologies.

The position will begin in Fall 2012. Additional information on the SoIC and Bloomington, and application requirements and submission instructions, are available at http://hiring.soic.indiana.edu/.

To receive full consideration applications must be received by November 15, 2011. Inquiries can be directed to John Paolillo (Assoc. Prof. Informatics), SI Search Committee chair (paolillo@indiana.edu)

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