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Empowering users: Cultures and conflicts from Social Informatics perspectives [sponsored by SIG USE]

Kristin Eschenfelder,; Noriko Hara,; Bin Li,; Brendan Luyt,; Pnina Shachaf,; Barbara Wildemuth,

Presented at ASIST 2004 Annual Meeting; "Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts" (ASIST AM 04), Providence, Rhode Island, November 13 - 18, 2004


There are often conflicting views and research findings as to the process and effect of the development, implementation and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in society. Many times, this is caused by the false assumptions ICT developers have about users. As a corrective to this situation, social informatics research challenges the notion that ICT is a neutral and fixed object; instead, it investigates how developers and users embed interests, biases, and beliefs into ICT, and explores the effects of these embedded biases on use or effects of ICT. This panel aims to provide empirical studies that examine, from multiple perspectives, the interests, beliefs or assumptions of different actors concerning ICT. A focus on the political aspect of ICT implementation and deployment is taken here, one among the many approaches used in Social Informatics research. The panel consists of researchers with diverse backgrounds. They will explore the following topics:

* How intellectual property owners and consumers differ in their views of, and reactions to, digital rights management systems and the hacking of such systems. * How the notion of e-government has been articulated as a means to achieve political legitimacy, and * How the Internet is used for the understanding of Middle-East conflicts

One of the strengths of using the Social Informatics perspectives is that it provides an understanding of ICTs use in social and political networks. In the present panel, we will have presentations of research that addresses users’ perspectives on the employment and effects of ICT, followed by responses. The participants are then given discussion questions to debate in small groups. The audience as well as the panelists as a whole group will discuss issues, conflicts, and insights on user empowerment for the field of information science.

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