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Preliminary Findings of the Inclusion of Document Retrieval Systems as Actors in a Social Network

Janet R. Macpherson

Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together @ ASIST '05 (ASIS&T 2005)
Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, October 28 - November 2, 2005


With this poster, the preliminary findings of dissertation research are presented where Social Network Analysis techniques are used and altered to include relationships with non-human actors, specifically document retrieval systems. With the importance of document retrieval systems being demonstrated by the attention they receive and the amount of money being spent on them within businesses, examining the relationships between actors in a social group and these systems makes sense and will present a clearer picture of the ties and movement of resources within groups. Surveys and semi-structured interviews administered to two small businesses provide the data for analysis. Standard social network analysis techniques and inductive content analysis are utilized to uncover how social network members feel about the inclusion of the document retrieval system as a peer. Preliminary findings indicate people are able to consider document retrieval systems as more than just an application. Conceptualizing these systems as peers appears to be a novel concept, but not one which is inconceivable. This study is an initial attempt at considering social networks in an expanded way, where non-human group members are considered.

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