ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

The Social Shaping of Cloud Computing: An Ethnography of Infrastructure in East St. Louis, Illinois

Colin Rhinesmith
University of Oklahoma, United States of America

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 8:30am


This paper presents findings from an ethnographic study of cloud computing in a human services organization in East St. Louis, Illinois. Previous social informatics studies have focused on the impact of computerization on urban welfare organizations. This research instead uses a “social shaping of technology” perspective to investigate the ways in which broader social, political, and economic forces shape cloud computerization and its consequences within a nonprofit organization that administers government-funded social welfare programs. The findings illustrate how the infrastructural tensions between external stakeholder demands and internal organizational needs significantly influenced a software as a service implementation project. In presenting this infrastructural analysis, I seek to fill a gap in the literature on the social shaping of cloud computing and its consequences in U.S. industrial suburbs, such as East St. Louis, where high rates of poverty exist.