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

Critical informatics: New methods and practices

Miriam E. Sweeney1, Andre Brock2
Univeristy of Alabama, United States of America; 2University of Michigan, United States of America

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2:00pm


While social informatics (SI) is uniquely positioned to examine the technical and organizational properties of information and communication technology (ICT) and associated user practices, it often ignores the cultural mediation of design, use, and meaning of ICTs. Critical informatics, more so than normative and analytic orientations to ICT, offers possibilities to foreground culture as a sensitizing context for studying information and technology in society. This paper articulates a new critical informatics approach: critical technocultural discourse analysis (CTDA) as an analysis employing critical cultural frameworks (e.g. critical race or feminist theory) to jointly interrogate culture and technology. CTDA (Brock 2009) is a bifurcated approach for studying Internet phenomena integrating interface analysis with user discourse analysis. This paper outlines CTDA, providing examples of how its methodological flexibility applies to examining varied ICT artifacts, such as twitter and search engine phenomena, while maintaining a critical perspective on design and use. CTDA is an important tool for critical informaticists that contributes to building understanding of technology as culture, grounded in user perspectives and real-world practices.