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iSchool Proposal for Themed Wildcard Session on New Information Systems Methods

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Title: iSchool Proposal for Themed Wildcard Session on New Information Systems Methods
Author(s): Star, Susan Leigh; Jirotka, Marina; Whalen, Jack; Calvert, Scout
Subject(s): methods assessment STS
Abstract: ‘New Information Systems’ is an emerging field composed of social studies of science (STS), information sciences (IS), workplace studies and technological design, and new media forms such as cyberinfrastructure or eResearch. Within this area we are exploring the connections and inter-relationships between empirical studies of information at knowledge creation and use, and methods from more traditional IS, social networks, grounded theory and ethnomethodology. The collective creation of a theoretically driven cluster at this juncture would tie us together in a convergence that would link our scholarship and enable students to access this strong and existing - yet invisible - college. We propose a “wildcard” session here that makes a space for people to speak about their methods, assess their viability for helping to build our emerging community, and hopefully to explore the “behind the scenes” actions associated with practicing any methods. Such an event is most timely. At the recent meetings of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), an entire day was devoted to the emerging intersections of STS and IS. In addition it should be noted that the same book, Memory Practices in the Sciences (G. Bowker, MIT Press, 2007), won the best book award at both ASIST and 4S. This might be seen as a harbinger for the deeply theoretical and methodological work that is to take place, if the intersection is to be a robust one. Our research directions will be focused on studies of infrastructure, ethical actions that are inscribed into IS, and theoretical studies of questions such as ‘what is useful information’? We need to unpack the contextual nature of knowledge creation and use. As well, we need to understand the ways in which it is entangled with obligations from different domains and communities of practice such as privacy, consent, anonymity, confidentiality, ownership and a whole host of organizational and professional matters. New media studies point to an intense overlapping and interrelationship of fields and disciplines. Methods should come from a combination of (1) sensitivity to the historical moment (e.g., multiculturalism, extreme changes in the meaning of ‘global’); (2) an assemblage of tools that are ready to hand, theoretically driven, are pleasant and effective to use; and (3) embody an ethical commitment to the values and meanings of those who are being studied (emic), within a way to explore the conventions, standards and infrastructures that both constrain and enable their experiences (etic). The papers here aim to show a range of approaches from the current STS, IS and Workplace Studies emergence that speak to the criteria detailed above. Each participant in the experiemntal forum will bring an example of their research, and as honestly as possible, assess its methodological strengths and weaknesses. The assessment will be relative to strengthening the development of the iSchool community, to the intersections noted above, and to the welfare of respondents.
Issue Date: 2008-02-28
Genre: Conference Paper / Presentation
Type: Text
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/15170
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-03-11
 

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