5th Annual Social Informatics Research Symposium

The 5th Annual Social Informatics Research Symposium (SIG SI, co-sponsored by SIG-CRIT)
People, information, technology: The social analysis of computing in a diverse and pluralistic world.

Saturday, November 7, 2009, 8:30-12:30 PM; Hyatt Regency Vancouver

The purpose of this ASIST preconference research symposium is to disseminate current research and research in progress that investigate the social aspects of information and communications technologies (ICT) across all areas of ASIST.  The symposium includes members of many SIGs and defines “social” broadly to include critical and historical approaches as well as contemporary social analysis. It also defines “technology” broadly to include traditional technologies  (i.e., paper), state-of-the-art computer systems, and mobile and pervasive devices.

This year’s theme is “People, information, technology: The social analysis of computing in a diverse and pluralistic world” In keeping with the theme of the conference, the symposium is soliciting work that focuses on the mutual shaping of people and information as mediated by ICTs. 

We are pleased to announce that the keynote address at this year’s symposium will be given by Dr. Steve Sawyer, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University.

According to Horton, Davenport, and Wood-Harper (2005; 52) “the impetus for researchers to consider both social and technical aspects as mutually constitutive as a means of understanding technology introduction and use has a growing audience.” This symposium will highlight research focusing on the social realities of ICT-based information systems (broadly defined) in information science in order to better understand the following:

~ How do difference and diversity shape design, implementation, use, disuse, and reconfiguration of information and ICTs where groups, and organizations work and play in a global environment?

~ In what ways do information and ICTs shape those creating, implementing and using them? How does this vary across cultures? How may such difference be managed in global interactions?

~ What can we learn about information and ICT and ongoing social and cultural change at different levels of social analysis such as groups, organizational units, political entities or cultural systems? Can we harmonize our insights?

~ How may we explore the complex reciprocal relationships among information, ICT, people, groups and the social and cultural environments that surround and pervade them?

~ What are the variations in meanings or interpretations of information and ICT across social groups, organizations, and cultures?

~ What are the moral obligations of ICT system development and use particularly in global communication networks and what are the consequences for diverse ethnic groups?

We are particularly interested in work that assumes a critical stance towards the notion of difference – what is involved in the subtle interplay between people’s uses of information and ICT and the increasingly diverse and global environments in which they are immersed? Critical analyses are useful because they “bring into question established social assumptions and values regarding information and … ICTs and established understandings of  ‘information,’ particularly as they play themselves out and are institutionalized in social and professional discourses and professional training.” (Day, 2007; 575).

We encourage all scholars, both beginning and established, interested in social aspects of ICT (broadly defined) to share their research and research in progress by submitting an extended abstract of their work and attending the symposium.

Following last year’s successful symposium, SIG SI will partner again with SIG USE to offer a comprehensive full day program. The theme of this symposium fits well with the main themes of the SIG USE symposium, “Collaborative Information Seeking and Sharing,” meaning that there would be a full day of exploration of the question of the transformative relationships between people, information, and ICTs from different but clearly related perspectives. The SIG SI symposium will take place on Saturday morning and the SIG USE symposium will be in the afternoon. Collectively, the two sessions can offer a comprehensive full day program, although each is a stand-alone event. The two SIGs will co-sponsor a networking lunch [Pay-on-your-own] that will take place in between the two events There will be a discount for people who register for both symposia.*

Call for papers and posters:

Submit a short paper (2000 words) or poster (500 words) by September 4, 2009.

Submissions may include empirical, critical and theoretical work, as well as richly described practice cases and demonstrations.

Acceptance announcements made by September 20, in time for conference early registration (ends Sept 25, 2009).

Tentative Schedule

Paper presentations: 8:30-10:45 AM
Break: 10:45-11:00 AM (with poster viewing)
Paper presentations: 11:00:11:45 AM
Closing Keynote: 11:45-12:30 PM
Lunch with SIG-USE: 12:30-1:30 PM


Members $75, non-members $85, before Sept. 25, 2009

Members $85, non-members $95, after Sept. 25, 2009

*If you register for the SIG-SI Symposium and the SIG-USE Symposium you will receive a $10 discount:


Howard Rosenbaum, School of Library and Information Science -Indiana  University

Elisabeth Davenport, Visiting Scholar, Indiana University and Professor Emeritus, School of Computing, Napier University

Pnina Shachaf, School of Library and Information Science -Indiana  University

Kalpana Shankar, School of Informatics -Indiana University

Day, R. (2007). Kling and the “critical”: Social informatics and  critical informatics. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 58(4): 575-582.

Horton, K., Davenport, E. and Wood-Harper, T. (2005). Exploring sociotechnical interaction with Rob Kling: five “big” ideas. Information Technology & People 18(1): 50-67

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