ASIS&T SIG SI has held 14 annual Social Informatics Research Symposiums at ASIS&T Annual Meetings. The purpose of the symposiums is to disseminate and discuss current research and research in progress that investigate the social aspects of information and communication technologies (ICT) across all areas of ASIS&T. Building on previous success, the symposiums include members of many SIGs and define “social” broadly to include critical and historical approaches as well as contemporary social analysis. We also define “technology” broadly to include traditional technologies (i.e., paper), state-of-the-art computer systems, and mobile and pervasive devices.
Submissions for the symposiums may include empirical, critical and theoretical work, as well as richly described practice cases and demonstrations. Submissions are encouraged from all scholars interested in social aspects of ICT (broadly defined), allowing them to share their research and research in progress via an extended abstract of their work and a presentation as part of the symposium. Papers, panels, and posters are normally accepted, with deadlines falling 2-3 months before the ASIS&T Annual Meeting. The symposiums are also the venue for the presentation of the best social informatics paper awards for each year.
2018 (November 10th, Vancouver, Canada): “Sociotechnical perspective on ethics and governance of emerging information technologies”
The 2018 symposium focused on the emergence and fast-paced development of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, and embedded and ubiquitous computing present myriad forms of opportunities and challenges. For example, the increasing role of AI in autonomous systems (e.g., self-driving cars or production robots) and the role of social media in disseminating misinformation have created anxieties in our society ranging from discussions about safety, job security, and the future of democracy. Understanding the impacts of emerging technologies requires a multidisciplinary, sociotechnical approach; accordingly, this line of investigation must inevitably engage with major questions regarding sustainability, privacy, human agency, equity, and the ethics and governance of information technologies. Our keynote speaker was Mary Gray from Microsoft. Authors and presenters included Elliott Hauser, Howard Rosenbaum, Pnina Fichman, Kayla Hilstob, Muhammad Abdul-Mageed, Janice Mattern, Heather Lea Moulaison, Theresa Anderson, Denice Adkins, Jenny Bossaller, Loni Hagen, Stephen Neely, Keller Thomas, Ryan Scharf, Luanne Freund, Jay Park, Ali Alshehri, and Muhammad Abdul-Mageed, Rachel Simons, and best paper award winners: Kenneth R. Fleischmann, James Kuhr, Samuel Baker, Chandra Bhat, Tanya Clement, Junfeng Jiao, Matthew Lease, Peter Stone, Sharon Strover,
and William Tierney.
2017 (October 28th, Crystal City, VA): “The Social Informatics of Knowledge”
The 2017 symposium focused on how we can better explain knowledge practices by looking at the connections between people and technologies, which we have elsewhere called ‘examining the hyphen’ in the socio-technical sphere (Meyer, 2014) that represents the connections of the social to the technical. Interested participants are also encouraged to look at Kling’s foundational paper on the nature of the entanglement between the social and the technical in which he wrote that social informatics is “the interdisciplinary study of the design, uses and consequences of information technologies that takes into account their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts” (Kling, 2007, p. 205).
2015 (November 7th, St. Louis, MO): “The Impacts of Social Informatics Research”
The 2015 symposium (view full schedule) took our SIG SI symposiums into their second decade with particular focus on the impact of social informatics work on industry, government, local/national/global community groups, individuals, information systems, and other practice contexts. This was in keeping with the ASIS&T 2015 theme, “Information Science with Impact: Research in and for the Community.” Authors and presenters included Jonathan P. Allen, Theresa Anderson, best paper award winner Mary Chayko, Kaitlyn Costello, John D. Martin III, Natalie Pang, and Abdul Roman. A panel was also presented on how to develop IT education in iSchools following social informatics sensibilities, consisting of Marcia Mardis, Ken Fleischmann, Susan Winter, Larry Dennis, and Flora McMartin.
2014 (November 1st, Seattle, WA): “Connecting (Epistemic) Cultures and (Intellectual) Communities”
The 2014 symposium (view full schedule) celebrated a decade of successful and vibrant SIG SI Research Symposiums, gathering to celebrate a decade of intellectually challenging and engaging work in SI. The goal remained the same as every year: to disseminate current research and research in progress that investigates the social aspects of information and communication technologies (ICT) across all areas of ASIS&T. The 2014 conference theme was “Connecting Collections, Cultures, and Communities”; in keeping with this theme, the symposium included presentations of research focusing on the question of understanding and analyzing connections between social informatics and cognate epistemic cultures and intellectual communities from a social informatics perspective. Authors and presenters included Wayne Buente, EunJeong Cheon, Joe Greene, Tamara Heck, Asen O. Ivanov, Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi, Luz Quiroga, Hyejin Park, and Min Sook Park. A panel session on social informatics and epistemic cultures also took place, featuring Caroline Haythornthwaite, Robert Mason, and Howard Rosenbaum, moderated by Pnina Fichman. The panel included sustained discussion among the panelists and attendees of the current and future state of the social informatics community in relation with its close cognates. The symposium concluded with presentations of the best social informatics paper awards for 2013, awarded to Nama Budhathoki, Caroline Haythornthwaite, Gal Oestreicher-Singer, and Lior Zalmanson. Additional information from Budhathoki on Kathmandu Living Labs’ work on social and crowd engagement was made available in association with the symposium.
2013 (November 2nd, Montreal, QC, Canada): “The Social Informatics of Information Boundaries”
The 2013 symposium (view full schedule) included a keynote by William Jones of the University of Washington, the presentation of research papers and posters, and the presentation of awards for the best social informatics papers of 2012. Dr. Jones’s keynote was titled “Towards Places of Our Own for Digital Information: Constructing Roads and Walls on the Web,” and discussed issues of blurred boundaries in personal information management online, considering the need for both “walls” and “roads.” Papers and posters similarly focused on the roles of boundaries, especially around and of information, from a social informatics perspective. Paper presenters included Natalia Grincheva, Sydneyeve Matrix, Eric Meyer, Colin Rhinesmith, Madelyn Sanfillipo, and Adam Worrall; posters were presented by Shuheng Wu and Ingrid Erikson. The symposium concluded with presentations by the authors of the two award-winning papers for 2013, Monica Garfield, Alan Dennis, and Eden Litt, with Noriko Hara serving as discussant.
2012 (October 27th, Baltimore, MD): “Social Informatics: Past, Present and Future”
The 2012 symposium included the presentation of research papers, the presentation of awards for the best social informatics papers of 2011, and discussion on the past, present and future of social informatics. Presenters included J. P. Allen; Andrew Cox; Kristen Eschenfelder and Andrew Johnson; Pnina Fichman and Noriko Hara; Sean Goggins and Christopher Mascaro; Lori Hoeffner; Lysanne Lessard; Joseph Meloche and Ying Sun; Howard Rosenbaum; Beth St. Jean, Katie Shilton, and Brian Butler; and Grant Leyton Simpson. The authors of the two award-winning papers for 2012, Kristen Eschenfelder and Jessa Lingel, also presented their published work. SIG SI co-chairs Pnina Fichman and Howard Rosenbaum reported on the successful symposium in the February-March 2013 issue of the Bulletin of ASIS&T.
2011 (October 12th, New Orleans, LA): “Bridging the Gulf: The Social Analysis of Computing in Society and the Workplace”
The 2011 symposium included the presentation of research papers and a panel discussion on the continued development of social informatics. Papers were presented by Hamid Ekbia; Kristen Eschenfelder and Jom Polpsarsi; Mary Wilkins Jordan; Marcia Mardis; Ellen Rubenstein; and Chi-Chuan Wu and Min-Sing Chiu. Best paper awardees Katie Shilton and Payal Arora also presented their published work, with Noriko Hara serving as discussant. Mardis, Hara, and Ken Fleischmann served as panelists for a final discussion of large-scale, funded, team-based social informatics research.
2010 (October 27th, Pittsburgh, PA): “What in the World are We Talking About: The Differences That Definitions Make in Core Concepts”
The 2010 symposium was a joint workshop with SIG USE. Participants were divided into concept working groups to discuss differences in labels and definitions for commonly used core concepts, with the goal of growing in understanding what accounts for these differences. Seven keynote speakers led the discussion by answering the question: “Why we need to ask ‘what in the world are we talking about?'” They included Charles Cole, Brenda Dervin, Michael Olsson, Soo Young Rieh, Howard Rosenbaum, Steve Sawyer, and Christine Urquhart. Handouts and audio files are available via the ASIS&T 2010 Annual Meeting Wiki.
2009 (November 7th, Vancouver, BC, Canada): “People, Information, Technology: The Social Analysis of Computing in a Diverse and Pluralistic World”
The 2009 symposium was co-sponsored by SIG CRIT (Critical Issues). In keeping with the theme of the 2009 ASIS&T conference, the symposium solicited work that focuses on the mutual shaping of people and information as mediated by ICTs. It highlighted research focusing on the social realities of ICT-based information systems (broadly defined) in information science in order to better understand the following:
- How does difference/diversity shape design, implementation, use, disuse, and ongoing reconfiguration of information and ICTs where groups, and organizations work and play in a global environment?
- 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?
- 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?
2008 (October 25th, Columbus, OH): “People, Information and Technology: The Social Analysis of Computing”
The 2008 symposium was co-sponsored by SIG USE, SIG DL, and SIG CRIT, with additional support from the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics at Indiana University. The symposium had three objectives: (a) to disseminate state of the art research-in-progress between and among the various ASIST SIGs whose work touches on social aspects of information and communication technologies (ICT); (b) to help each other develop and strengthen this research in a friendly symposium environment; and (c) to continue the successful social networking among symposium participants from previous workshops, and to draw in new colleagues.
Starting with a broad conceptualization of ICT that emphasizes technologies in tandem with the data, information or cultural resources they store, transport and display, the 2008 symposium highlighted research focusing on the social realities of ICT based information systems (broadly defined) and their roles in the transformative relationships between people and information. It included the presentation of a series of papers, two discussants who commented on the papers, and a keynote address giving a critical appraisal of the transformative relationships between people and information, as mediated by technology.
2007 (October 19th, Milwaukee, WI): “Research Into Practice: Studying Producers and Consumers in Social Computing Environments”
The 2007 symposium was a joint, hands-on workshop with SIG USE. It was designed to increase participants’ ethnographic research skills and to examine ways that ethnographic methods may contribute to the design and evaluation of Web 2.0 (and beyond) environments. The workshop featured discussions of methodological issues by four invited speakers (discussants) with experience in a range of fieldwork methods: Elisabeth Davenport, Brenda Dervin, Andrew Grove, and Sandra Hirsch. The workshop also included interactive question and answers between the participants and the discussants, moderated by Theresa Anderson.
2006 (November 4th, Austin, TX): “Interrogating the Social Realities of Information and Communications Systems”
The 2006 symposium facilitated dissemination of ongoing research about the social aspects of information and communications systems between and among different SIGs within ASIS&T. The symposium looked to disseminate state of the art research-in-progress between and among the various ASIS&T SIGs whose work touches on social aspects of ICT systems; provide a friendly workshop environment to help improve draft research and forward ideas; and encourage social networking among workshop participants. Leah Lievrouw provided a keynote address. Further information and materials are available.
No SIG SI symposium was held during the 2005 ASIS&T Annual Meeting.
2004 (November 14th, Providence, RI): “Social Informatics Workshop for Library and Information Science Research”
Carrying on the work of the late Dr. Rob Kling—a leading proponent of social informatics within LIS—the 2004 symposium was intended to encourage development of new social informatics research streams within LIS. The goals of this symposium were to:
- Introduce concepts and findings of social informatics
- Link these to pertinent and contemporary research in LIS
- Provide a forum for interested SI researchers (and those curious about the insights and approaches to conducting research from an SI perspective) to engage in the type of lively debate that was both a hallmark of Rob Kling and a key vehicle for advancing the science of SI.
- Provide a forum for networking and knowledge sharing.
The symposium was interactive and focused on small-group work. Participants’ research interests drove the sessions, with an experienced SI scholar will facilitate each group. Through a combination of small group work and interactive discussion sessions, the symposium explored the utility of SI concepts to contemporary LIS research topics. Facilitators and organizers included Kristen Eschenfelder, Noriko Hara, Roberta Lamb, Howard Rosenbaum, and Steve Sawyer.