University of Twente - WWTS
NL-7500 AE Enschede
++31 53 489 4393
Title of Presentation: DESIGNING INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND THEIR SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES
I will argue that social consequences of (the use of) information systems are in large part determined by the relation between technological designs, social structures and interpretive frameworks. For example, whether a networked computer program infringes on the privacy of its users depends on whether the design of the program 'affords' privacy infringements, whether the system is embedded in a social structure in which some actors are in a social position in which they have an interest in such privacy infringements and are capable of doing so, and whether the conceptual structures by which actors interpret their situation and communicate with others affords them to recognize the possibility of infringing on privacy and to develop strategies to enact or resist such privacy infringements. I will argue that designers of information systems can design systems to promote or minimize certain social consequences, but can only be successful in doing so when they can anticipate to some degree the social structures and interpretive frameworks that will be part of the context of use of the system. Social consequences can be engineered (preordained) to some extent by designers of information systems, but just as well by those actors (e.g., managers, legislators, advertisers) who shape the setting in which these systems will be used. I will discuss the strategic consequences this has for any attempts to promote the public good in the development of information systems.