Working Papers (RKCSI)

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The RKCSI Working Paper Series provides a venue for social informatics researchers to publish their works for distribution to a wide audience. Works may be submitted before or in lieu of publication in a formal journal.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 50
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    The Controversies over Data Mining and Warrantless Searches in the Wake of September 11
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2008) Hart, Jeffrey A.
    In 2004, the Congress voted to end funding for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) data mining program called Total Information Awareness (TIA) that was supposed to be used for preventing terrorist attacks. Because this was not the only data mining project established by the U.S. government after September 11, this paper examines the likely impact of the TIA cancellation on future efforts. It summarizes the controversy over warrantless wiretaps in the more recent past and then turns to the broader question of the tradeoffs between privacy and security.
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    Democracy in the Age of the Internet: An Analysis of the Net Neutrality Debate of 2006
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2007) Hart, Jeffrey
    In 2006, a major telecommunications bill failed because it did not include guarantees for something called “net neutrality.” The purpose of this paper is to describe and explain the politics behind the net neutrality debate of 2006 and to predict its likely future course.
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    A Multi-level Approach to Intelligent Information Filtering: Model, System, and Evaluation
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1996) Mostafa, J.; Mukhopahyay, S.; Lam, W.; Palakal, M.
    To conduct efficient information filtering, uncertanties occurring at multiple levels must be managed. Uncertainties can occur due to changing document space as well as stochasticity and non-stationarity of the user. In this paper, a filtering model is proposed that decomposes the overall task into subsystem functionalities and highlights the need for multiple adaptation techniques to cope with uncertainties. A filtering system, named SIFTER, has been implemented based on the model, using established techniques in information retrieval and artificial intelligence. These techniques include document representation using vector-space model, document classification by unsupervised learning, and user modeling by reinforcement learning. The system can filter information based on content and user's specific interests. The user's interest is automatically learned with only limited user intervention in the form of optional relevance feedbacks for documents. We also describe extensive experimental studies conducted with SIFTER to filter computer and information science documents collected from the Internet and commercial database services. The experimental results demonstrate that the system performs very well in filtering documents in a realistic problem setting.
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    Bits of Cities: Utopian Visions and Social Power in Placed-Based and Electronic Communities
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1996) Kling, Rob; Lamb, Roberta
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    Structure and Action: Towards a New Concept of the Information Use Environment
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1996) Rosenbaum, Howard
    One pressing concern in library and information science is to understand the social context within which the generation and dissemination of information takes place in organizational settings. This paper examines the problems involved in the attempt to account for, in theoretical and empirical terms, the social context within which information is generated, sought for, acquired, evaluated, organized, disseminated, and used in complex formal organizations. It describes the findings of research based on innovative theoretical approach that focuses on one important element of the social context of information, called the information use environment. Based on the work of Taylor [1, 2] and Giddens [3, 4] this approach represents a conceptual advance in the field that allows us to improve our understanding of the complexities of the working world of information professionals.
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    The Internet for Sociologists
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1997) Kling, Rob
    Within the last five years, many sociologists have discovered electronic mail (e-mail) discussion lists (such as LISTSERVs) and the World Wide Web (WWW)-- services, that are associated with a network of computer networks popularly referred to as "the Internet." Over the last twenty years, academics in certain disciplines, especially the lab sciences, have found computer networking to be a viable means for sharing data, organizing professionals discussions, keeping in touch with colleagues, and distributing documents, such as conference programs, preprints, and syllabi. Within the last five years, many sociologists have discovered electronic mail (e-mail) discussion lists (such as LISTSERVs) and the World Wide Web (WWW)-- services, that are associated with a network of computer networks popularly referred to as "the Internet." Over the last twenty years, academics in certain disciplines, especially the lab sciences, have found computer networking to be a viable means for sharing data, organizing professionals discussions, keeping in touch with colleagues, and distributing documents, such as conference programs, preprints, and syllabi. This brief article has the unmodest ambition of explaining to sociologists why they should take the Internet seriously as a medium of professional communication, and why some sociologists should be specially interested in the Internet (or other computer networks) as social spaces in which to study shifting social relationships in our society. Part I may be specially useful to sociologists who have relatively limited experience with Internet services. Part II discusses sociological uses of the Internet to support research, teaching, and professional communication that could interest readers with significant Internet experiences.
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    Human Centered Systems in the Perspective of Organizational and Social Informatics
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1997) Kling, Rob; Star, Leigh; Kiesler, Sara; Agre, Phil; Bowker, Geoffrey; Attewell, Paul; Ntuen, Celestine
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    Organizational Aspects of the Virtual/Digital Library: A Survey of Academic Libraries
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1997) Travica, Bob
    The virtual or digital library (V/DL) is presently being investigated across disciplines. Technology-related topics capture most of attention, while organizational issues are little studied. Rather than looking at V/DL as a specific technology, the present study takes an organizational approach. It places V/DL in the content of the academic library, focusing on relevant opinions of the library heads. The study's findings suggest that the library heads typically understand V/DL as digital materials, are mainly supportive of V/DL understood in this way, and demonstrate the tension between old and new orientations.
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    How Public is the Web?: Robots, Access, and Scholarly Communication
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1998) Snyder, Herbert; Rosenbaum, Howard
    This paper examines the use of "Robot Exclusion Protocol" to restrict the access of search engine robots to 10 major American university websites belonging to institutions recently named among "AmericaÕs Most Wired" universities (Gan, 1997). An analysis of web site searching and interviews with web server administrators at these sites shows that the decision to use this procedure is largely technical and is typically made by the web server administrator. The implications of this decision for openness in scholarly communication and for the future of academic, university-based web publishing are discussed.
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    Not Just a Matter of Time: Field Differences and the Shaping of Electronic Media
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 1999) Kling, Rob; McKim, Geoffrey
    The shift towards the use of electronic media in scholarly communication appears to be an inescapable imperative. However, these shifts are uneven, both with respect to field and with respect to the form of communication. Different scientific fields have developed and use distinctly different communicative forums, both in the paper and electronic arenas, and these forums play different communicative roles within the field. One common claim is that we are in the early stages of an electronic revolution, that it is only a matter of time before other fields catch up with the early adopters, and that all fields converge on a stable set of electronic forums. A social shaping of technology (SST) perspective helps us to identify important social forces – centered around disciplinary constructions of trust and of legitimate communication – that pull against convergence. This analysis concludes that communicative plurality and communicative heterogeneity are durable features of the scholarly landscape, and that we are likely to see field differences in the use of and meaning ascribed to communications forums persist, even as overall use of electronic communications technologies both in science and in society as a whole increases.
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    Students’ Distress with a Web-based Distance Education Course
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2000) Hara, Noriko; Kling, Rob
    Many advocates of computer-mediated distance education emphasize its positive aspects and understate the kinds of communicative and technical capabilities and work required by students and faculty. There are few systematic analytical studies of students who have experienced new technologies in higher education. This article presents a qualitative case study of a web-based distance education course at a major U.S. university. The case data reveal a topic that is glossed over in much of the distance education literature written for administrators, instructors and prospective students: students' periodic distressing experiences (such as frustration, anxiety and confusion) in a small graduate-level course due to communication breakdowns and technical difficulties. Our intent is that this study will enhance understanding of the instructional design issues, instructor and student preparation, and communication practices that are needed to improve web-based distance education courses.
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    Arenas of Innovation: Fringe Groups and the Discovery of New Liberties Of Action
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2000) Sawhney, Harmeet; Lee, Seungwhan
    The accuracy of our forecasts about a new communication technology depend on our ability to detect new "liberties of action" it offers. We, however, are unable to recognize them because we tend to view the new technology via metaphors based on old ones. Furthermore, the entrenched institutions seek to guide its development within the existing framework with minimal disruptions. Within this context, the breakthroughs which shatter our conceptual blinders come from the activities of fringe groups fueled by the thrill of experimentation rather than the prospect of commercial gain. For example, while corporations (RCA, Westinghouse, AT&T and others) interested in point-to-point wireless telegraphy viewed the scattering of radio waves as a nuisance, amateur radio enthusiasts saw the potential of point-to-multipoint broadcasting. Similarly, the activities of fringe groups were critical in the development of e-mail and internet broadcasting. This paper explains how the fringe groups form an "arena of innovation" outside the established institutional framework which facilitates the discovery of new liberties of action. It first examines the development of radio, e-mail, and internet broadcasting to identify parallels and then conceptualizes the processes via which fringe groups discover the new liberties of action of an emerging communication technology.
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    Information Inequality: UCITA, Public Policy and Information Access
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2000) Meyer, Eric T.
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    A Bit More To IT: Scholarly Communication Forums as Socio-Technical Interaction Networks
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2001) Kling, Rob; McKim, Geoffrey; King, Adam
    In this article, we examine the conceptual models that help us understand the development and sustainability of scholarly and professional communication forums on the Internet, such as conferences, pre-print servers, field-wide data sets, and collaboratories. We first present and document the information processing model that is implicitly advanced in most discussions about scholarly communications -- the “Standard Model.” Then we present an alternative model, a model that considers information technologies as Socio-Technical Interaction Networks (STINs). STIN models provide a richer understanding of human behavior with online scholarly communications forums. They also help to further a more complete understanding of the conditions and activities that support the sustainability of these forums within a field than does the Standard Model. We illustrate the significance of the STIN model with examples of scholarly communication forums drawn from the fields of high energy physics, molecular biology, and information systems.
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    Electronic Journals, the Internet, and Scholarly Communication
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2001) Kling, Rob; Callahan, Ewa
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    Gender and Power in Online Communication
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2001) Herring, Susan
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    Locally Controlled Scholarly Publishing via the Internet: The Guild Model
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2002) Kling, Rob; Spector, Lisa; McKim, Geoff
    Many librarians and scholars believe that the Internet can be used to dramatically improve scholarly communication. During the last decade there has been substantial discussion of five major publishing models where readers could access articles without a fee: electronic journals, hybrid paper-electronic journals, authors' self-posting on web sites, free online access to all peer reviewed literature, and disciplinary repositories where authors post their own unrefereed articles. There have been numerous projects within each of these models, as well as extensive discussions about their strengths and limitations. While some of these projects have become important scholarly resources in specific disciplines; none of them has become commonplace across numerous disciplines. There is a sixth model that has been quietly adopted and developed in a number of disciplines -- the research publication series called working papers or technical reports that are sponsored by academic departments or research institutes. Many of these manuscript series are available to readers, online, and free of charge. This model -- which we call Guild Publishing -- has a distinct set of advantages and limitations when compared with the other five publishing models. This article explains the Guild Publishing Model, provides some examples, and discusses its strengths and limitations.
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    IT Supports for Communities of Practice: An Empirically-based Framework
    (Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, 2002) Hara, Noriko; Kling, Rob
    Despite strong interest among practitioners and scholars, the study of communities of practice (CoPs) and Information Technology (IT) is short of empirical research. This paper presents a theoretical framework for communities of practice and provides alternative perspectives on IT supports for communities of practice. The framework was developed based on the literature and ethnographic case studies of communities of practice within two organizations. The study examines how people share and construct their knowledge and how they use collaborative IT to support work practices in two organizations. The surprising finding is that the groups that used IT most intensively had the least well-developed CoPs. The results of the study would inform practice and research in Knowledge Management.