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Data realities in plural contexts : appraisal of a definition [of social informatics]

  • The meaning of "context" within the definition of social informatics (SI) is explored. The most general context of interest is formed by the relationship between the broad categories of the "technological" and the "social," as they are manifest in information and communication technologies (ICTs). Within and between these broad categories there are numerous distinct but inter-related contexts. Contextual complexity at a more detailed level is illustrated through close examination of the data-related references in a textual description of geographic information systems (GIS). A six-category taxonomy is used to highlight the complex cross-referencing between inter-related vocabularies that reflects the multiple contextual realities involved. They reveal themselves as open to multiple and continuing interpretation within different contexts at different levels of conceptualisation. Practical implications include suggestions that current generalist approaches to systems design may be too removed from the specifics of the task at hand, and that information professionals in their education and training need to be exposed to a wide range of perspectives, reflecting the various human contexts in which their technical expertise is likely to be deployed. What is desirable is a sophisticated appreciation of the many contexts in which ICTs function.
  • Cole, Fletcher
  • 2006-01-01
  • Conference Paper
  • en