Defining the IT artefact in social media for eParticipation: An Ensemble view


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Defining the IT artefact in social media for eParticipation: An Ensemble view

  1. 1. Defining the social media IT artefact for eParticipation: An ensemble view Marius Rohde Johannessen & Bjørn Erik Munkvold Department of Information Systems University of Agder, Norway20th European Conference on Information Systems | June 11-13, 2012
  2. 2. Outline • Introduction: Necessity of the IT artefact • Theoretical definition: The social media artefact • Single medium: capabilities for eParticipation • Social media/holistic : Social media as II • Empirical testing: Example case and findings 2
  3. 3. The short version • Socialmedia has become popular in government, but results are somewhat limited (government 1.5) • Paper attempts to improve our understanding of social media in the context of eParticipation • We analyse social media as ensemble IT artefact in a two step process: 1. Technology and eParticipation capabilities 2. Information Infrastructures (II) 3
  4. 4. IntroductionBackground and motivation• Defining IT artefact can contribute to understanding • Ensemble view: Socio-technical definition of IT • Because: social media is both social/cultural and technical. • The technology is simple (forms, HTML etc.), while the use and culture is what makes social media different • But: Technological functionality also determines use 4
  5. 5. Theoretical definitionEnsemble artefact: eParticipation capabilities • Lots of different initiatives at all levels of government • Objectives ranging from dissemination to consultation • A number of different social media + hybrids • Need for evaluation of technology and capabilities • Adaptedversion of Tambouris (et al 2007) provides us with understanding of the specific system • Sæbø/Flak 2008: added fields for activities and expected outcomes 5
  6. 6. Theoretical definitionEnsemble artefact: single medium capabilitiesName of medium <insert name of social medium> Technical functionality, such as forms, video, feedbackFunctionality options, calendar tools, search, sharing, commenting Information/two-way consultation/involvement in the politicalLevel of participation process/collaboration/power transfer to civil societyStage in decision making Agenda setting, analysis, policy creation, implementation,process monitoringActors Divided into facilitators and users of the technology Voting, discourse formation, decision making, activism,Activities consultation, petitionsExpected outcomes Civic engagement, deliberative effects, democratic effects Defining the technological characteristics and eParticipation capabilities of social media for eParticipation (adapted from Tambouris et al., 2007 and Sæbø et al., 2008) 6
  7. 7. Theoretical definitionEnsemble artefact: social media as II • Information Infrastructures • Based on socio-technical theory and structuration theory • Sees technology not as single artefact, but as networks of technologies and people • First used to describe the physical infrastructure of the «Information superhighway», later developed to a broader theory for thinking about technology • Why use II to define the IT artefact? • Embodies ideas from sociotech, structuration & network theory • Provides us with a short and easy, but comprehensive framework 7
  8. 8. Theoretical definitionEnsemble artefact: socio-technical aspects(II) Infrastructures have a supporting or enabling function, as opposed toEnabling systems that are specifically designed for one single purpose. An infrastructure is one irreducible unit shared by a larger community.Shared Sharing demands standards for proper communication.Socio- IIs are socio-technical networks. Not just technology, but also users andtechnical producers There are no limits on the number of users, stakeholders, network nodesOpen and technical components. One cannot draw a border for one single infrastructure.Heterogeneo IIs are connected in infrastructure ecologies, layered upon each other, andus similar functions may be implemented in different ways. You cannot change an entire infrastructure, or build it from scratch. NewInstalled things must be attached to the old, and the old (the installed base)base influences how the new can be designed.Aspects of Information Infrastructures (Hanseth & Monteiro, 1998) 8
  9. 9. Theoretical definitionEnsemble artefact: socio-technical aspects(II) Social media are not designed to support political deliberation. The system might notEnabling be ideal for the purpose, and users will have to make do and adapt to the limits of the medium Users need to adapt to their environment. One user group cannot change the way an entire infrastructure functions. Studies of political parties’ activity on Facebook showShared that the political parties have attempted to use social media as a one-way channel, which is not in line with the culture of social media Researchers and practitioners need to understand the culture of social media in orderSocio-technical to become effective social media users. The open nature of infrastructures means it becomes difficult, but also necessary, toOpen find ways of delimiting our object of study. The heterogeneous nature of infrastructures influence the form of political debate,Heterogeneous and this should be taken into consideration when we make decisions on where to look for public spheres. To some extent controls, or guides, what we can and cannot do with social media. For example, Facebook discussions are influenced by the way information is presented onInstalled base Facebook, and might not be a good fit with the needs of political parties due to issues such as compliance with archiving regulations.Relevance of II for eParticipation 9
  10. 10. Empirical testingExample case• Norwegian 2009 parliamentary election• First serious attempt at social media use: • Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Youtube, Flickr etc.• Objective: facilitate debate and engagement• Data collection: • Interviews (F2F and e-mail) • Content and genre analysis of online communication 10
  11. 11. Empirical testingCase findings: capabilitiesName of medium Facebook Personalised front page, Profiles, Groups, Networks, ”wall” for message posting, Photo uploads, Notes/links, status updates,Functionality events, Video, Chat, 3rd party applications, internal private messaging system, search, Sharing of content, mobile app for smartphones Information, two-way consultation, possibly involvement in theLevel of participation political process (legal constraints need examination)Stage in decision Agenda setting, Analysismaking process Party information workers, politicians, NGOs, individual citizens. AllActors can be both sender and receiver of information.Activities Information, activism, consultation, petitionsExpected outcomes Civic engagement 11
  12. 12. Empirical testingCase findings: IIEnabling Learning to cope with the restrictions of the systemShared Finding the balance between standardisation and customisationSocio- Adapting to the culture of social media, understanding how to use ittechnicalOpen Scoping – what to use, what not to?Heteroge Deciding on value – what is political, what should we answer/ignore?neousInstalled Still not there yet (government 1.5)base 12
  13. 13. Relevance• For research: • Contributes to understanding of social media as IT artefact (or at least discussion of…) • Use of II makes visible the complex nature of social media as a whole • Capabilities allows us to analyse the individual medium• For practice: • Can apply the combined framework to their own social media operations  increased understanding • A more practitioner-friendly application of the framework will be presented in another paper. 13
  14. 14. Thank you for listening! 14