Social Informatics Paper

Assignment Description
You will write a 5 page paper analyzing an ICT as part of a Socio-Technical System (STS) as discussed in class and in the readings. Describe the 5 elements of the STS as applied to your example. Describe how the social theories we have discussed (Technological Determinism and Social Construction of Technology) apply to the STS, and which utopian or dystopian narratives are used in discussing it.
Remember that the main technical functions of an ICT are recording, organizing, storing, manipulating, and communicating information. For the purposes of this class, we are focusing on “communication between humans” not the exchange of data between machines. So the ICT you choose must facilitate human communication.

1. Choose an ICT that you are familiar with. It can be one that you use on a regular basis, or it could be an ICT that has been part of a recent current event in the news. On the personal experience side, perhaps you recently decided to delete your Facebook account and switch to another social media platform (personal experience). Or you have recently witnessed a decision being made about software or technology at your workplace and have seen it (or predict that it will) succeed wildly or fail disastrously. In the current events category, maybe you are curious about the development of the Apple Watch.

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If you are having a hard time thinking of a topic, browse the technology section of any major newspaper to see if any recent technology-related news stories spark your interest, then consider whether and how it can be analyzed from a social informatics perspective. Or look for articles about technology in magazines and other media that offer social and cultural commentary about technology (i.e., The Atlantic, Slate, Wired, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, etc.). To think of a topic related to personal experience, make a list of all the ICTs that you use or are familiar with, particularly those that you have strong positive or negative feelings about or experiences with, and consider whether you can explain those feelings from a social informatics perspective.
TIP: The more specific the topic, the easier it will be to analyze it; this is why the assignment specifies that the topic should be a current event or personal experience rather than a type or category of ICT. Instead of “virtual reality,” your topic might be the New York Times’ decision to use VR to enhance readers’ experiences of their news stories. Instead of “blogs,” your topic might be your experience starting your own personal blog (personal experience).

2. Apply concepts that we have discussed in class to your topic. Some of the perspectives that you may take include:
• Kling (2007): how social contexts influence the use of technologies; socio-technical systems
• Norman (1997): humans & computers as cooperative systems
• Tenner (1997): revenge effects
• Baym (2010): technological determinism; utopian and dystopian narratives of new technologies
• Pinch & Bijker (1987): social construction of technology; variation and selection in the development of the ICT; impact of relevant social groups (users and non-users) on the development of the ICT
• Quan-Haase (2016): social informatics perspective; mutual shaping of technology and society; importance of specific social contexts
• Rogers (2003): diffusion of innovation; rates of adoption; categories of adopters; social changes caused by adoption of the ICT
• Anderson (2015); Perrin & Duggan (2015): development and adoption/diffusion of new technologies
You could research how widely adopted your ICT is, and discuss what factors might affect its adoption rate.
You could research how the ICT has evolved over time, what changes have been made to it, and discuss what role users may have had in shaping those changes.
You could talk about your personal experience with adoption of the technology: how did you learn about it, how did you decide to try it, did you end up adopting or rejecting it? How did these characteristics of the ICT influence your decisions: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability?

3. Write a 5-page paper that:
1. Introduces your topic and why you choose it/why it is of interest
2. Gives a social informatics perspective of the topic, according to one or more of the perspectives in course readings
3. Describes the 5 elements of a Socio-Technical System (STS) as applied to your ICT
4. Cites at least 2 of the assigned course readings from the syllabus
5. Explains the value of the SI perspective on the topic: what did you learn?
6. Cites your source in the text of the paper and includes a bibliography of your sources using APA format

Writing and Citing in APA Style

Bibliographical citations for assignments requiring research must use the APA format-6th edition, as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. You can find tutorials and other information on this style at
Note: All class readings are listed in APA format in the syllabus.
Use the title “References” at the start of your references list (bibliography).
List sources alphabetically by the author’s last name.
Do not just list URLs in your references. This is incorrect citation format.
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) is an excellent introduction to APA style, when and how to cite within a paper, and how to format the reference list. Here are some links to help you get started:
• APA Stylistics: Basics –
• In-Text Citations: The Basics –
• Reference List: Basic Rules –
(Examples of nearly every type of reference can be found in the left-hand menu under “APA Formatting and Style Guide”)
In general, APA encourages a writing style that is concise, specific, and clear. Avoid over-generalized statements and opinions (“There is more technology today than ever before,” or “The world is fundamentally different now because of cellphones”) as they are impossible to back up with conclusive evidence.
Note that the correct format for an online article is:
Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Title of article. Title of Source. Retrieved from

Example: Parker-Pope, T. (2008, May 6). Psychiatry handbook linked to drug industry. The New York Times. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)
If the page’s author is not listed, start with the title instead. If the date of publication is not listed, use the abbreviation (n.d.).
Example: Spotlight Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)
Above all, be sure to properly cite any idea that you get from someone else, using quotations when quoting someone’s direct words, or an in-text parenthetical citation [for example: “(Kling, 2007)”] if paraphrasing someone else’s words. When you use a direct quote from a source, include the page numbers: (Author, Year, p. XX).
Plagiarism, even when unintended will carry consequences for your assignment grade; see the section of the Course Policies (Links to an external site.)on “Academic Integrity” for more information about what constitutes plagiarism.

Paper Formatting

The paper is to be double-spaced in 12-point type, Times New Roman font, with at least 1” margins on all sides of the paper, with pages numbered. The reference list is NOT a part of the page count.
At the top of the first page, include the following information:

Social Informatics
First and Last Name
Assignment Title

You do not need a separate title page. You do not need an abstract.
Use page numbers.
Save the file as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) file, naming the file “Last name_Applying SI.”
Attach your assignment below and click Submit.

Applying SI Papers will be graded on the basis of: topic choice and description, clarity of social informatics concepts, references to course readings, writing quality, and format (including citations and references).

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