Design & Management

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Nov 5, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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A Socio
-
Political Look at Web System
Design & Management

Based on

Kristin R.Eschenfelder

School of Library and Information Studies

University of Wisconsin
-
Madison

Why Care about Social
Aspects?


Ethics.


Technology is a way of enforcing, or
reinforcing, social order. Web sites are rarely
neutral parties. Designers and managers
“shape” them consciously or unconsciously.


In order yo successfully
design/implement/manage technology we
have to understand its
social context
.

Opportunities for Social
Shaping of Web Sites


Web site planning and design


Web Management, or “It’s up and running.... now
what?”


Usability and testing


Constant feedback


High levels of change
-

New news on the site,
keeping site fresh


content management


image control


ongoing enhancements


integration with current systems (tech & non tech)


funding sources/choosing projects


Social Composition of Web
Information System (IS)


We think of a web site as a unified entity,
when it is in fact a conglomeration of
separate and autonomous parts
(including
people, information and equipment)


multiple servers and sets of software


multiple clusters of content & content
owners/creators


multiple web managers


multiple business managers

NOTES:

Any Web site reflects its organization, which is probably not a unified entity, but rather composed of

different subgroups with their own agendas. Web IS is a composition of the efforts of many different groups

within an organization, all of which may have different interests and expectations.

Social Composition of Web IS (2)


Web IS is dependent upon “parts” from these various
groups in order to exist; in order to present the
“unified” front.


Web sites draw on content clusters from many
different groups across the organization


e.g. Admin writes the "about" section; someone else does the
news
-

are their writing styles consistent??


Network infrastructure made up of multiple web
servers and web applications linked via network lines


Technology parts


does group A’s technology work well with
group B’s technology? How hard will it be to make them
work together?

Social Composition of Web IS (3)


Web sites draw on content clusters from many
different groups across the organization

-

how does
content "flow" through organization?


Do those groups make that content available? If not,
do you have an unsatisfied information need? Do
those groups provide updates to content when it is
necessary (information maintenance issues?


Each of the participating groups may have different
goals for, or expectations of, the web IS. Yet the
system as a whole needs to reflect a coherent
goal/purpose? What if the goals of different groups
are at odds with each other? Politics = the strongest
wins.


People need to agree on the overall purpose/image of
the site.

Socio
-
Technical Networks


Rob Kling, Faculty at Indiana SLIS


Book:
Understanding and communicating social informatics
,
OCLC link: http://worldcat.org/oclc/60776586


People, information and equipment (nodes) linked
together through bonds of influence or dependency.


Technology and social context in a relationship of
mutual shaping.


Nodes: work group, org, industry, national, global


Decisions made, or actions taken at one node impact
the decisions made, or actions taken at another node



STIN Framework


All these elements add up to socio
-
technical
information network


Key Actor Groups


Organizational History


Technical Design Choices


Typical Social Interactions (Dependencies)


Reward Structures

The Model

Professional Peers

Suppliers/Vendors

Peer Organizations

External Customers

Investors

Third Party
Web Tools

Dependencies Crossing Organization
Boundaries

Dependencies within the
Organization

Content
Contributors

Business
Managers

Corporate
Strategists

Business
Web
Managers

Corporate

Web

Managers

Major Web IS Organization Actors (for example)

ACTOR GROUPS


RELATIONSHIP TO WEB IS


Corporate web
managers (CWM)


Work for corporate IS units. Develop rules which govern total web IS
appearance and functioning. Create and maintain portal for the company.


Distributed web
managers (DWM)


Work for distributed business or functional units. Create and maintain portals
for individual divisions or business groups. Create and maintain individual
applications that meet individual business needs.


Business Managers


Control resources for web IS, generate ideas for web IS.


External Customers


Patronize sites. Interact with system to buy products or request services.
Request system enhancements. Expect fast development
.


Internal Customers


Request enhancements to systems. Expect fast development.


Corporate Strategists


Set direction for company with regard to Web IS.


Content
Creators/Owners


Create, control and or maintain content for web IS.


Peers at other
orgs/Trade Press


Influence expectations and goals of web managers.


Third party web tools


Influence designs about design.


History/Time


Organizational History


Grass roots vs. centralized development of
the web


Time


Changes in expectations about development
time

Technological Design Choices


Points at which pre
-
existing social relations
or assumptions about social relations are
inscribed

into technology. Technology then
reinforces

these social relations.
(Not
always considered on a conscious level!)


examples:

Choices made about what the web site will do
(purpose)

Interface design & optimal user groups

Software/hardware selection (who benefits?)

Typical Social Interactions


Analyze
resource

dependencies and
account taking

dependencies


Resource dependencies


one party's intentional or unintentional control of a
resource influences the range of possible actions other
parties' can take or the value of some desired output.



Social benchmarking dependencies


when individuals or groups consciously or unconsciously
benchmark their actions, performance, or outputs to the
perceived desires, actions, or performance of other
groups or individuals.


Resource Dependencies


The Usual: time, staff, money


Brainshare: Do people in the organization
care

about the web?


This sets up dependencies requiring attention or commitment
leading to certain actions
-

one party's choice of whether or
not to pay attention to something or to expend effort on
something affects the range of options available to other
parties, or the value of some output.


content management & content contributors


business managers & organizational change


Web Understanding: business managers', or other
employees’, level of knowledge of web technology, web
design or web IS management


Resource Dependencies (2)


Web Understanding: Do people understand the
web?


Understanding of the dynamic nature of post implementation
web IS management,


Understanding of required web maintenance resources,


Understanding of the need to develop strategy and content
management plans for web IS,


Understanding of technology limitations or design best
practices.



Resource Dependencies (3)


Good Name
-

Does someone else’s stuff make
you look bad?


Dependencies related to the public image of the
organization as a whole or to the public image of
individuals or groups within the organization.


stale content & organization image


Are we fuddy
-
duddies, or cutting edge?


stale content & web manager time


This is related to the content flow through the organization
-

do content creators understand how their stuff gets on the
site??


From Laurel Clyde

article."A strategic

planning approach

to web site

Management"

Social Benchmarking
Dependencies


Lost Opportunity/Being Left Behind


How does a project impact your professional skills?


eg.
web managers benchmarked their work activities
and web accomplishments to extra
-
organizational
others
-

including peer web managers at other
companies, and the images of web IS management and
web managers portrayed in the trade press and in
professional conferences. They benchmarked their
companies' overall web activities to exemplary
activities celebrated by the trade press and
professional conferences, to activities pursued by peer
companies and to opportunities created third party
web tools such as multi
-
vendor catalog sites and
industry portals.

Social Benchmarking
Dependencies (2)


Web IS Involvement Evaluation


Does your org have any formal evaluation requirements?


Management Policies


Does your org have any formal web rules?


Eg.
complex social referencing and negotiating that
web mangers described as inherent in the creation and
enforcement of organizational web IS management
policies.

Social costs of breaking rules, or not aligning
one’s self with corporate stated goals or policies. The
social costs of creating policies


people may ignore
them.




Typical Reward Structures


Look at both rewards and discouragers to interaction with
the web IS.
(user side & mgmt side)

WEB MANAGMENT INCENTIVES


Improve the
business


Participants cited the desire to increase their organization’s profitability, market share
and reputation within their market as incentives for maintaining high quality web IS.



Personal
development


Participants had personal incentives for engaging in web IS management activity
including enhancement of skills and good performance evaluations.


WEB MANAGEMENT DISCOURAGERS


Lack of
resources



Each of the four sites operated within tight fiscal restraints. This discouraged the
investment of resources on web IS management efforts. It also impeded web
managers’ ability to ensure the quality of content created or maintained by others.


Management
disinterest


Within the companies, some of the senior managers did not believe that the web
technology would make a significant contribution to the company. This belief
discouraged investment in web IS enhancements
.


Mgmt lack of
understanding


Within the companies, some managers did not understand the limits or the
maintenance needs of the web IS. This led them to either not allocate sufficient funds
for ongoing management, or misallocate funds to inappropriate or ill
-
conceived
projects.


Lessons


All information systems exist in a multilevel social
context


Work group, organization, industry, national, global


Social context is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon
that includes facets such as:


major actors, history, traditional interactions, existing
rewards & disincentives.


Social context shapes the way technology is designed,
used, managed and reconfigured.


Technology has impacts on its context.

Lessons (2)


Realize that your ethics, morals, beliefs and
assumptions impact the way you and your organization
design systems.


The decisions you make will impact peoples’ lives.
Your decisions therefore have moral and ethical
consequences


Those who know most about technology are in many cases
the worst equipped to appreciate its implications for the
lives of ordinary people. Consumed by technical and
corporate objectives that become ends in themselves, they
fail to see that their work may very often be contrary to the
interests of their fellow citizens. (
Electronic Illusions
, Ian
Reinecke, 1984, p. 243; OCLC link:
http://worldcat.org/oclc/10299213).

Lessons (3)


But, my work isn’t important!


The decisions you make can improve or
undermine the quality of peoples’ work and
the overall functioning of the organization.
What assumptions and power structures are
you unknowingly building into your system?



web IS are becoming more tightly integrated with
the work that people do.


Lessons (4)


Include social analysis in system design,
planning and evaluation.


Remember Clyde strategic planning aproach
(slide #17; Kling model (slide #9)

Lessons (final)


Do not expect systems to do that which is socially
impossible. Systems can, do, and will
FAIL


Develop systems that recognize and account for their social
environments. Social environments can and do contribute to
the failure of systems.


Web IS success is mostly NOT a technology issue. It is highly
dependent on organizational practices and resources that
support the system


Reward & recognize content contribution


Encourage business manager education