Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart

Overview

The common rhetoric about technology falls into two extreme categories: uncritical acceptance or blanket rejection. These two positions leave us with poor choices for action. They encourage us to accept as inevitable whatever technological changes come along. Claiming a middle ground, Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O'Day call for responsible, informed engagement with technology in local settings, which they call "information ecologies." Their goal is to change the way people look at ...
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Overview

The common rhetoric about technology falls into two extreme categories: uncritical acceptance or blanket rejection. These two positions leave us with poor choices for action. They encourage us to accept as inevitable whatever technological changes come along. Claiming a middle ground, Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O'Day call for responsible, informed engagement with technology in local settings, which they call "information ecologies." Their goal is to change the way people look at information technology.

An information ecology is a system of people, practices, technologies, and values in a local environment. Like their biological counterparts, information ecologies are diverse, continually evolving, and complex. Nardi and O'Day encourage the reader to become more aware of the ways people and technology are interrelated. A key to thoughtful action, they say, is to ask more "know-why" questions, before jumping to the more straightforward "know-how" questions. They talk about practical ways to have more "know-why" conversations, to dig deeper and reflect more about how we use technology.

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What People Are Saying

Michael Schrage
Nardi and O'Day bring a sharp eye and eloquence to the future challenges for life in the cybersphere.
From the Publisher
"[A] new and refreshing perspective on our technologically dependent society.... Information Ecologies is an antidote to our current infection: our unquestioning acceptance of, and dependence upon, technology. Nardi and O'Day demonstrate how technology can have a more humane face when handled properly and integrated into a social environment where the human factor isn't ignored." David Howell, Daily Telegraph
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262140669
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Bonnie Nardi is Professor in the Department of Informatics in the School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
I Information Ecologies: Concepts and Reflections 1
1 Rotwang the Inventor 3
2 Framing Conversations about Technology 13
3 A Matter of Metaphor: Technology as Tool, Text, System, Ecology 25
4 Information Ecologies 49
5 Values and Technology 59
6 How to Evolve Information Ecologies 65
II Case Studies 77
7 Librarians: A Keystone Species 79
8 Wolf, Batgirl, and Starlight: Finding a Real Community in a Virtual World 105
9 Cultivating Gardeners: The Importance of Homegrown Expertise 139
10 Digital Photography at Lincoln High School 153
11 A Dysfunctional Ecology: Privacy Issues at a Teaching Hospital 169
12 Diversity on the Internet 185
13 Conclusion 209
Notes 217
Index 227
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2001

    Knowing WHY Use Technology!

    <p>Using Technology with Heart is a book that successfully caters to both technical and non-technical individuals who have hearts to know <u>'how'</u> to and most importantly, <u>'why'</u> use technology. Nardi and O¿Day do a masterful job of summarizing the various 'framing conversations' and 'metaphors' that have been used to analyze the impact of technological change. Through the case studies written from their personal experiences in this book, Nardi and O¿Day provide their readers abilities to understand how different users such as librarians, schools, and hospitals are incorporating technology to better serve society. Among those case studies, several of them highlight successful information ecologies. A digital photography class, for example, focuses on 'the value of the content being created rather than the sophisticated tools needed to perform the task of creation.'</p> <p>Nardi and O'Day brought the readers to the attention that engagement with technology in local settings, which they call <i>information ecologies</i> is important. An <i>information ecology</i> is a system of people, technologies, practices, and values in a local environment. One way to be aware of the ways people and technology interrelated is to ponder 'know-why' questions before trying to answer 'know-how' questions. Their goal throughout the book is to change the way people look at information technology. Based on this rationale, Nardi and O¿Day suggest that we take the context of our local habitations into account so that our use of technology will be more effective. As we are heading toward a total technical dominated world, it is extremely important that we not only know 'how' to use a certain technology, but also are aware of 'why' we use it. By trying to understand technology this way, we will then be able to communicate our thoughts to others and find ways to use technology a lot more effective.</p> <p>Overall, Information Ecologies is an important and useful book for those who want to know how to effectively incorporate their daily lives into the use of technology.</p>

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