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Documentary Scholarly Communications in the Perspective of Social Informatics


Documentary Scholarly Communications in the Perspective of Social Informatics. Rob Kling ... A PROPOSAL FOR ELECTRONIC PUBLICATION IN THE BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Documentary Scholarly Communications in the Perspective of Social Informatics

Documentary Scholarly Communications in the
Perspective of Social Informatics
Rob Kling SLIS Center for Social
Informatics Indiana University Bloomington,
Top Level Overview
  • How is Social Informatics (SI) Defined?
  • Four Brief Examples of SI Analyses
  • How SI Matters

Social Informatics
Social Informatics is the body of research that
examines the design, uses, and consequences of
information and communication technologies in
ways that take into account their interaction
with institutional and cultural contexts.
Organizational Informatics is SI when major
explanations can be bounded within a one-or a few
Some Topics studied in OI SI
  • IT organizational change (worklife,
    communication, structures, power relations)
    (usually OI)
  • IT changes in schooling (incl. dist. education)
  • Privacy social control via IT
  • The dynamics trajectories of IT standards
    governance - such as Internet standards
  • Mobilization of support for IT projects (via
    professional reform movements, actor networks,
  • IT changing communication patterns (in science,
    scholarship, health care public, sociable
  • Household appropriation of IT

SI Analyses Illustrated in this Talk
  • Lotus Notes Use Technological imperatives vs.
    organizational incentives
  • Digital Convergence or Not Just a Matter of
  • The Transformation of E-BioMed to PubMedCentral
  • Developmental Trajectories of Scientific
    Communication Systems Technological imperatives
    vs. the political economy of scientific fields
  • IT Ontology Socio-technical Interaction Networks
  • The social and technical are not readily
    separable in complex IT systems.

More About Social Informatics
  • See the Social Informatics Home page, a resource
    about research, teaching, conferences journals
  • http//
  • "What is Social Informatics and Why Does it
    Matter? D-Lib Magazine January 1999 5(1)
  • at http//www.dlib.org80/dlib/january99/kling/01kli

Technological imperatives vs. organizational
  • The next slide summarizes the case of Lotus Notes
    use in a major consulting firm. While many groups
    might have routinely used Notes to share
    information with others in the firm, the actual
    usage pattern varied. Why? (This case study is
    discussed in detail in "What is Social
    Informatics and Why Does it Matter? D-Lib
    Magazine January 1999 5(1)
  • at http//www.dlib.org80/dlib/january99/kling/01kli

Lotus Notes at Price Waterhouse (1990-91)
Digital Convergence or Not Just a Matter of
  • How will the structure and use of electronic
    communications forums in scholarly communication
    evolve in the medium-run (10-15 years) at the
    field level?
  • Evolutionary Convergence or Heterogeneous

Digital Convergence or Not Just a Matter of
  • The following few slides help to illustrate an
    analysis which appears in Not Just a Matter of
    Time Field Differences in the Shaping of
    Electronic Media in Supporting Scientific
    Communication". To appear in the Journal of the
    American Society for Information Science.
  • An electronic copy is available at

  • Regardless of how different research areas move
    into the future (perhaps by some parallel and
    ultimately convergent evolutionary paths), I
    strongly suspect that on the one- to two-decade
    time scale, serious research biologists will also
    have moved to some form of global unified archive
    system, without the current partitioning and
    access restrictions familiar from the paper
    medium, for the simple reason that it is the best
    way to communicate knowledge, and hence to create
    new knowledge.
  • Paul Ginsparg, September 1999

Convergence Assumptions
  • Predicated on technological features of various
    electronic media and
  • Economic efficiencies enabled by these features
  • These efficiencies will eventually compel
    universal adoption
  • The only forces opposing them are inertia and the
    vested interests of publishers

Heterogeneous Development
  • Views e-forums as socially shaped
  • Social forces matter in determining technology
    adoption, shaping, and use
  • Social forces are more stable than mere
    individual preferences

Heterogeneous Development
  • Also views e-forums as socio-technical networks
  • Focuses on linkages, resource dependencies, and
  • Technologies inscribe social relationships
  • Access control
  • Social protocols
  • Resource dependencies
  • Social relationships matter

Examples of E-Forums in Different Fields
  • HEP/SPIRES (High-Energy Physics)
  • XXX/ (primarily Physics)
  • ISWORLD (Information Systems)
  • FlyBase (Drosophila Biology)
  • Psycoloquy (Cognitive Science)
  • NCSTRL (Computer Science)
  • Voice of the Shuttle (English)
  • PubMedCentral (Biomedicine)

Key Differences Between E-Forums
  • Materials posted before or after peer review
  • Centralized vs. distributed maintenance
  • Type of material (research papers vs. teaching
    materials vs. professional materials vs. data)
  • Degree of curation

One major model
  • -- an online repository of self-posted
    articles that is inexpensive for authors and
    readers to access is often advanced as a
    universal model for all disciplines. We will
    examine the universality of

Formal Topical Groupings of - e-Print
Astrophysics (astro-ph) Condensed Matter
(cond-mat) General Relativity and Quantum
Cosmology (gr-qc)) High Energy Physics -
Experiment (hep-ex) RK notes 4 areas for HEP
High Energy Physics - Lattice (Guage Theory)
(hep-lat) High Energy Physics - Phenomenology
(hep-ph) High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th)
Mathematical Physics (math-ph) Nuclear
Experiment (nucl-ex) Nuclear Theory (nucl-th)
Physics (physics) RK notes how much of
physics is in 1 area includes Accelerator
Physics Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics Atomic
Physics Atomic and Molecular Clusters
Biological Physics Chemical Physics
Classical Physics Computational Physics Data
Analysis, Statistics and Probability Fluid
Dynamics GeneralPhysics Geophysics History of
Physics Instrumentation and Detectors
Medical Physics Optics Physics Education
Physics and Society Plasma Physics
Popular Physics Space Physics Quantum Physics
(quant-ph new, recent, abs, find)
19 - Mathematics e-Print Archive
Mathematics (math) RK notes that all of math is
1 area vs. 4 for HEP includes Algebraic
Geometry Algebraic Topology Analysis of PDEs
Category Theory Classical Analysis
Combinatorics Complex Variables Differential
Geometry Dynamical Systems Functional Analysis
General Mathematics General Topology Geometric
Topology Group Theory History and Overview
K-Theory and Homology Linear Algebra Logic
Mathematical Physics Metric Geometry Number
Theory Numerical Analysis Operator Algebras
Optimization and Control Probability Theory
Quantum Algebra Representation Theory Rings and
Algebras Scientific Computation Spectral
Theory Symplectic Geometry
Monthly Submissions to arXiv.orgdefinitely
actively used
Since Aug 1991, total submissions 128,726
E-BioSci Controversy
  • In 1999, Hal Varmus, Director of the (US)
    National Institutes of Health proposed an e-print
    repository of self-posted articles for
    bio-medical sciences. While the orogonal proposal
    was modelled on, the final version --
    PubMedCentral -- was very different (materials
    selected by scientific societies, no unrefereed
    materials). Why wast an approach
    acceptable (or desireable) to the bio-medical
    research communities?

E-BioMed Proposal (May 5, 1999) Based on
Some Info Sources re. E-BioMed Controversy
  • Archive Of Comments On E-biomed
  • http//
  • Selected Citations Regarding E-biomed (list of
    28 articles in Science, Nature, Wall Street J.,
    Chronicle of Higher Ed, ... Etc.)
  • http//

E-BioMed Comment by Stevan Harnad, University of
Southampton, May 8, 1999
The full potential of electronic communication
has yet to be realized. The scientific community
has made only sparing use thus far of the
Internet as a means to publish scientific work
and to distribute it widely and without
significant barriers to This generally
accurate assessment of the current failure to
exploit the full potential of the Internet for
scientific publication has one prominent and
extremely relevant and important exception. It
would be much more accurate as well as helpful
to note this explicitly from the outset, as this
notable exception is very likely to be the model
for all the rest of the disciplines Physics is
the exception (and to some degree, mathematics).
It is now both an empirical and a historical fact
that well over half of the current physics
(journal) literature is freely available online
from the Los Alamos Archive and its 14 mirror
archives worldwide, and is being used by perhaps
50,000 physicists a day. (http//
-bin/show_monthly_submissions) It would be
misleading in the extreme to describe this as
"sparing use"! Instead, it should be acknowledged
that this has been a revolutionary change in
Physics, and if there were a way to extend it to
the other sciences (and the other learned
disciplines) then the full potential of
electronic communication WOULD indeed be
realized. I stress this, because to pass over
the revolution in Physics as if it had not
happened is not only to fail to give historical
facts their due, but it is to miss an important
lesson for the rest of the scientific and
scholarly world in general, and the Biomedical
Sciences in particular. http//
PubMedCentral Proposal (Aug 30, 1999)
What can we learn from the E-BioMed Controversy?
  • My talk in June, 2000 discussed the controversy
    and the ways that many US scientific societies
    opposed it. This discussion is the focus of a new
    article Rob Kling, Joanna Fortuna, Adam King,
    and Geoffrey McKim. (in press). Virtual
    Publishing, Real Stakes The Transformation of
    E-Biomed into PubMed Central. In Robin Peek
    (Ed.) Scholarly Publishing The Electronic
    Frameworks MIT Press.
  • I also discussed the way that The U.S. Dept of
    Energy developed an uncontroversial pre-preprint
    network in 1999/2000 at http//
    int/ and the politics of versus The
    Department of Energy's PrePRINT Network. This is
    the subject of 2 new articles.

The Socio-Technical Chracater of Information
  • The next part of the talk examines conventional
    technical views of Infotech (as embodied even
    in US Government documents) with a richer
    socio-technical view. An early version of this
    argument appears in A Bit More To It Scientific
    Multiple Media Communication Forums as
    Socio-Technical Interaction Networks. by R.
    Kling, Geoffrey McKim, Joanna Fortuna, and Adam
    King. It is available at
  • http//

February 8, 1996 CIRCULAR NO. A-130
Revised (Transmittal Memorandum No. 3)
(Accompanying Federal Register Materials - Feb.
Management of Federal Information Resources
Circular No. A-130 provides uniform
government-wide information resources management
policies as required by the Paperwork Reduction
Act of 1980, as amended by the Paperwork
Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35.
This Transmittal Memorandum contains updated
guidance on the "Security of Federal Automated
Information Systems," Appendix III and makes
minor technical revisions to the Circular to
reflect the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
(P.L. 104-13). The Circular is reprinted in its
entirety for convenience. Alice M.
RivlinDirector Attachment
The term "information technology" means
the hardware and software operated by a Federal
agency or by a contractor of a Federal agency or
other organization that processes information on
behalf of the Federal government to accomplish a
Federal function, regardless of the technology
involved, whether computers, telecommunications,
or others. It includes automatic data processing
equipment as that term is defined in Section
111(a)(2) of the Federal Property and
Administrative Services Act of 1949. For the
purposes of this Circular, automatic data
processing and telecommunications activities
related to certain critical national security
missions, as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(2) and 10
U.S.C. 2315, are excluded.
IT as a "socio-technical interaction network
  • comprised of
  • people (computer specialists, managers
  • hardware (computer mainframes, workstations,
    peripherals, telecommunications equipment),
  • software (operating systems, utilities and
    application programs),
  • techniques (procedures, knowhow,
  • regulatory regimes (legal contracts/social norms)
  • data

A Scientific Journals Production as a
Socio-Technical (Interaction) Network
An Electronic Journal Embedded in a
Socio-Technical Interaction Network
How Social Informatics Matters
  • The standard Tool Model underestimate the costs
    and complexities of computerization, and
    overestimate the generalizability of IT
    applications from one setting or group of
    individuals to another. -- resulting in loss
  • A major concern of Social Informatics researchers
    is to develop a cumulative body of research that
    will help many people effectively shape IT so
    that they can improve peoples work and lives.
  • Such research is trans-technologies and
    trans-institutional i.e., it develops concepts
    and theories that are applicable to understanding
    numerous kinds of ICTs and highly varied social
  • Better understand new socio-technical phenomena,
    such as the material practices of dot-coms, swift
    trust in virtual teams, .

Social Informatics Followup
  • See the Social Informatics Home page at
  • a resource about research, teaching, conferences

Scholarly Communication Followup
  • Scholarly Communication Information
    Technologies Project at
  • http//