[Air-L] CFP: The Information Society sp issue "Regimes of Information"
hsawhney at indiana.edu
Thu Aug 2 16:50:18 PDT 2012
The Information Society
Call for Papers:
Regimes of Information: Embeddedness as Paradox
Hamid Ekbia, Jannis Kallinikos, and Bonnie Nardi
The friction between situated modes of interaction and the structural
arrange-ments into which such interaction is embedded is intrinsic to
the modern way of life. As social order, modernity thrives on the
mobility of people and resources, which require the support of complex,
standardized and decontextualized sys-tems of measurement, exchange and
control (Heller 1999). Social practices, by contrast, have always been
constituted as regional or domain-specific arrange-ments, clearly
marked off from the background of wider societal and institu-tional
orders. While neither can exist without the other, the social dynamics
characteristic of our time can perhaps be understood as transient and
manifold resolutions of the ever-present friction between institutional
orders of wider reach and the particular contexts or domains within
which social practice by ne-cessity unfolds.
This friction acquires new forms as the result of social and
technological devel-opments that are associated with the deepening
penetration of the social fabric by various kinds of digital
information. Since the advent of writing, information and the marks by
which it is carried have been constituted so as to withstand time
depreciation (Borgmann 1999; Bowker 2005) and to transcend the bounds
of practice (Gleick 2011). Organizations, for instance, would have
never been able to become the persistent social formations they are
without standardized information on the basis of which resources and
outcomes can be assessed and compared across space and time (Beniger
1986). Similarly, practices in domains such as medicine and education
often need to be compared with practices de-rived from the sphere of
economy, which requires the development of standardi-zed cognitive
idioms able to cut across domain specifities (Borgmann 1999;
Kal-linikos 2006). These standardized and decontextualized attributes
of informa-tion have been carried to new levels of perfection by
digital technology and its ability to separate and reassemble the marks
(data and data fields) from the very content by which information is
defined, through automated, machine-enacted rules.
On the one hand, information owes much of its value to the contingent
nature of the events it helps illuminate and manage. The meaning and
value of information is relative to the expectations of social agents,
and only to the degree that it is recognized as relevant to their
dealings -- it is a difference that makes a differ-ence (Bateson 1972).
That relevance is, in turn, circumscribed locally in particu-lar
contexts that dictate the priorities, skills and tools of practice
(Garfinkel 2008; Rawls 2008). One can even go further and claim that
information cannot but be constituted (rather than simply interpreted)
as information locally, at the moment its relevance to a background of
practice is born, figured or traced. In-formation is in fact part and
parcel of a complex web of significations, a regime, as it were,
against which it is perceived and acted upon (Ekbia and Evans 2009). In
this respect, information may depreciate rapidly as the contingent
upshot of events against which it makes sense fade, despite the
impressive technological structures that support its production,
diffusion and storage. Practices by con-trast, while locally bound and
less standardized, can survive the ups and downs of events and maintain
its integrity and persistence over time.
The friction between the specific and domain-bound nature of
information and its context-free attributes has often been glossed over
in contemporary social research, and occasionally suppressed by the
epistemological and ontological divisions that afflict current academic
inquiry, especially in the Anglo-American tradition. The purpose of
this special issue is to expose and understand the in-herent frictions
outlined above. We invite theoretical and empirical contribu-tions that
explore this topic. Our aim is to reframe the problematic rather than
provide definite answers, but we also welcome practically oriented
research that shows ways of dealing with the tensions between the
mandates of disem-beddedness and the demands of specific situations.
Individuals, organizations, and communities face these tensions in
their lives and practices on a day-to-day basis, often with high
psychological, operational, or political cost but also as oc-casions
for creativity and innovation. We are interested in both the hurdles
and opportunities. Our ultimate hope is to open up a dialogue in the
information and social sciences on the socio-cultural, moral, and
political challenges and implica-tions of dealing with such tensions.
Interested authors are invited to email a long abstract (no longer than
a thou-sand words) to the guest editors by December 31, 2012:
hekbia at indiana.edu, J.Kallinikos at lse.ac.uk, nardi at ics.uci.edu. Authors
of selected abstracts will be invited to submit full submissions by
August 31, 2013, which will go through the standard peer review process
of TIS. The special issue is slated for publication in the summer of
Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to An Ecology of Mind. New York: Ballantine.
Borgmann, A. (1999). Holding on to Reality: The Nature of Information
at the Turn of the Millennium. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Bowker, G. C. (2005). Memory Practices in Sciences. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Ekbia, H. & Evans, T. (2009). Regimes of Information: Land Use,
Management, and Policy. The Information Society, 25(5), 328343.
Garfinkel, H. (2008). Toward a Sociological Theory of Information.
London: Para-digm Publishers (edited and introduced by Anne Warfield
Gleick, J. (2011). The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood.
London: Harper Collins.
Heller, A. (1999). A Theory of Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kallinikos, J. (2006). The Consequences of Information: Institutional
Implications of Technological Change. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Rawls, A. W. (2008). Editors Introduction, in Garfinkel, H., Toward a
Sociological Theory of Information. London: Paradigm Publishers.
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