KATERINA D. on 12 Mar 2001 16:16:42 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> a question

I was wondering if anyone could answer this question, that has to do with
the Delphi research methodology.
Does a Delphi research project have to be quantitative and statistical or
can it also be analysed qualitatively in a way similar to the analysis of
Thank you in advance,
Dionisis Panou,
Ph.D. , Communication
University of Athens,
----- Original Message -----
From: "Andreas Broeckmann" <abroeck@transmediale.de>
To: <nettime-l@bbs.thing.net>
Sent: &Tgr;&egr;&tgr;&aacgr;&rgr;&tgr;&eegr;, 7 &Mgr;&agr;&rgr;&tgr;&iacgr;&ogr;&ugr; 2001 10:13 &mgr;&mgr;
Subject: <nettime> [RRE]New European Research on the Information Society

> from: Red Rock Eater News Service (RRE)
> http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/rre.html
> New European Research on the Information Society
> Phil Agre
> http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/
> Version of 6 March 2001.
> This is a draft.  You are welcome to forward it, but please do not
> quote from it or cite it.
> 3360 words
> Research on the role of information and communications technologies
> in social change has become a global industry.  As usual, we in the
> United States assume that we lead the field.  Publications that have
> appeared in the last year, however, make it clear that the leaders
> are actually in Europe.  Below I've prepared an annotated bibliography
> of recent European research, but first some rough generalizations.
> Research on the "information society" in the United States and Europe
> can be compared and contrasted in many ways:
>  * Americans talk about "the Internet" but use the term broadly and
> inconsistently; they like the term because it connotes revolution and
> because, of course, we invented it.  Europeans talk about "information
> and communications technologies" or "ICT's", a much broader and more
> accurate term that includes areas like wireless where the Europeans
> are ahead, but also one that connotes bureaucracy and does not provoke
> the arthritic post-and-telecom (PTT) bureaucracies that continue to
> oppress European telecommunications customers.
>  * American research is organized largely through individual graduate
> students' thesis projects, although large multi-site projects are
> becoming more common; European research is organized largely through
> collective research projects that are accountable to and closely
> regulated by funding agencies.  This is one of many reasons why the
> American university system works better than the European system, and
> why European social research is better integrated with institutions
> outside the university than American social research.
>  * American research is divided between NSF, which allocates a few
> crumbs to social research once the networks and databases get their
> millions, and private foundations, which increasingly (though not
> exclusively) do their own research, usually driven directly by their
> policy agendas, rather than funding others.  In Europe, by contrast,
> the European Union is deeply committed to research on social aspects
> of computing, which is thoroughly integrated into its policy-making
> process.  Remarkably, all of these funding agencies, American and
> European alike, are run by intelligent people.
>  * The American research is more creative; the European research is
> better grounded in institutional reality.  The Americans are stronger
> at hard economics, the Europeans at institutional economics.  The
> Americans are stronger at engineering design, the Europeans at design
> methods derived from the arts and from democratic theory.  American
> research is stronger in organizational studies; European research is
> stronger in studies of broad social trends.  American theory in this
> area is more fashion-driven (again, as a broad average); European
> theory is more traditional.  American research is preoccupied with
> cyber hype -- propagating it or refuting it; European research is
> preoccupied with the policy agenda of the European Union.
>  * American research struggles endlessly to get free of technological
> determinism, for example in phrases like "impacts of computing" and
> "cyberspace" as a separate realm and a revolutionary break with the
> past whose laws are dictated simply by the workings of the machinery.
> Europeans have less of this problem.  They talk about an "information
> society" that does not denote a discontinuous break.  They produce
> vast, boring policy documents in which every issue gets its place.
> Americans hate these documents, but in many ways American thinking,
> for all its creativity, is fragmented as a result.
>  * The Americans have a more evolved infrastructure, so they have more
> complex technology-driven social practices to study.  This is largely
> because the US scientific leadership, led by ARPA but including the
> top ranks of NSF, the major supercomputer labs, and IBM, is extremely
> intelligent and well-organized.  (Silicon Valley makes noise, but no
> way does it set agendas for technological development.)  The Europeans
> are better than the United States at setting standards.  They are
> also better at industrial policy, for example supporting industrial
> regions like the wireless industry in Scandinavia.  (Our industrial
> policy is to hire big-shot professors and let them start companies.
> Beyond that, however, lots of American jurisdictions have shallow
> and wasteful ideas of what it would take to get themselves a Silicon
> Valley of their own.)  So the European research is more driven by
> industrial agendas.  In the United States you get digital library
> research, which Silicon Valley has barely heard of even though it's
> concentrated in California; and in Europe you get research on people
> using wireless.  Wireless is changing the world now; digital libraries
> will change the world in ten years; both require social research if
> they're going to be done well.
>  * The United States and Europe both have enormous public concern with
> the impact of new technologies on social equality, but the Europeans
> have a much stronger conceptualization of the issues.  The American
> language of "information haves and have-nots" hardly names the problem,
> much less pointing toward a solution.  The European (especially British)
> language of "social inclusion and exclusion", while sounding much like
> fingernails on a chalkboard to many people, names the problem in a way
> that's actionable, and that places ICTs into a vastly broader context.
> Europeans will no doubt lecture me on the inadequacy of the European
> policy response to date, but my only point is the comparison to the US.
>  * Reports on the American research are hard to get hold of because so
> many are published in new journals that many research libraries don't
> carry; reports on the European research are hard to get hold of because
> so many are written for granting agencies.
>  * Final caveat: Just to be clear, I'm not saying that all European
> research on the information society is valuable or that all American
> research is bad.  To the contrary, the EU system produces a lot of
> vacuous consultant reports along with the legitimate work, and this
> list has already recommended piles of high-quality research being done
> in the US.
> With those rough generalizations out of the way, here is an annotated
> bibliography of European research on the information society.  I have
> focused on new books (rather than older works, journal articles, or
> book chapters), with a couple of exceptions.  This list is by no means
> complete, and I am sure that it could be doubled.  Some of the entries
> have already been recommended on this mailing list; others have not.
> Cristiano Antonelli, New information technology and the evolution of
> the industrial organisation of the production of knowledge, in Stuart
> Macdonald and John Nightingale, eds, Information and Organization: A
> Tribute to the Work of Don Lamberton, Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1999.
> This is a frighteningly sophisticated theoretical account of the
> role of networked information services in the evolution of industry
> structure.  It emerges from a large community of people with economics
> training working in management schools who study the interaction
> between technical architecture and industry structure.  This is
> an area where good work is being done in the United States as well,
> though on this specific topic Antonelli's article in a class by itself.
> Joan Bliss, Roger Saljo, and Paul Light, eds, Learning Sites: Social
> and Technological Resources for Learning, Oxford: Pergamon, 1999.
> This is an interesting collection of work about learning technology
> based on the educational theories of the Russian psychologist L. S.
> Vygotsky.  (Good research on educational technology in this tradition
> is also happening in the US as well, for example at UC San Diego.)
> Lengthy excerpt from this book can be found in the RRE advertisement:
> <http://commons.somewhere.com/rre/2000/RRE.Social.and.Technolog.html>.
> Susanne Bodker, Morten Kyng, and Kjeld Schmidt, eds, Proceedings of
> the Sixth European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work,
> Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1999.  Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW),
> as it name implies, is the field that develops technical tools to
> support cooperative work.  It turns out that so-called groupware
> tools fail ignominiously without a strong understanding of the social
> processes of group work, and so CSCW research must integrate its
> technical and social sides to a greater degree than perhaps any other
> field.  This is very hard because technologists and social scientists
> live on entirely different planets.  This can make for conferences
> with the two sides standing at opposite sides of the room, wondering
> how to interact.  Both the Americans and the Europeans try hard to
> overcome the differences, but the Europeans have had more success.
> Gro Bjerknes, Pelle Ehn, and Morten Kyng, eds, Computers and
> Democracy: A Scandinavian Challenge, Aldershot, UK: Avebury, 1987.
> I'm including this book even though it's old by now.  It is one of
> the first manifestos of the participatory design movement that got
> started in Norway in the 1970's, and that has subsequently become
> institutionalized throughout Scandinavia.  It began with projects
> to include labor unions in the design of workplace technologies,
> and it has generalized into a whole culture of design for involving
> users in the design process.  This means contending with the problem
> that "users don't know what they want", and with the consequences
> of bringing the inevitably political nature of design to the surface
> in formal democratic design processes.  I'm not clear why there have
> been so few edited volumes or major theoretical works on participatory
> design in the last few years.  Research in the field is hardly dead,
> as the proceedings of the Participatory Design Conference makes clear.
> It's more that the Scandinavians take participatory design for granted
> and move forward from there.
> Hans-Joachim Braczyk, Gerhard Fuchs, and Hans-Georg Wolf, eds,
> Multimedia and Regional Economic Restructuring, London: Routledge,
> 1999.  This is perhaps the strongest collection of studies of the
> impact of information technology on economic geography.
> Mark Casson, Information and Organization: A New Perspective on the
> Theory of the Firm, Clarendon Press, 1997.  This is a very original
> theoretical analysis of the place of information in industrial
> organization.  Economics worldwide is dominated by the neoclassical
> school, which tends to assume away most problems of information.
> But the UK is home to a number of interesting heterodox economists,
> and Casson is particularly interesting because he moves easily between
> the neoclassical and institutional camps.  In this book his starting
> point is the observation that every organization is an intermediary
> between individual workers and individual consumers.  So in a sense
> every organization's existence needs to be justified, and one way
> to justify an intermediary is in terms of its role in gathering and
> processing information.  A few simple observations along these lines
> generate a tremendous variety of interesting consequences, or at least
> interesting hypotheses.
> Claudio U. Ciborra, ed, From Control to Drift: The Dynamics of
> Corporate Information Infrastructures, Oxford: Oxford University
> Press, 2000.  This is a project from Oslo about the organizational
> realities of information technology standards.  They draw on network
> economics and actor-network theory in some extended case studies of
> frustrated standardization projects in various European companies.
> Any large organization will have a legacy of heterogeneous systems,
> and transitions to new standards such as the Internet are inevitably
> political and logistical messes.
> Sally Criddle, Lorcan Dempsey, and Richard Heseltine, eds, Information
> Landscapes for a Learning Society, London: Library Association, 1999.
> The British are leaders in rethinking information services in the
> new digital world, for example by integrating library services with
> instructional media services and the like in the university context.
> This book gathers reports on initiatives from (mostly) British library
> people.
> Ken Ducatel, Juliet Webster, and Werner Herrmann, eds, The Information
> Society in Europe: Work and Life in an Age of Globalization, Rowman
> and Littlefield, 2000.  This volume is a good sample of the sort of
> critically minded research on the information society that happens
> under the umbrella of the European Union without being by any means
> dictated in its substance by the bureaucracy.  It has many outstanding
> qualities, starting with its clear grasp of the many-dimensional
> concrete reality of a functioning information society on planet Earth.
> Topics include regional development, new organizational forms, the
> labor market, and ICT applications in health, education and politics.
> Anthony Dunne, Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic
> Experience and Critical Design, Art Books, 2000.  This book comes
> from a thesis at the Royal College of Art in London, which is
> one of the most interesting sources of artistically minded design
> of digital products.  It indulges more in fashion-theory than I
> probably would; it takes Baudrillard seriously in a way that I can't.
> It is challenging and often confounding.  But it is also a serious
> and sustained inquiry into the meanings of digital products, and
> particularly the strange problem of the meaning of an object that
> gives physical form to information.
> William H. Dutton, Society on the Line: Information Politics in the
> Digital Age, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.  The author is
> American, but the book is a summary and synthesis of research done
> in the UK under the sponsorship of the Economic and Social Research
> Council (ESRC), which has sponsored a great deal of high-quality
> work, most recently the Virtual Society? project led by Steve Woolgar
> (see <http://virtualsociety.sbs.ox.ac.uk/>).  (I hear that another,
> similar large-group ESRC project is in the works.)  Its unifying theme
> is what Dutton calls tele-access: the socially constructed conditions
> under which people get access to technology and information of various
> sorts.  This includes privacy and data protection, free speech issues,
> equity issues of access to technology, and so on.  Although pretty
> much written by Bill, the book includes brief sections contributed
> by people involved in the project.  You can find the RRE advertisement
> for the book here: <http://www.tao.ca/wind/rre/0618.html>.
> Richard Hawkins, Robin Mansell, and Jim Skea, eds, Standards,
> Innovation and Competitiveness: The Politics and Economics of
> Standards in Natural and Technical Environments, Aldershot, UK: Elgar,
> 1995.  This book on standards dynamics is one of several books on the
> list from SPRU <http://www.susx.ac.uk/spru/>, a research center at the
> University of Sussex which gained fame as the Science Policy Research
> Unit but is now called Science and Technology Policy Research.  Like
> much SPRU work, this book is based on case studies without presenting
> case-study material at great length.
> Jens Hoff, Ivan Horrocks, and Pieter Tops, eds, Democratic Governance
> and New Technology: Technologically Mediated Innovations in Political
> Practice in Western Europe, London: Routledge, 2000.  This is, to my
> knowledge, the best book about information technology and democracy.
> Although it is an edited book, the chapters result from an integrated
> project and the book unfolds more or less linearly.  The strength of
> this book, as with much European work about technology and democracy,
> is its grounding both in democratic theory and in the practice of
> public administration (as opposed to the electoral and legislative
> systems).  The first couple of chapters, which are short and dense,
> are the best outline of the relationship between various visions of
> Internet democracy and the historical philosophies of democracy such
> as corporatism and republicanism.  The book is, unforunately, too
> trapped by the cyberspace / virtual-reality theory of politics to
> develop a strong alternative theory.  Nonetheless, all paths forward
> lead through close study of this book.
> The November/December 1999 issue of the ACM Magazine "Interactions",
> which is a special issue about an EU research project called Maypole
> on family snapshots and their migration to digital media.  The EU
> has gone to great lengths to organize international research programs,
> and this magazine issue reflects the coordinated nature of the project
> in its unified graphic design.  This kind of advanced culture of
> collaboration means that the project crosses disciplinary boundaries
> in a productive way, for example mixing ethnographic studies of family
> snapshots with industrial design studies of products and services that
> the families might find useful.  Some details can be found on the Web:
> <http://www.acm.org/pubs/contents/journals/interactions/1999-6/#6>.
> I particularly recommend Dick Rijken's article, "Information in space:
> Explorations in media and architecture".
> Toru Ishida and Katherine Isbister, eds, Digital Cities: Technologies,
> Experiences, and Future Perspectives, Berlin: Springer, 2000.  The
> editors are Japanese and American, and the best chapter is a very
> strong theoretical piece by Bill Mitchell (an Australian now teaching
> at MIT), but the core of this book is the European civic networking
> movement, which has gotten much more support from city governments and
> social movements than the stalled community networking movement in the
> United States.  Most of the chapters are straightforward descriptions
> of the projects, some of which are more real than others.  Still the
> overall effect is impressive.
> Liberty, Liberating Cyberspace: Civil Liberties, Human Rights and
> the Internet, London: Pluto, 1999.  This is a worthwhile book about,
> as the title says, civil liberties and human rights issues relating
> to the Internet.  The roster of issues will be familiar (copyright,
> cryptography, content regulation, etc), and is not much different
> in Europe than in the United States.  But the context of the European
> and global human rights movement provides a different philosophical
> and social grounding to the analysis than the Bill-of-Rights analysis
> in the US.
> Robin Mansell and Roger Silverstone, eds, Communication by Design: The
> Politics of Information and Communication Technologies, Oxford: Oxford
> University Press, 1996.  This is another very strong book from SPRU,
> largely about the role of political and economic factors in the social
> shaping of standards for things like electronic commerce.  What's most
> impressive is not so mcuh the daring of their theories but the huge
> amount of case study that the analysis is obviously based on.  Mansell
> and Silverstone are both now at the London School of Economics.
> Robin Mansell and W. Edward Steinmueller, Mobilizing the Information
> Society: Strategies for Growth and Opportunity, Oxford: Oxford
> University Press, 2000.  This tome sums up SPRU's EU-funded research
> on information society topics for the last several years.  Although
> it is consistently worthwhile, it is most interesting on the changing
> role of intermediaries in an information-society industry structure.
> Everybody knows that the simple story of disintermediation is not
> right, and some American research has provided a theoretical basis
> for the study of new patterns of intermediation, but it is SPRU
> that has done the strongest and most sustained study of real cases.
> Robin Mansell and Uta Wehn, eds, Knowledge Societies: Information
> Technology for Sustainable Development, New York: Oxford University
> Press, 1998.  This volume, yet another SPRU product, synthesizes a
> large-scale collaborative project to provide advice on the role of
> information technology in development in the third world.  There's
> an immense demand for this information, and this volume gathers all
> the weightiest research findings and best common sense in one place.
> Roza Tsagarousianou, Damian Tambini, and Cathy Bryan, eds,
> Cyberdemocracy: Technology, Cities and Civic Networks, London:
> Routledge, 1998.  This is a more theoretically minded book from the
> European civic networking movement, including chapters on projects
> from the UK, Italy, Greece, Germany, and the Netherlands, together
> with one project from the United States.  It is free of hype of both
> the enthusiastic and skeptical sorts.
> W. B. H. J. van de Donk, I. Th. M. Snellen, and P. W. Tops, eds,
> Orwell in Athens: A Perspective on Informatization and Democracy,
> Amsterdam: IOS Press, 1995.  This is a serious and thoughtful book
> about ICT's in public administration.  Like the Hoff, Horrocks, and
> Tops volume above (not coincidentally also led by a Dutch group),
> it brings a deep and sensible knowledge of democratic theory to
> bear on a wide range of practical problems of computing in public
> administration, such as the involvement of ordinary citizens in
> bureaucratic decision-making, access to public information, merger
> of data from different sources, and community access to government
> through computer networks.  (Wim van de Donk is also the coeditor
> with Stephen Coleman and John Taylor of a book that I haven't managed
> to get my hands on yet, Parliament in the Age of the Internet, Oxford
> University Press, 1999; and the coeditor with Ig Snellen of another
> book that has escaped me, Public Administration in an Information Age:
> A Handbook, Amsterdam: IOS Press, 1998.)
> Jan van Dijk, The Network Society: Social Aspects of New Media,
> translated by Leontine Spoorenberg, London: Sage, 1999.  This is
> one of the best all-around surveys of social issues raised by new
> media.  It is thoughtful and clearly reasoned, and it is theoretical
> without being caught up in self-indulgent fashion.  It will not be
> news to people who follow these issues closely, but if I were running
> a class and wanted to get beyond the tedious controversies between
> enthusiasts and skeptics, I would consider assigning this as a text.
> end
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