This book provides one of the first clear-headed assessments of information technology and organizational transformation. Its virtue is not so much in its recognition of the importance of the subject; speculations on this topic have been rampant for more than a decade. Rather, it is unusual and unusually useful, because it avoids speculation in favor of conceptually coherent accounts grounded in empirical study of actual organizations. The chapters contained in this volume move beyond the superficial glorification of information technology as an extraordinary instrument of social change, and straight to the heart of the mechanisms of change as they play out in everyday organizational life. In the process, they reaffirm that the real story of information technology in organizations is more about people than about technology. Taken together, they provide an important contribution to the intellectual foundations of one of the most interesting developments in decades.

Steps toward an Ecology of Infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces

Steps toward an ecology of infrastructure: Design and access for large information spaces
Susan LeighStarKarenRuhleder

An electronic community system is a computer system which encodes the knowledge of a community and provides an environment which supports manipulation of that knowledge. Different communities have different knowledge, but their environment has great similarities. The community knowledge might be thought of as being stored in an electronic library.

—Bruce Schatz (1991, p. 88)

Does virtual community work or not? Should we all go off to cyberspace, or should we resist it as a demonic form of symbolic abstraction? Does it supplant the real, or is there, in it, reality itself? Like so many true things, this one doesn't resolve ...

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