Information Communication Technology 1

A history or work

¡  Greek word: ponos (sorrow)

¡  Ruling classes: ”politics, warfare, the arts, and philosophy”

¡  Slaves: ”brutalizing and uncivilized. . . . physical work”

¡  Division of social roles

Cultural Significance of Work

¡  Judeo-Christian Narrative: Leaving the Garden

§  Divine punishment: establish concept of original sin

§  Narrative of exile & the need for labour

¡  Hierarchies of work developed by St. Thomas Aquinas in 13th C: priests, agricultural, and craft workers

¡  Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther promoted “work as a central component of human life,” as a vital “calling,” while viewing “work for profit negatively”

A history of work

¡  “Protestant work ethic” (Weber): Work as central component of human life.

                “A grim Calvinism that offered wealth only through hard work and savings, and even then made no promises at all. You might work hard and still fail” (Ehrenreich 2008)

¡  Hard work: “moral obligation” (spiritual compensation for debt)

§  Vital to maintaining power and privilege

§  Link salvation to work and accumulation

The Labour Divide

¡  Agricultural  |  Industrial  |  Post-industrial

¡  Rural  |  Urban

¡  Material  |  Abstract (Virtual)

¡  Manual  |  Intellectual

Technologies in Workplace: A History

The promise of delivery from toil:

  • “Suppose that every tool we had could perform its function, either at our bidding, or itself perceiving the need. . . . Suppose that shuttles in a loom could fly to and fro and a plucker play on a lyre all self-moved, then manufacturers would have no need of workers nor masters of slaves.” Aristotle (384-322 BCE), Practical Philosophy
Technologies in Workplace: A History of Time

¡  “During the first seven centuries of the machine’s existence the categories of time and space underwent an extraordinary change. . . . the new mechanical conception of time arose in part out of the routine of the monastery. . . . The clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours, but of synchronizing the actions of men. .  . . It dissociated time from human events and helped to create the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences: the special world of science.” Lewis Mumford, 1934

Technology: On Origins

“In fact, technological innovation, while imaginative and clever, is never something wholly original. It is always a combination of what has come before, of other technologies brought together in new combinations to solve a problem, or to help harness a newly discovered phenomenon.”


(Schachter 2009, on Brian Arthur's On The Nature of Technology)

¡  Partial Technologies: contemporary technologies and techniques are never “complete” but evolve and mutate (Arnold Pacey, 2001)

¡  Technologies are not natural but a recombined and relatively stable assembly of different things and processes

Communications Technology

¡  Writing (cuneiform): c. 3000 BCE

¡  Wood-fiber paper: c. 105 CE (China). 

¡  Ink: 400 CE

¡  Wood-fiber paper mills in Europe: c. 1400 CE

¡  Gutenberg’s Press: 1436

¡  Typewriter: 1868

¡  First practical fountain pen: 1884

¡  Ballpoint pen: 1938

¡  Programmable Computer: 1936

¡  Consumer Computers: 1974

¡  The Internet: 1983

¡  Miniaturization/Mobility: 1990

¡  Email: 1993

¡  WWW: 1995

¡  Blackberry 1999

¡  YouTube, Web 2.0: 2002

¡  Facebook, MySpace: 2004

¡  Twitter: 2006

¡  The  Cloud: 2009 - ?

Technology: Opportunity & Challenges

¡  Telecommunications: Greek tele (far off) + Latin communicare (to share)

§  $1.5 trillion 0r 3% of gross world product (VoIPMag 2005)

¡  Wireless: Smoke signals and drums, semaphore, Morse (1837), Bell (1876), Marconi (1907), Baird (1925)

¡  From the Gutenberg Galaxy to the Global Village

¡  Print technologies (including stereotype) and progress

¡  Literacy, democracy, education

Evolution of Communication Media: The Book

Technological Assemblage

¡  Moveable type

¡  Printing press

¡  Standardization & reliability

¡  Publication houses

¡  Transportation networks

¡  Drifting distribution & delivery

¡  Paper production

¡  Durable materials

¡  Industry & economic production

Social, Economic, and Political Implications

¡  Travel of ideas  & knowledge

¡  Democratization of language

¡  Early form of open source file sharing

¡  Problem of control/fidelity for producers

¡  Intellectual property & markets

¡  Interpretive communities

¡  Supplemental discourses of opinion & distinction

¡  Public spheres

¡  New economies of expertise

¡  Hierarchies of symbolic & social power


¡  Prosthetic: Space & Time-Binding (Harold Innis, 1952)

¡  “Technology is society made durable.” (Bruno Latour, 1994)

¡  Technologies are not “black boxes” but social processes. (Carolyn Marvin, 1989)

¡  “Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.” (Jacques Ellul, 1967)

¡  The Network Society: a lived condition we constitute (Manuel Castells, 2000)

¡  Technological Citizenship: technology as a way of life (Darin Barney, 2008)

Technology as Ethics?

¡  “We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.”Marshall McLuhan, (1966) Understanding Media

¡  Technology as cultural conduct: instrumental benefits v. corruption of the good life?  (Barney 2008)

Before “Globalization”

¡  Earlier cultures worked through common languages, shared values.

§  Where differences existed, violence arose.

§  Colonialism, imperialism, and trade: encounters and confrontations

§  Assimilate: erase and efface

¡  In a “globalised” economy, what is our common language? What are our common values?

§  Global universal values?

§  Global civil society?

§  Nationalism v,. Cosmopolitanism?

§  Human security?

Knowledge Economy Anxieties

¡  Writing, Researching, and Talking Back (Smith, 1999)

¡  “Content cloning” or the new plagiarism (Lamb, 2004)

¡  Genuinely “interactive space” or “a glorified television channel” (Berners-Lee; cit. Lamb, 2004)

¡  Talkative society (Sciadis, 2006) or Conversation Economy (Armano, 2007)

¡  The Tower and the Cloud (2009, Wesch)

¡  Authorship and authority, origins and originality, Intellectual Property rights: Google and authorial copyright, 2009.

¡  Community Copyright, Public Domain, Copyleft

¡  Ongoing anxieties about control, dissemination, and ownership of knowledge

Globalization and Its Discontents

¡  Globalization often defined in terms of the postmodern, post-industrial, new (digital) economy, post-national and deterritorializing discourses nourished by theories of ICT

¡  What has been globalized, and with what level of ease?:

§  Capital, economies, culture, communications, social practices, commodities, people?

¡  Not integration but intersections of social, economic, political, and cultural networks

¡  “[F]undamental changes in the spatial and temporal contours of social existence, according to which the significance of space or territory undergoes shifts in the face of a no less dramatic acceleration in the temporal structure of crucial forms of human activity.” (Global Transformations)          

Globalization as Site of Struggle

¡  Deterritorializing

¡  Post-industrial progress

¡  Deregulation

¡  Internationalizing

¡  Post/transnational

¡  “Free trade” agreements

¡  “Welfare state”

¡  “Cult of efficiency”

¡  mobility

¡  Good jobs

¡  Employment

¡  Outsourcing

¡  Reterritorializating

¡  “Aggravated inequality” (Martin)

¡  Reregulation

¡  Forced harmonizing

¡  National consolidation/local labour         

¡  Regressive immigration policies

¡  Neo-conservative agenda

¡  Worker immobility

¡  “Nonstandard contingent work” (maquiladora factories)

¡  “Natural” levels of unemployment

¡  Digital waste, sweatshops

Working the Knowledge Economy

¡  Knowledge workers: “the elite of the postindustrial age”

§  “Symbolic analysts” v. “routine production work[ers]” and “in-person services”

¡  “Increased inequality in American society in the past decades”

¡  Job deskilling

¡  Reduced job security and increased stress even in IT sector (Galt, 2007)

¡  Digital and other divides

Information Age & Network Societies

¡  From interest in “difference question” to new questions about relations among media: what it means to live in a multimedia and “multicommunicating environment” (Jackson, 2007)

¡  “Democracy cannot be maintained without its foundation in free public opinion and free discussion throughout the nation of all matters affecting the state within the limits set by the criminal code and the common law.” (Supreme Court of Canada, 1938).

¡  Democratization of media or culture of secrecy

§  From the printing press to the Internet, threats to government secrecy spawn rationales for it (Atherton, 2007)

§  Google in China: democratization or tight regulation

§  RIM in Saudi Arabia and India: data encryption

¡  With each technological expansion comes a struggle over the right to control the technology.  Filesharing, for example.

§  Public and private rights

§  Opportunities and obligations

§  Overdetermined moral arguments about benevolent corporations enabling new products in socially responsible ways?

Challenges: The IT Office

¡  Lament for organic life of harmony?

§  “Technology was supposed to make us free: Instead, it has enslaved us. (Alan Lightman, 2002).

¡  The colonization of life by work?

§  New technologies . . . have permanently wired employees to their jobs” (Williams, 2003).

Challenges: IT & Work

¡  IT contributes to overall productivity and lifelong learning, but“In cyberspace, bodies do not matter--though cyberspace matters . . . in the life of bodies.” (Bauman, 1998: 19)

¡  Since 1991 increased stress levels, more family members working (and longer hours), increased borrowing (Stats Canada; Vanier Institute study, 2002)

¡  Canadian job quality in last decade: increased income inequality, decreased benefits, increased absenteeism, stagnated training and satisfaction (Lowe, 2007)

¡   “Images of a ‘leisure society’ created through the labour-saving potential of technology seem more utopian today than when first proposed in the 1960s and 1970s” (Lowe 2003).

Challenges: Information Age/Knowledge Economy

¡  Disclosure and transparency: official secrecy vs. public right to know

¡  Canadian Access to Information Act, 1983 (US legislation, 1966)

§  Almost 50% of 85 public record requests refused (court documents, water quality report, food safety warnings)

§   40% success on written request under information laws (3rd National Freedom of Information Audit, 2007; Crib & Vallance-Jones, 2007)

No Access to Information?

¡  “The ati law has spawned such fear and contempt in Ottawa that some civil servants now communicate orally or use sticky notes to avoid creating a trail. These approaches speak to the overarching need of Canadian bureaucracies to control their information at all costs, lest something damaging come out on the floor of Parliament or in the media. One tactic in particular — delay, delay, and delay — has created such a massive logjam of requests that it threatens to crash the entire access system. Gil Shochat, 2010

Privacy, Access, and Disclosure

¡  Currently: Ministry of Natural Resources interfered with ATI requests (2010)

¡  Access to Information requests exposed:

§  Sponsorship scandal (1995-2000)

§  Treatment of detainees in Afghanistan (2008-2010)

§  Transport Canada aviation safety statistics

§  Adverse drug reactions among youth taking anti-depressants

§  Deaths of thousands of seniors from prescribed drugs without Canada Health warnings (Curry, 2007)

¡  Lobbying and research

¡  Advocacy and social policy

Porous Webs & Nets?

¡  Leaks: “The volume of new media options contributes to CEO fear” (Furiga, 2007).

Hard security v. soft security

¡  Wiki space like “a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbours are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing. This ethic is at the heart of ‘soft security,’ which relies on the community, rather than technology, to enforce order” (Lamb, 2004, p. 40).

Public Policy

¡  Digital infrastructures?

¡  Cyberthreats?

¡  Cybersecurity?

Information, Knowledge, and Feedback

¡  Culture of soft surveillance

§  Data feedback loops

§  Mining, harvesting, and capitalizing on analytics

¡  Privacy and security risks extended in online world where public/private, internal/external, insider/outsider, reader/writer boundaries breached

¡  Heightened need for effective communication and clear policy, training, tracking, and evaluation

Privacy Undermined?

¡  “The Web is simply the most visible fragment of a system that includes everything from credit-score reports to radio-frequency-identification tags. Human beings are creating new data at an exponentially growing rate, and much of that data is personal. The stakes are high. Privacy legislation in many countries was never tailored for the Internet age. As such, a host of nations - including Canada - are rethinking the very concept, and how to protect it in a world where personal information is becoming a form of currency.”Krashinsky & Akkad, G&M, 13 August 2010

Seamless: Google Algorithm

¡  “When Google was a pure search engine, it was easy to appear agnostic about search results, with no reason to play favorites with one Web site or another. But as Google has branched out into online services from maps and videos to comparison shopping, it has acquired pecuniary incentives to favor its own over rivals.”NYT, 14 July 2010

Overarching IT Issues

Overarching IT concerns

¡  Lack of policy means lack of control.

¡  Lack of control means lack of security.

¡  Concern extends from the individual user to the organization.

¡  Content ownership & electronic evidence

§  “Corporate emails are the number one discovery request in litigation.” (Martin 2007)

Top IT issues (Trites 2008)

¡  1. Availability of IT skills

¡  2. Privacy

¡  3. Outsourcing

¡  4. IT governance

¡  5. Information overload

¡  6. IT value

¡  7. IT controls awareness

¡  8. Social networking

¡  9. Green computing

¡  10. Data controls and assurance

Top IT issues for 2008 (Trites 2008)

1.            Availability of IT skills

¡  In 2007, demand for IT skills in Canada rose by 17% in just one year.

¡  Shortage of IT workers affects overall ability to deliver IT services.

¡  Following the collapse of dot-com in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, numbers dropped in available workers.  This has resulted in the current situation for IT in business and society.

2.            Privacy

¡  National and international laws/agreements to protect privacy, confidentiality of information.

¡  Privacy issues can be critical, for example, when the information deals with personal payment information. 

¡  Privacy is an ongoing major IT management issue.

¡  Winners and Homesense example: transactions between 2003 and 2006: est. as many as 2,000,000 Canadian Visa holders had their information stolen.

3. Outsourcing

¡  Concerns about quality and staff turnover.

¡  Multicultural teams raise concerns about communications, quality, and testing.

§  Consistency

§  Norms

§  Values

¡  Outsourcing grew in the past year, and as indicated earlier, is likely to maintain this growth as the search for IT talent continues. Outsourcing involves offshoring, and some offshore teams have quality and staff turnover issues. System development projects in multicultural environments sometimes include communications, quality and testing issues. Moreover, ensuring compliance with local legislative requirements (such as PIPEDA) by offshoring service providers can be a challenge.

4.            IT governance  

¡  Establishing IT as an integrated part of organizational structure.

¡  Establishing a place for IT within management structures, rather than delegating it to the IT guys in the basement. IT VP, for example, specialized monitoring within the organization to oversee the alignment of IT strategies with other strategies.  Especially important within the communication realm.  (McCain of Maple Leaf Foods, for example, utlizes a range of IT, especially in light of recent events.  Webcasts, Podcasts, in addition to e forms of traditional communications.

5.  Information overload

¡  Multiple IT channels funnel a constant stream of voice messages, emails, IMs, each carrying an expectation of speedy response. 

§  Perception of innovation and necessity of provision

§  Implementation as cosmetic, expressive, or reactionary

¡  BBs, etc.  Stuff they do not need, but cannot ignore.

¡  IABC Survey of Communicators and Executives (2006):

§  81% felt they received too much e-mail.

§  37% felt they sent too much email.

§  85% felt that e-mail overload negatively affected productivity.

§  61% felt that they received too much external origin email.

§  21% felt that they received too little internal email from company sources.

¡  Blackberry users feel they send more emails than others, and spend more time responding to email. 

Aside: Generational Abilities?

¡  Digital Natives v. Digital Immigrants

§  Naturalize, normalize & “build-in” technology

¡  "Exposure to these new technologies may be pushing the Net Generation brain past conventional limitations." – Don Tapscott, 2009.

¡  Continuous Partial Attention (Linda Stone, 2009)

§  Not multitasking but switching between parallel activities

6.  IT value

¡  The role of IT in strategic goal achievement.

§  Link to strategic advantage and operations

§  Sustain long-term business success

¡  Grows out of governance.  Measure results, evaluated performance.  Determining the worth of IT in meeting organizational strategic goals.


7.  IT controls awareness

¡  People, not computers, make the controls work. 

§  Basic Input Output System (BIOS)

§  Algorithms

¡  Significant to business as a whole, not just the IT department. 

¡  Protecting data and information.  Development of policies, business-wide awareness. 

8.            Social networking

¡  The blurring of personal and professional networking.

¡  A matter for policy to limit information disclosure and liability.  

¡  Potential use for internal/external communications with stakeholders.

¡  Significance of SN.  Number of concerns:  security of information chief among them.  Establish policies.  Professional Social networking (LinkedIn, for example).  Possible negatives: cybersmearing, for instance.  Most Facebook groups. (Goldsmith 2008: SN has surpassed porn as most common surfing goal).

9.            Green computing

¡  Policies to control power consumption, disposal of equipment, radiation control and printing controls.

¡  While IT gives us the impression of a “paperless” economy, it does, in fact, pose environmental concerns.

10. Data controls and assurance

¡  Data is on the move.

¡  Security and controls must follow the data.

¡  Portable data (flash drives, remote access, BBs, etc.)

The Song Remains the Same

¡  Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

  1. Cloud Computing
  2. Advanced Analytics
  3. Client Computing
  4. IT for Green
  5. Reshaping the Data Centre
  6. Social Computing
  7. Security: Activity Monitoring
  8. Flash Memory (SSD)
  9. Virtualization Availability
  10. Mobile Applications
Application to Communication Plan

¡  How does the organization use IT in day-to-day operations?

¡  How has IT affected growth, productivity, and/or reputation?

¡  How could IT produce greater benefits for its stakeholders?

¡  Does IT support a flexible and open organizational culture?

¡  Does the organization use a variety of IT? 

¡  Is IT cost-effective for the organization?