Special Issue "Community Informatics Design for Digital Social Systems: The Ultimate Tool for a Human Digital Age"

A special issue of Information (ISSN 2078-2489). This special issue belongs to the section "Information Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Pierre-Léonard Harvey

Departement of Social and Public Communication, Faculty of Communication, University of Quebec in Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: communication theories and methodologies; large scale socio-technical system design; digital social system; social informatics; ethics of design; E-learning platform; design platform and business models; virtual communities; community informatics design; innovation ecosystem; citizen science; living labs and open innovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There are growing programs of research showing that contemporary Information and Communication fields are increasingly concerned with the multiple contextual and social aspects in which ICT are modelled, used or designed. We are referring to programs of research such as Information Science, CMO, Computing Science, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Cyber-physical Systems, Computational Social Sciences, CSCW, HCI, Internet Research, Community Informatics, Social Computing, Design Science, Design Thinking, Science Technology and Society. There is a paradigm shift, we call “Digital Social System” (DSS) that range from management and computing fields to complexity science and social sciences towards an anchoring of ICT design in all kind of human activity systems. It has been slowly gathering momentum over the past 30 years and is now beginning to move from the periphery of the design and computing fields to a mainstream current of programming and designing in different domains of science. This new transdisciplinary paradigm represents a growing trend in soft sciences and hard sciences. This trend is enabling the convergence of Internet of Things, Cyber-Physical Systems, Social Sciences and Design Thinking which is leading to the co-creation of innumerable Digital Social Systems: Intelligent Social Systems, Cyber-Physical Social Systems, Hybrid Online Social Systems, Smart Communities, Smart Cities, Virtual Communities of Practice, Virtual Collaborative Networks, Collaborative and Design Platforms, Innovation Ecosystem. DSS are arranged through various objects including both social agents and physical things, that interact and collaborate with each other. DSS are hybrid online social system supporting human activity systems which involve individuals, communities, vast collectives of people or artificial agents that co-design multiple contextual aspects of lifeworld and which can act within a dynamic shared social cyberspace supported by social media and creativity tools. This cyberspace exists in the real world of organizations and institutions and contributes to governance, decision-making, sustainable development within our institutions and enterprises. While there is a growing recognition among information and communication researchers that computer systems are designed for social practices, the Internet still tends to be viewed as an artifact with the focus being on its technological and material aspects, neglecting their social structure and their conscientious design in the service of society.

Community Informatics Design is a form of co-design for the conscious evolution of DSS in society with the support of ICT devices considered as social technologies. It is oriented towards improvement of our quality of life and the betterment of human kind. In this Special Issue, we will combine hard sciences and soft sciences to further develop:

  • philosophical foundations—to give orientation and ethical values to our future systems;
  • methodologies—for the co-building and designing of implementable models and instantiation of digital social systems;
  • transdisciplinary methodologies—to work toward a common language and common social understanding of the problematics and creatively develop solutions and scenarii;
  • applications—the way researchers from arts, social sciences, technology and engineering work together in a transdisciplinary culture.

This Special Issue of Information will also explore the notion whether the social web is not only, as an artifact, an element of the ecosystems relationship comprising the social structure in which we evolve, but also is a digital social system informing an organization, a social structure or a whole cultural context. This is because the Social Web has all the qualities (aspects) and all the morphogenetics attributes of a social structure. This is an ambitious hypothesis, considering that most of social scientists could concede that the social web should be considered as a socio-technical system with certain social and technical attributes, but not recognizing the fact that the social web is a real social system in itself. Not only should we say that the social web is a true social structure, built on communication events, networks, patterns and artifacts. It is, as well, a true social system designed and built with the aid of artifacts, being both the multi-aspectual context and an ontological entity in large scale projects where human interaction and ICT are co-evolving among new social structures of communication. This transdisciplinary paradigm offers us the positions and practices which are analogous to our roles in real world functioning, which are deepened, extended, articulated and changed by use and co-design of ICT through multiple spaces in life-world: physical spaces, cognitive spaces, social spaces, cyberspaces, thinking spaces, meaning spaces.

The issues here are substantive and will have profound implications for the understanding of different scientific domains. Community Informatics Design Applied to Digital Social System involves a profound transdisciplinary re-thinking of the computing and social fields confronted with the communicational challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in all walk of life.

Dr. Pierre-Léonard Harvey
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Information is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 850 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Going beyond the “T” in “CTC”: Social Practices as Care in Community Technology Centers
Information 2018, 9(6), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9060135
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 15 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 3 June 2018
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Community technology center (CTC) is a term usually associated with facilities that provide free or affordable computer and internet access, and sometimes training, to people in underserved communities. Despite the large number of studies done on CTCs, the literature has focused primarily on
[...] Read more.
Community technology center (CTC) is a term usually associated with facilities that provide free or affordable computer and internet access, and sometimes training, to people in underserved communities. Despite the large number of studies done on CTCs, the literature has focused primarily on the use of ICTs as the main, if not the only, activity in these centers. When it comes to addressing social concerns, the literature has often seen them as an outcome of ICT use. It does not highlight CTCs as an inherent and important social space that helps to tackle social issues. Thus, in this study, I present an ethnographic account of how residents of favelas (urban slums in Brazil)—who are from understudied and marginalized areas—used these centers beyond the “T” (technology) in order to fulfill some of their social needs. I highlight the social practices afforded by the CTCs that were beneficial to the underserved communities. By social practices, I focus exclusively on the acts of care performed by individuals in order to address self and community needs. I argue that CTCs go beyond the use of technology and provide marginalized people with a key social space, where they alleviate some of their social concerns, such as lack of proper education, violence, drug cartel activities, and other implications of being poor. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Human Takeover: A Call for a Venture into an Existential Opportunity
Information 2018, 9(5), 113; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9050113
Received: 4 April 2018 / Revised: 30 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 5 May 2018
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We propose a venture into an existential opportunity for establishing a world ‘good enough’ for humans to live in. Defining an existential opportunity as the converse of an existential risk—that is, a development that promises to dramatically improve the future of humanity—we argue
[...] Read more.
We propose a venture into an existential opportunity for establishing a world ‘good enough’ for humans to live in. Defining an existential opportunity as the converse of an existential risk—that is, a development that promises to dramatically improve the future of humanity—we argue that one such opportunity is available and should be explored now. The opportunity resides in the moment of transition of the Internet—from mediating information to mediating distributed direct governance in the sense of self-organization. The Internet of tomorrow will mediate the execution of contracts, transactions, public interventions and all other change-establishing events more reliably and more synergistically than any other technology or institution. It will become a distributed, synthetically intelligent agent in itself. This transition must not be just observed, or exploited instrumentally: it must be ventured into and seized on behalf of entire humanity. We envision a configuration of three kinds of cognitive system—the human mind, social systems and the emerging synthetic intelligence—serving to augment the autonomy of the first from the ‘programming’ imposed by the second. Our proposition is grounded in a detailed analysis of the manner in which the socio-econo-political system has evolved into a powerful control mechanism that subsumes human minds, steers their will and automates their thinking. We see the venture into the existential opportunity described here as aiming at the global dissolution of the core reason of that programming’s effectiveness—the critical dependence of the continuity of human lives on the coherence of the socially constructed personas they ‘wear.’ Thus, we oppose the popular prediction of the upcoming, ‘dreadful AI takeover’ with a call for action: instead of worrying that Artificial Intelligence will soon come to dominate and govern the human world, let us think of how it could help the human being to finally be able to do it. Full article

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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Gamification Enhancing Computational Creativity to Drive Participatory Design of Business Innovation
Authors: Antonio De Nicola, Giordano Vicoli, Maria Luisa Villani
Affiliation: ENEA, Italy
Abstract: We present a framework to participatory design of business innovation consisting of a methodology and a suite of software applications leveraging  computational creativity techniques based on semantics and enhanced by gamification. The framework relies on a business innovation ontology representing the domain knowledge that is used to automatically generate preliminary representations of business ideas. Indeed, the most promising for novelty and potential impact are automatically selected to ignite a business innovation game where team members collaborate towards identification of new innovation ideas based on those inputs. The case study concerns innovative services for smart cities.
Title: Words of Challenge, Encouragement and Motivation: Virtual Communities and Health Goal Achievement
Authors: Alicia de la Pena and Claudia Quintanilla
Affiliation: Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila (Saltillo, México); EGADE Business School (Monterrey, México)
Abstract: Virtual communities play a significant role in people’s daily activities. Individuals can either join a community to get new recipes, demonstrate their support for their favorite charity, and even ask for advice to achieve their health related goals. Traditional support groups, like the worldwide known Weight Watchers, are now taking advantage of the Internet to provide users with a virtual space to share their struggles to achieve wellbeing. Virtual communities have different tools that allow individuals to ask for advice; share their before and after photos; provide comments to other members of the community; and, with a simple emoticon demonstrate their support. In order to understand how virtual communities help individuals to achieve and maintain their health related goals, we designed an experiment to measure the effect of different comments on individuals’ intention to maintain their physical activity goals. We employed LIWC to analyze the comments provided by our participants and discovered that even when some virtual friends publish negative and/or sarcastic comments, those words serve as triggers for individuals who are motivated to improve their health, and are willing to demonstrate their commitment to achieve their goals. Our study provides evidence that virtual communities become an attractive environment for advice seekers and advice providers, who take advantage of the multimedia tools available in different social network sites.
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