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: closed (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 1000 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 (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Gamified Software to Support the Design of Business Innovation
Information 2018, 9(12), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9120324
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 10 November 2018 / Accepted: 12 December 2018 / Published: 14 December 2018
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Abstract
Business innovation is a process that requires creativity, and benefits from extensive collaboration. Currently, computational support in creativity processes is low, but modern techniques would allow these processes to be sped up. In this context, we provide such a computational support with software [...] Read more.
Business innovation is a process that requires creativity, and benefits from extensive collaboration. Currently, computational support in creativity processes is low, but modern techniques would allow these processes to be sped up. In this context, we provide such a computational support with software for business innovation design that uses computational creativity techniques. Furthermore, the software enables a gamified process to increase user engagement and collaboration, which mimics evolutionary methods, relying on a voting mechanism. The software includes a business innovation ontology representing the domain knowledge that is used to generate and select a set of diverse preliminary representations of business ideas. Indeed, the most promising for novelty and potential impact are identified to ignite a business innovation game where team members collaborate to elaborate new innovation ideas based on those inputs until convergence to a shortlist of business model proposals. The main features of the approach are illustrated by means of a running example concerning innovative services for smart cities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Social Customer Relationship Management and Organizational Characteristics
Information 2018, 9(12), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9120306
Received: 2 November 2018 / Revised: 23 November 2018 / Accepted: 29 November 2018 / Published: 2 December 2018
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Abstract
Social customer relationship management (SCRM) is a new philosophy influencing the relationship between customer and organization where the customer gets the opportunity to control the relationship through social media. This paper aims to identify (a) the current level of SCRM and (b) the [...] Read more.
Social customer relationship management (SCRM) is a new philosophy influencing the relationship between customer and organization where the customer gets the opportunity to control the relationship through social media. This paper aims to identify (a) the current level of SCRM and (b) the influence of basic organizational characteristics on the SCRM level. The data were gathered through a questionnaire distributed to 362 organizations headquartered in the Czech Republic. The questionnaire comprised 54 questions focusing on the significance of marketing and CRM practices, establishing a relationship with the customer, online communities, the use of social media in marketing, and acquiring and managing information. Scalable questions with a typical five-level Likert scale were applied in the questionnaire. The results show that larger firms more often set up their own online communities and manage them strategically; moreover, they are able to manage information better. Contrariwise, small-sized organizations use social networks as a way to establish communication with the customer more than large-sized entities. The use of social media for marketing purposes is significantly higher in organizations oriented to consumer markets than in those oriented to business markets. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Where and How to Look for Help Matters: Analysis of Support Exchange in Online Health Communities for People Living with HIV
Information 2018, 9(10), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9100259
Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 16 October 2018 / Accepted: 18 October 2018 / Published: 20 October 2018
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Abstract
Research is scarce on how direct and indirect support seeking strategies affect support exchange in online health communities. Moreover, prior research has relied mostly on content analysis of forum posts at the post level. In order to generate a more fine-grained analysis of [...] Read more.
Research is scarce on how direct and indirect support seeking strategies affect support exchange in online health communities. Moreover, prior research has relied mostly on content analysis of forum posts at the post level. In order to generate a more fine-grained analysis of support exchange, we conducted content analysis at the utterance level, taking directness of support seeking, quality of provision, forum type, and seeker gender into account. Our analysis of four popular online support forums for people living with human immunodeficiency virus found that type of support sought and provided, support seeking strategy, and quality of emotional support provision differed in care provider/formal forums versus social/informal forums. Interestingly, indirect support seeking tended to elicit more supportive emotional responses than direct support seeking strategies in all forums; we account for this in terms of type of support sought. Practical implications for online support communities are discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Community Network Ontology for Participatory Collaboration Mapping: Towards Collective Impact
Information 2018, 9(7), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9070151
Received: 19 March 2018 / Revised: 11 June 2018 / Accepted: 16 June 2018 / Published: 22 June 2018
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Abstract
Addressing societal wicked problems requires collaboration across many different community networks. In order for community networks to scale up their collaboration and increase their collective impact, they require a process of inter-communal sensemaking. One way to catalyze that process is by participatory collaboration [...] Read more.
Addressing societal wicked problems requires collaboration across many different community networks. In order for community networks to scale up their collaboration and increase their collective impact, they require a process of inter-communal sensemaking. One way to catalyze that process is by participatory collaboration mapping. In earlier work, we presented the CommunitySensor methodology for participatory mapping and sensemaking within communities. In this article, we extend this approach by introducing a community network ontology that can be used to define a customized mapping language to make sense across communities. We explore what ontologies are and how our community network ontology is developed using a participatory ontology evolution approach. We present the community network conceptual model at the heart of the ontology. We show how it classifies element and connection types derived from an analysis of 17 participatory mapping cases, and how this classification can be used in characterizing and tailoring the mapping language required by a specific community network. To illustrate the application of the community network ontology in practice, we apply it to a case of participatory collaboration mapping for global and national agricultural field building. We end the article with a discussion and conclusions. Full article
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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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Abstract
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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Abstract
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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