Dick Stenmark is an Associate Professor of Informatics at the IT University of Göteborg, Sweden. You might have seen him referenced in my Intranet 2.0 presentation and also in one of my lists of recommended reading.
I noticed a couple of new (dated 2008) conference papers from Stenmark:
- Email as an Integration Device: A Study of Work Place Information Seeking (PDF); and
- Web 2.0 in the business environment: The new intranet or a passing hype? (PDF).
In the email paper, this is the paragraph that initially jumped out at me:
"Previous research has shown that employees are primarily concerned with accomplishing their tasks, and therefore employ satisficing strategies when using information systems, rather than on trying to become proficient with the tools at hand (Carroll and Rosson, 1987). It has therefore been suggested that only when we stop studying individual tool in great detail and instead look at what the user is trying to achieve can we begin to understand the bigger picture (Jones et al., 2001)."
Nothing new here, but it articulates well a theme that is central to my own approach to the use of information technology in the workplace.
In the other paper, Stenmark reviews the discussion around what is Web 2.0 ("the concept is not about technology per se, but about a shifting understanding of the user’s role") and considers how organisations might respond to it. However, he observes that:
"corporate employees demand a frequently updated intranet, but the distributed nature that is inscribed in Web technology is partly put out of play by stiff editing policies. Web 2.0 technology can lower the threshold for participation but it will not affect the policies in place – these have to be replaced separately. The literature on intranet management almost unanimously and unreflectively argues in favour of aligned, rigid, and highly standardised information infrastructures tightly administered by top management. This is at odds with social media and Web 2.0 and a new generation of literature is needed to guide the manager 2.0."
There are no answers to this problem in this paper, but thinking about the points raised in the email paper, surely part of the solution is to realise that employees don't work in neat information silos and its time we gave them human centred information systems instead. And for once, thanks to Web 2.0 (what ever that might really mean) we actually have widely available technologies to do this with low barriers to entry. What do you think?