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Critical Systems Thinking and Information Technology: Some Summary Reflections, Doubts, and Hopes through Critical Thinking Critically Considered, and Through Hypersystems1

Copyright © 2011. 23 pages.
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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-057-0.ch040
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MLA

Ivanov, Kristo. "Critical Systems Thinking and Information Technology: Some Summary Reflections, Doubts, and Hopes through Critical Thinking Critically Considered, and Through Hypersystems1." Information and Communication Technologies, Society and Human Beings: Theory and Framework (Festschrift in honor of Gunilla Bradley). IGI Global, 2011. 493-515. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-057-0.ch040

APA

Ivanov, K. (2011). Critical Systems Thinking and Information Technology: Some Summary Reflections, Doubts, and Hopes through Critical Thinking Critically Considered, and Through Hypersystems1. In D. Haftor, & A. Mirijamdotter (Eds.) Information and Communication Technologies, Society and Human Beings: Theory and Framework (Festschrift in honor of Gunilla Bradley) (pp. 493-515). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-057-0.ch040

Chicago

Ivanov, Kristo. "Critical Systems Thinking and Information Technology: Some Summary Reflections, Doubts, and Hopes through Critical Thinking Critically Considered, and Through Hypersystems1." In Information and Communication Technologies, Society and Human Beings: Theory and Framework (Festschrift in honor of Gunilla Bradley), ed. Darek Haftor and Anita Mirijamdotter, 493-515 (2011), accessed April 24, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-057-0.ch040

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Abstract

This chapter presents a summary of some features of soft systems methodology—SSM, and of critical systems thinking—CST as they have been experienced from the point of view of the field of applications of information technology. It highlights the manner in which CST completes SSM in the context of the design of computer support in the form of HYPERSYSTEMS, and evidences some problematic aspects of the two approaches which push the practitioner into philosophical issues. One concluding hypothesis is that further developments of systems practice must be sought at the interface between formal science, political ethics, analytic psychology, and religious thought. For tutorial purposes, a great amount of literature is related to these issues.
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Soft Systems Methodology

SSM has been comprehensively presented in an extensive work (Checkland, 1981) but the following will be edited out of a more recent, and therefore presumably more developed, presentation of SSM that is related to informations systems (Checkland, 1988). It will sometimes be completed and followed by my comments.

Information systems can be seen as an organized attempt at meaning—creation—from—data by a social institution. The creation of meaning is seen as requiring a “semantic information theory” that may be grounded on the welcomed theory of “speech acts” in modern philosophy. An SSM idea that is considered crucial is that a set of activities be linked as to form a purposeful whole that could itself be regarded as a kind of system, a “human activity system”. Such systems can be adequately clearly described only in relation to a particular world view, or Weltanschauung. Methods—models—systems that are relevant to debate real-world activity are developed (in a logic—driven stream of analysis), and compared with real-world action in a problem situation, in order to structure a debate about change. The problem situation itself is simultaneously explored (in a social stream of analysis) as a culture, with social and political characteristics. It feeds both the former choice (design) of relevant systems and the debate about change among participants/designers/users/end users/(ever-changing)-organizational members. This view of social reality is that of an ever changing outcome of a social process in which human beings continually negotiate and renegotiate, and so construct with others their perceptions and interpretations of the world and the rules for coping with it, rules that are never fixed once for all.

Future computer projects need to be complemented with such a technical—social—political process for continuous thinking and rethinking of organizations tasks and processes [activitities], together with the rethinking of the enabling information flows. When iterations of the process produce models which are widely agreed to be relevant in a company [problem] situation, then such consensus activity models can be converted into information flow models, and the more traditional methods of information system design can be initiated. Lately there have been attempts, ideas and projects to design multimedia computer support of similar processes and their iterations (Forsgren, 1989; Lundquist and Huston, 1990). The activity models can be transformed into traditional information flow models (Checkland, 1970), as known in the field of information systems analysis (Langefors and Sundgren, 1975), by asking of each activity: (a) what information is required in principle to do this activity, in what form, with what frequency, from what source?, and (b) what information is generated by doing the activity? Even if prototyping as related to continuously learning systems apparently makes the idea of stable information flows obsolete, it is still true that some provisionally stable structure of the information system must be available in order to be periodically revised. Co-constructiveness requires constructiveness. Learning systems are in the best case expected to increase the frequency of revisions or updatings, or then, to create structured databases of continuous opinion polls.

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Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Preface
Darek Haftor, Anita Mirijamdotter
Chapter 1
Geraldine Pratchett-Hultkrantz
Gunilla Bradley first breezed into my life over 30 years ago. She came as strong spring breeze with her great personality wafting around her. Her... Sample PDF
Gunilla Bradley: A Personal Glimpse
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Chapter 2
Annagreta Dyring
The Aurora butterfly has elegant antennae. This butterfly was discovered by the botanist Carl Linnaeus from the Swedish Province of Småland. The... Sample PDF
A Butterfly of Masterly Adroitness
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Chapter 3
Gunilla Bradley
The convergence model illustrates ongoing changes in the Net Society. The theoretical model synthesises the theoretical framework in the author’s... Sample PDF
The Convergence Theory on ICT, Society, and Human Beings: Towards the Good ICT Society
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Chapter 4
William McIver
This chapter attempts to draw parallels between Professor Gunilla Bradley’s Convergence Model and the body of work by a now seemingly obscure... Sample PDF
An ’Ekistics’ for Information and Communication Technologies
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Chapter 5
Larry Stillman, Tom Denison
This chapter considers Gunilla Bradley’s model of technology-in-society as an empirically-focused exercise that reveals psycho-social factors which... Sample PDF
Gunilla Bradley’s ‘Good Society’ and Structuration Theory: An Exploratory Excursus
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Chapter 6
Kristina Orth-Gomér
Gunilla Bradleys contributions to life sciences are reviewed and explained from a medical and public health perspective. She has developed a... Sample PDF
Understanding the Consequences of Technology for Human Interaction and Health: Gunilla Bradley’s Pioneer Scientific Contribution
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Chapter 7
Alice Robbin
Gunilla Bradley has been an intellectual force for more than forty years. The evolution of her thinking led to a theoretical model that posits the... Sample PDF
Multitasking: Some Consequences of the Convergence of Technologies in the Workplace
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Chapter 8
Katherine J.S. Rogers, Michael J. Smith, Pascale C. Sainfort
This study helps establish how electronic performance monitoring may influence employee physical strain levels through job design. It identifies job... Sample PDF
Electronic Performance Monitoring, Job Design and Psychological Stress
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Chapter 9
Michael J. Smith
Current theories of work related cumulative musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities indicate that causation is multifactorial (Armstrong... Sample PDF
Psychosocial Considerations in Upper Extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders
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Chapter 10
Michelle M. Robertson
With the rapid rate of new technologies, coupled with telecommunications equipment being introduced into the workplace, further exploration is... Sample PDF
Computers, Psychosocial, Work Environment, and Stress: A Comparative Theoretical Analysis of Organizations and Action Strategies
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Chapter 11
Holger Luczak, Christopher M. Schlick, Nicole Jochems, Sebastian Vetter, Bernhard Kausch
The fast aging of many western and eastern societies and their increasing reliance on information technology create a compelling need to reconsider... Sample PDF
Touch Screens for the Elderly: Some Models and Methods, Prototypical Development and Experimental Evaluation of Human-Computer Interaction Concepts for the Elderly
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Chapter 12
Vladimir Munipov
This chapter discusses the ergonomic, psychological and social problems of operators of large complex systems. It is noted that the category of... Sample PDF
Psychological and Social Problems of Automation and Computerization
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Chapter 13
Hal W. Hendrick
Historical findings concerning the nature of the higher-order structural personality dimension of cognitive complexity and related conceptual... Sample PDF
Cognitive and Organizational Complexity and Behavior: Implications for Organizational Design and Leadership
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Chapter 14
Sebastiano Bagnara, Simone Pozzi
Nowadays, our life is characterized by an increasing complexity and variety in the use of technology: highly idiosyncratic experiences in technology... Sample PDF
Individuation and Diversity: The Need for Idiographic HCI
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Chapter 15
Simone Fischer-Hübner, John Sören Pettersson
A critical success factor for Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs), and for Privacy-Enhancing Identity Management in particular, will be... Sample PDF
Usable Privacy-Enhancing Identity Management: Challenges and Approaches
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Chapter 16
Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Anna Ståhlbröst
In this chapter we focus on a new research area, Living Lab that introduces new ways of managing innovation processes. A Living Lab can be viewed as... Sample PDF
Living Lab: An Open and User-Centric Design Approach1
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Chapter 17
Eila Järvenpää, Stina Immonen
In this chapter, we consider ICT (information and communication technologies) as a tool that has significantly changed our work. We deal with the... Sample PDF
ICT Tools and Transform in Work: From Computer Supported Work to Knowledge Work
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Chapter 18
Peter Hoonakker, Kerry McGuire, Pascale Carayon
Intensive care units (ICUs) are highly complex organizations where lives are hanging by a thread. Approximately 400,000 to 500,000 people die each... Sample PDF
Sociotechnical Issues of Tele-ICU Technology
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Chapter 19
Jacques Steyn
A brief overview of how computers, more specifically ICT, have changed over the past half a century is presented. Decades ago, when Gunilla Bradley... Sample PDF
The Interplay between Humans and Technology: A Techno-Utilitarian Approach
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Chapter 20
Ulrika Danielsson, Karin Danielsson Öberg
The presence of ICT (Information Communication Technology) in our psychosocial work environment and in our personal lives, has increased rapidly... Sample PDF
Psychosocial Life Environment and Life Roles in Interaction with Daily Use of Information Communication Technology Boundaries between Work and Leisure
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Chapter 21
Hans-Erik Nissen
The chapter addresses services rendered by message transforming functions of computer programs. It starts by critically looking at some earlier ways... Sample PDF
Services Rendered By Computers and Their Explications
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Chapter 22
Pedro Isaías
This chapter presents a combined model for on-line and real conferences. The chapter introduces Web 2.0 and its importance. Then, using Web 2.0 in... Sample PDF
Towards A Combined Model for On-Line and Real Conferences: A Proposal
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Chapter 23
Virve Siirak
In this chapter it is argued that blended learning with web-based support by the Moodle e-learning environment based on social constructivist... Sample PDF
Some Experiences of E-Learning in the Moodle E-Learning Environment
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Chapter 24
Elspeth McKay
In defining ‘effective HCI’ one may turn to the literature. While there can be no doubt that the ‘techno-vista’ has changed dramatically in the past... Sample PDF
The Convergence Model Implements Accessible Information Creating Effective ICT Tools for Our Forgotten Ones
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Chapter 25
Simon Rogerson
The converging technologies have changed the way we should look at information. Illustrations are used to discuss how we create, communicate and... Sample PDF
Information Integrity in the Information Age
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Chapter 26
Peter Crowley
This chapter maps out various ‘bifurcation challenges’ to societal development, such as, (a) climate change (b) demographic change (c) the... Sample PDF
Community Informatics, Civil Society & Capability Approaches Converging to Cope With ‘Bifurcation Challenges’ in Current Societal Development
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Chapter 27
Barrett S. Caldwell
The rise of multiple online social network sites represents a new set of opportunities for persons to develop and sustain a variety of personal and... Sample PDF
Connection, Coupling, and Persistence in Online Social Networks
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Chapter 28
Sarai Lastra
During the process of designing a community information system for my dissertation study using ethnographic and grounded theory methods in a Latino... Sample PDF
The Community Event Research Method
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Chapter 29
Sangeeta Sharma
The new inclusive social dynamics is refocusing the intricacies of formation of social structures. The process of globalization is unifying various... Sample PDF
The Ethics Driven Spatial Management in Multiculturalism through ICTs
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Chapter 30
Margaret Tan
In recent years, the advancing and sophisticated interconnectivity of the fast-evolving interactive digital technologies have dramatically created a... Sample PDF
From Social Capital to Social Production Implications for Individuals, Organisations and Nations
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Chapter 31
Natalie Pang
The chapter starts by elucidating the concept of the contemporary media environment as a complex interaction of two computing variables: the growth... Sample PDF
Seeking Utopia: Communities and the Commons in the Contemporary Media Environment
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Chapter 32
Eduardo Villanueva Mansilla
ICT4D policies tend to present two problems: they are designed without consideration of the larger role ICT play in society, especially regarding... Sample PDF
Convergent Media Policy Issues for the Developing World: The Need for Digital Independence
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Chapter 33
Lorenz M. Hilty
As has been discussed for decades, a reduction of the input of natural resources into industrial production and consumption by a factor of 4-10 is a... Sample PDF
Information and Communication Technologies for a more Sustainable World
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Chapter 34
Christina Mörtberg, Dagny Stuedahl, Sara Alander
In this paper we discuss sustainability, particularly social and cultural sustainability, in relation to an e-commerce application used in the... Sample PDF
Why Do The Orders Go Wrong All The Time?: Exploring Sustainability in an E-Commerce Application in Swedish Public School Kitchens
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Chapter 35
Wolfgang Hofkirchner
The appearance of notions of a “good society” does not come as a surprise, given the recent crises in the fields of economy, the financial markets... Sample PDF
Information and Communication Technologies for the Good Society
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Chapter 36
Jacob Palme
Humans are able to understand that rules must not be adhered to 100% all the time. There are special cases, where the rules should not be adhered... Sample PDF
Can Computers Decide what is Legal and Illegal?
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Chapter 37
Diane Whitehouse, Penny Duquenoy
The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is increasing rapidly in many spheres of contemporary life in Europe. The ethical use of... Sample PDF
eHealth and Ethics: Theory, Teaching, and Practice
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Chapter 38
Jacques Berleur
In this paper we debate some fundamental normative issues of the Internet governance. This is addressed in terms of technical regulations... Sample PDF
Ethical and Social Issues of the Internet Governance Regulations
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Chapter 39
Darek M. Haftor
This text reports findings from an inquiry into the normativity inherent within the developmental work of Information and communication Technologies... Sample PDF
Moral Considerations for the Development of Information and Communication Technology
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Chapter 40
Kristo Ivanov
This chapter presents a summary of some features of soft systems methodology—SSM, and of critical systems thinking—CST as they have been experienced... Sample PDF
Critical Systems Thinking and Information Technology: Some Summary Reflections, Doubts, and Hopes through Critical Thinking Critically Considered, and Through Hypersystems1
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Chapter 41
Susan M. Dray
The current schism between academia and practice exists for many understandable reasons, mostly to do with the very different incentives and life... Sample PDF
Engaged Scholars, Thoughtful Practitioners: The Interdependence of Academics and Practitioners in User-Centered Design and Usability
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Chapter 42
Myra H. Strober
The extraordinary complexity of knowledge in today’s world creates a paradox. On the one hand, its sheer volume and intricacy demand disciplinary... Sample PDF
Habits of the Mind: Challenges for Multidisciplinary Engagement
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Chapter 43
Darek M. Haftor, Anita Mirijamdotter, Miranda Kajtazi
This final Chapter represents the responsibility, the privilege but also the aspiration of the two editors of this Gunilla Bradley Festschrift. The... Sample PDF
In Search for Unity within the Diversity of Information Societies
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