There is probably no technological innovation that has had a greater and more rapid impact on our lives than information technology. The mass adoption of personal computing and the Internet has occurred in less than a decade. What were once considered sophisticated systems are now consumer electronics. At the same time, in the workplace, information technology has transformed the way we work, in the name of efficiency and effectiveness.
In all this change, where have the debates on the social impact of information technology been conducted? There has been some discussion of the danger of creating a new social divide through information poverty. Some researchers are concerned that the general use of information technology, as well as providing some unquestioned benefits, could negatively impact our quality of life. A frequent analogy is that of the development of the motor vehicle - in the 1890s the spectre of photochemical smog, land alienation for freeways and the financial and social cost of road trauma was unimaginable and unimagined. What unexpected outcomes is our present use of information technology heading us towards?
The Systems Studies Group, in the School of Information Systems at Deakin University, seeks to apply and further develop systems thinking to tackle the ill-structured problems which real life presents, of all kinds and at all levels. In recent years, research has centred upon ideas, developed originally at Lancaster University (UK), now broadly classified as "Soft Systems Methodology" (SSM). SSM is a learning system. It supports learning about complex problematic human situations, by promoting the development of relevant system models, which, when compared to the existing problem situation, will stimulate and provide a language which supports dialogue leading to desirable, feasible action to improve the situation.
Email Mr. John Lamp