Global is Great…but We Live Here: Understanding the Nature and Implications of Local Information Landscapes
Professor and Senior Associate Dean
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
Friday, October 27, 2017
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Speakman Hall Suite 200
While much has been written over the past several decades about the ability of information and communication technologies to “eliminate distance”, the reality is that most people continue to live and work in geographically bounded communities that they think of as their local environment. Yet, despite the importance of place and space in our lives and organizations, the information systems literature has little or nothing to say about the systems that underlie local communities. There is a slowly growing body of work which considers government and public sector IT infrastructures, but these studies tend to focus on systems that exist within organizations. Work about community information infrastructures moves beyond the organizational “box”, but it has a strong focus on the technological infrastructures that communities create (or fail to create). While useful, these studies typically stop short of examining the information that is actually available through these systems – and as such they provide limited perspectives on the ultimate usefulness and impact of community systems. Drawing from initial studies of community information landscapes, I will present some early empirical results that suggest that despite popular beliefs that we live in a “networked world”, in many cases finding information about local events, activities, opportunities, and organizations continues to be a challenge. From this work, the concept of geographically defined gaps in available information (i.e. information deserts) is developed as an alternative conception of digital inequality.
Brian Butler is Professor and Senior Associate Dean at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Over the past several years, he has provided operational leadership at the UMD iSchool, overseeing a $1 million facilities expansion and leading launch of an undergraduate Information Science program that after 2 years now has more than 400 students. He joined the iSchool in 2012, where he has also been Director of the Master of Information Management (MIM) program, Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI), and Interim Dean. His research has focused on developing theories and techniques that enable groups, communities, and organizations to harness the full potential of new technologies. His recent work examined the role of local information institutions and infrastructures in community resilience. Butler’s research and community-building work have been funded by federal agencies, foundations and corporations that include National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Microsoft Research, Yahoo! and Intel. His work has been published in Organization Science, Information Systems Research, ACM Transactions on Computer Human Interaction, The Journal of Medical Internet Research, and The Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology. From 1998-2011, Butler held academic appointments in the Katz Graduate School of Business and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science, a MS in Information Systems, and a PhD in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University.