School of Communications, University of Hawaii at Manoa
COM633: Information and Communication Technologies: An exploration of social and community informatics
Fall 2017
Course Syllabus

Course Information

Meetings: Tuesdays, 3:00-5:30pm, GRG 215
Instructor: Wayne Buente
Office hours: Mondays 3-5pm and Thursdays 9-11am or by appointment
(808) 956-3360 (phone)

Course description:

The objective of this course is to help you think critically and constructively about information and communication technologies (ICTs) and its relationship to society at large.  More specifically, we will examine ICTs from the perspective of both social and community informatics.  These perspectives provide us with intellectual tools that acknowledge how technology is embedded in a complex set of other technologies, physical surroundings, people, procedures, etc. that together make up the socio-technical system. Social informatics is concerned with the use and practice of ICTs in a social context. Community informatics takes a more activist orientation toward the design and development of ICTs by privileging the knowledge and expertise of community members. At their heart, both social and community informatics rely on sociotechnical principles as an effective lens of inquiry. 

We will explore the ways in which a wide range of academics, activists, policy-makers, and community members talk about the nature and uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in a number of settings.  We will focus on developing tools to critique these perspectives and propose alternatives.  The first part of the course will examine a series of concepts and analytical devices to make sense of the empirical case studies and related research that will comprise the second part of the course. The knowledge and insights developed in this seminar will help you throughout your professional, personal, and civic lives. In addition, community informatics will provide an understanding of how ICTs can be developed for meeting local community goals and needs. 

By the end of the semester, you will be able to:

In addition, this course directly addresses the following student learning outcomes (SLOs) for the Communication MA Program:

SL01. Demonstrate subject mastery in areas of communication relevant to personal research interests.

SLOS2. Identify research questions on a contemporary issue in communication, and perform a critical, written analysis of the relevant literature.


Readings will be provided through Laulima.

Course assignments:

Readings will typically be assigned for each class period and the latest information about readings will be listed in Laulima.  Please come prepared.  Class discussions are important especially for small class sizes.  Your grade will be based upon the following:

Critical summaries of reading (5 total)






Final presentation


Final project Paper


Class Participation



The grading criteria are taken from Appendix C in
Enerson, D. M., Johnson, R. N., Milner, S., & Plank, K. M. (1997). The Penn State Teacher II. University Park, PA: Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
Retrieved August 22, 2011, from

Grading Criteria
These grading standards establish four major criteria for evaluation at each grade level: rhetorical situation, reasoning and content, organization and expression. Since papers may have some characteristics of "B" and others of "C," the final grade depends on the weight the instructor gives to each criterion. A paper grossly inadequate in one area may still receive a very low grade even if it successfully meets the other criteria. A brief summary of the grading criteria is provided below. Please consult the grading criteria in Appendix C for a more detailed explanation.

The " A" Paper: An "A" paper is clear and consistent and the content is appropriate for the assignment. It also demonstrates clear organization and expression.

The "B" Paper: The "B" paper shows an awareness of the audience and purpose. Its content is reasonably well developed with adequate evidence. The organization is clear and expression is competent.

The "C" Paper: The "C" paper has a clear purpose but lacks originality in topic selection. The content is adequately developed and supported with valid reasoning. Organization is clear with mechanical but appropriate transitions. The paper also demonstrates mastery of most conventions of edited English.

The "D" Paper: The "D" paper has a unclear purpose and an inappropriate topic for its intended audience. The content is inadequately developed and evidence is insufficient. The paper also shows flawed reasoning. Organization is deficient and the paper exhibits poor grammar.

The "F" Paper: The "F" paper has no clear purpose or remotely appropriate for its intended audience. The content is not developed nor adequately supported. The paper has no organization and serious errors with English comprehension.


I expect you to be at all class sessions.  Excessive absences that are not excused will lower your class participation points.

Course Schedule:
Please note readings and topics may change. I will let you know as soon as I make the change.

Week 1 (08/22) Introduction

Introduction to the course


Week 2 (08/29) Technological Determinism

Beniger, J. R. (1986). The control revolution: Technological and economic origins of the information society. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Joy, B. (2001). Why the future doesn't need us. In P. J. Denning (Ed.), The invisible future: The seamless integration of technology into everyday life (pp. 47-75). New York, NY: Mcgraw Hill.

Langdon, W. (1980). Do artifacts have politics? Daedalus, 109(1), 121-136.

Week 3 (09/5) Social Shaping and SCOT approaches

MacKenzie, D. (1997). The social shaping of technology. In M. R. Smith, G. Clancey, & T. Paterson (Eds.), Major problems in the history of American technology (pp. 13-15). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Pinch, T. J., & Bijker, W. E. (1989). The social construction of facts and artifacts: Or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other. In W. E. Bijker, T. P. Hughes & T. J. Pinch (Eds.), The social construction of technological systems: New directions in the sociology and history of technology (1st MIT Press paperback ed., pp. 17-50). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Cowan, R. S. (1999). The industrial revolution in the home. In D. A. MacKenzie & J. Wajcman (Eds.), The social shaping of technology (2nd ed., pp. 281-300). Milton Keynes, Eng. ; Philadelphia, Pa.: Open University Press.

Fallows, J. (1999). The American army and the M-16 rifle. In D. A. MacKenzie & J. Wajcman (Eds.), The social shaping of technology (2nd ed., pp. 382-394). Milton Keynes, Eng. ; Philadelphia, Pa.: Open University Press.


Week 4 (09/12) New Perspectives on Technological Determinism

Leonardi, P. M. (2012). Materiality, sociomateriality, and socio-technical systems: What do these terms mean? How are they different? Do we need them? In P. M. Leonardi, B. A. Nardi, & J. Kallinikos (Eds.), Materiality and organizing: Social interaction in a technological world (1st ed., pp. 25-49). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Paragas, F. d. l. C., & Lin, T. T. (2016). Organizing and reframing technological determinism. New Media & Society, 18(8), 1528-1546. doi:10.1177/1461444814562156

Lievrouw, L. A. (2014). Materiality and media in communication and technology studies: An unfinished project. In T. Gillespie, P. J. Boczkowski, & K. A. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society (pp. 21-51). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.


Week 5 (09/19) Social and Community Informatics

Selected chapters in
Kling, R., Rosenbaum, H., & Sawyer, S. (2005). Understanding and communicating social informatics: A framework for studying and teaching the human contexts of information and communication technologies. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc.

Gurstein, M. (2007). What is community informatics (and why does it matter)? Monza, Italy: Polimetrica.


Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2001). Don't count society out: A reply to Bill Joy. In P. J. Denning (Ed.), The invisible future: The seamless integration of technology into everyday life (pp. 117-144). New York, NY: Mcgraw Hill.


Week 6 (09/26) Theory and Practice of Community Informatics

Rose, E. J., Racadio, R., Martin, T., Girard, D., & Kolko, B. (2017). Expert yet vulnerable: Understanding the needs of transit dependent riders to inform policy and design. Journal of Community Informatics, 13(1), 3-24.

Wollersheim, D., Koh, L., Walker, R., & Liamputtong, P. (2017). “Happy, just talking, talking, talking”: Community strengthening through mobile phone based peer support among refugee women. Journal of Community Informatics, 13(1), 50-71.

Carroll, J. M., Shih, P. C., & Kropczynski, J. (2015). Community informatics as innovation in sociotechnical infrastructures. Journal of Community Informatics, (11). Retrieved from


Schuler, D. (2015). Engaging Academia: Strengthening the Link Between Community and Technology. Journal of Community Informatics, (11). Retrieved from

Stillman, L., & Denison, T. (2014). The Capability Approach Community Informatics. The Information Society, 30(3), 200-211. doi:10.1080/01972243.2014.896687

Week 7 (10/3) Community and Public Access Centers (CI)

Alkalimat, A., & Williams, K. (2001). Social capital and cyberpower in the African-American community: A case study of a community technology centre in the dual city. In L. Keeble & B. Loader (Eds.), Community informatics: Shaping computer-mediated social relations (pp. 177—204). London; New York: Routledge.

Kvasny, L. (2006). Cultural (Re)production of digital inequality in a US community technology initiative. Information, Communication & Society, 9(2), 160-181.

Uys, C., & Pather, S. (2016). Government Public Access Centres (PACs): A beacon of hope for marginalised communities. Journal of Community Informatics, 12. Retrieved from

Gangadharan, S. P. (2017). The downside of digital inclusion: Expectations and experiences of privacy and surveillance among marginal Internet users. New Media & Society, 19(4), 597-615. doi:10.1177/1461444815614053

Week 8 (10/10) Law, Order, and ICTs (SI)

Manning, P. K. (1996). Information Technology in the Police Context: The “Sailor” Phone. Information Systems Research, 7(1), 52-62. doi: doi:10.1287/isre.7.1.52

Gaub, J. E., Choate, D. E., Todak, N., Katz, C. M., & White, M. D. (2016). Officer Perceptions of Body-Worn Cameras Before and After Deployment. Police Quarterly, 19(3), 275-302. doi:10.1177/1098611116653398

Sanders, C. B. (2014). Need to know vs. need to share: Information technology and the intersecting work of police, fire and paramedics. Information, Communication & Society, 17(4), 463-475. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2014.891632


Week 9 (10/17) Algorithms and Big Data (SI)

Gillespie, T. (2014). The relevance of algorithms. In T. Gillespie, P. J. Boczkowski & K. A. Foot (Eds.), Media technologies: Essays on communication, materiality, and society (pp. 167-193). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Kitchin, R. (2017). Thinking critically about and researching algorithms. Information, Communication & Society, 20(1), 14-29. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154087

Crawford, K. (2016). Can an algorithm be agonistic? Ten scenes from life in calculated publics. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 41(1), 77-92. doi:doi:10.1177/0162243915589635


boyd, d., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical questions for big data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662-679. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878


Week 10 (10/24) Native American and Indigenous Cultures (CI)

Sandvig, C. (2011). Connection at Ewiiaapaayp Mountain: Indigenous Internet infrastructure. In L. Nakamura & P. Chow-White (Eds.), Race after the Internet (pp. 168-200). New York, NY: Routledge.

Dyson, L. (2011). Indigenous peoples on the Internet. In M. Consalvo & C. Ess (Eds.), The handbook of internet studies (pp. 251-269). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Other readings:

Iseke-Barnes, J., & Danard, D. (2007). Indigenous Knowledges and Worldview: Representations and the Internet. In L. E. Dyson, M. Hendriks, & S. Grant (Eds.), Information technology and Indigenous people (pp. 27-37). Hershey PA: Information Science Publishing.

Robertson, D. L. (2015). Invisibility in the Color-Blind Era: Examining Legitimized Racism against Indigenous Peoples. The American Indian Quarterly, 39(2), 113-153.


Week 11 (10/31) Race, Intersectionality and ICTs (CI)

Selected chapters from:

Noble, S. U., & Tynes, B. M. (Eds.). (2016). The intersectional Internet: Race, sex, class and culture online. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.


Week 12 (11/07) Wikipedia as Sociotechnical System (SI)

Geiger, R. S. (2014). Bots, bespoke, code and the materiality of software platforms. Information, Communication & Society, 17(3), 342-356. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2013.873069.

Niederer, S., & van Dijck, J. (2010). Wisdom of the crowd or technicity of content? Wikipedia as a sociotechnical system. New Media & Society, 12(8), 1368-1387. doi: 10.1177/1461444810365297.

Chapter 7 in
Dijck, J. v. (2013). The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Week 13 (11/14) Sociotechnical research among different groups (SI)

Anderson, D. N. (2016). Wheels in the Head: Ridesharing as Monitored Performance. Surveillance & Society, 14(2), 240-258.

McDonald, T. (2014). Affecting relations: Domesticating the internet in a south-western Chinese town. Information, Communication & Society, 18(1), 17-31. doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2014.924981.

Ticona, J. (2015). Strategies of control: Workers’ use of ICTs to shape knowledge and service work. Information, Communication & Society, 18(5), 509-523. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1012531


Week 14 (11/21) No class - Work on Final Paper



Week 15 (11/28) TBD



Week 16 (12/05) Final Paper Presentations