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Infrastructuring for organizational resilience: Experiences and perspectives for business continuity



This workshop d isc usses organi zational resilienc e and resilient infrastruc tures by uniting researc hers, pr ofessionals, and exp erts from various d isc ip lines. Workpl ac e stud ies and org anizational setting s have always be en an integral theme in c omp uter-2 supported cooperative work (CSCW) research. This workshop hopes to broaden this research horizon by overlapping the multidisciplinary perspectives of resilience and crisis research with human-computer interaction (HCI), CSCW, organizational, and business studies. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent physical and social constraints have been detrimental to the activities of different organizations, especially to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs must recognize and search for opportunities to adapt to this crisis by developing resilient organizational infrastructures. These adaptations can be crucial to overcoming the current disruptions challenging the continued existence keeping in view the intrinsic diversification of various business and industrial sectors. How organizational infrastructures can be designed to instill resilient properties like adaptive capacity, self-adjustment and continuity? We intend to focus on bringing this discussion under the umbrella of CSCW to explore the potentials of collaboration and cooperative work in organizational infrastructure. Through this workshop, we offer research prospects by applying organizational resilience theories to study organizational infrastructure and infrastructuring activities, which can be used for their prospective transformations into resilient infrastructures.
Syed, H. A., Schorch, M., Ankenbauer, S. A., Hassan, S., Meisner, K., Stein, M., Skudelny,
S., Karasti, H., Pipek, V. (2021): Infrastructuring for organizational resilience: Experiences
and perspectives for business continuity. In: Proceedings of the 19th European Conference
on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: The International Venue on Practice-centred
Computing on the Design of Cooperation Technologies - Workshops, Reports of the
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (ISSN 2510-2591), DOI:
Infrastructuring for organizational
resilience: Experiences and perspectives
for business continuity
Hussain Abid Syed1
Marén Schorch2
Sam Addison Ankenbauer3
Sohaib Hassan4
Konrad Meisner5
Martin Stein6
Sascha Skudelny7
Helena Karasti8
Volkmar Pipek9
University of Siegen, Germany1,2,4,5,7,9; IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark8;
SME Graduate School, Siegen, Germany4,5; University of Michigan School of
Information, USA3; Fraunhofer FIT, Sankt Augustin, Germany6
{hussain.syed, maren.schorch, sohaib.hassan, konrad.meisner, sascha.skudelny,},,,
Abstract. This workshop discusses organizational resilience and resilient infrastructures
by uniting researchers, professionals, and experts from various disciplines. Workplace
studies and organizational settings have always been an integral theme in computer-
supported cooperative work (CSCW) research. This workshop hopes to broaden this
research horizon by overlapping the multidisciplinary perspectives of resilience and crisis
research with human-computer interaction (HCI), CSCW, organizational, and business
studies. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent physical and social constraints have
been detrimental to the activities of different organizations, especially to small and medium
enterprises (SMEs). SMEs must recognize and search for opportunities to adapt to this
crisis by developing resilient organizational infrastructures. These adaptations can be
crucial to overcoming the current disruptions challenging the continued existence keeping
in view the intrinsic diversification of various business and industrial sectors. How
organizational infrastructures can be designed to instill resilient properties like adaptive
capacity, self-adjustment and continuity? We intend to focus on bringing this discussion
under the umbrella of CSCW to explore the potentials of collaboration and cooperative
work in organizational infrastructure. Through this workshop, we offer research prospects
by applying organizational resilience theories to study organizational infrastructure and
infrastructuring activities, which can be used for their prospective transformations into
resilient infrastructures.
With rapidly increasing disasters such as climate change and escalating cyber-
crimes due to the digitally exposed nature of modern business, crisis is inevitable.
The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has further escalated business concerns by
altering daily routines and work practices around the world, ultimately disrupting
how organizations conduct business. Especially notable is the small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) sector that is extremely vulnerable in times of crisis and is often
the least prepared of all the organizational sectors (Jones & Proverbs, 2008).
SMEs are integral to the modern economy and make up a significant portion of
the world’s businesses. In the European Union (EU), for example, 99% of all the
enterprises are SMEs (European Commission, 2017). Due to their significant role
in economic activity, SMEs are considered a key driver for the growth and
economic development of countries, especially by stimulating innovation, job
creation, and social integration of local communities (European Commission,
2017). An SME in the EU is defined as an organization with less than 250
employees and less than (or equal to) a €50 million turnover, whereas in the United
States, SMEs are classified as firms having fewer than 500 employees (OECD,
2005). Despite having different definitions across economies, SMEs are noted for
their liabilities of “smallness” and they often operate in uncertain environments
(Damanpour, 1992). Further, in contrast to large organizations, SMEs are peculiar
due to more superficial organizational structures, limited financial assets and funds,
centralized decision-making, and the high reliability of employees' ability to get
their job done (Thong & Yap 1995).
Crisis literature entails that SMEs do not have the resources and technical
systems often equated with resilience capabilities amidst the ever-increasing threat
of natural and human-made disasters. Despite being agile and flexible, SMEs may
need to become more strategic driven in their approach to managing threats and
extreme events (Sullivan-Taylor & Branicki, 2011). This ideology of
organizational transformation is coordinated with the expectation in CSCW as
calibrated in the reflections on 25 years of ethnography in CSCW research by
Blomberg and Karasti (2013). The authors reflected on developing new concepts
to help workplace and organizational studies understand collaboration in complex,
widely distributed, temporally expanded, and large-scale settings. These settings
are analogous to the challenges imposed on business organizations in emergent
scenarios or recent times with an on-going pandemic, multiple phases and forms of
lockdowns, and further limitations.
The lack of adequate preparation and resources exposes SMEs to threats and
disruptions that may jeopardize organizational sustainability and individual welfare
(Edward, 2010; Barnett & Pratt, 2000). Bhamra et al. (2011) connect the concept
of sustainability with resilience. Holling (1973) introduced the term 'resilience'
from an ecological context, and since then, it has been applied to various contexts
and application domains. While the term may be defined in different ways
depending on context, the concept of resilience revolves around the ability of the
subject to return to a stable state after a disruption. However, the organizational
point of view holds the idea of resilience, signifying its application to both
individual and organizational responses to disturbances and threats (Bhamra et al.,
2011; Braes & Brooks, 2010). It can be further defined as an organization's
capability to prevent, respond effectively to, and survive an unforeseen situation.
The ability to anticipate, adapt to, and take advantage of long-term trends,
opportunities and challenges and potentially thrive in an environment of change
and uncertainty. Also, fundamental learning from past disruptive or disastrous
events is crucial for an organization's business continuity (Egner et al., 2015).
Under the lens of infrastructuring and comprehensive range infrastructure
research in CSCW, the work infrastructure of an individual or an organization is
the entirety of devices, tools, technologies, standards, conventions, and protocols
on which the individual worker or the collective rely to carry out the tasks and
achieve the goals assigned to them. (Pipek and Wulf, 2009). According to Star and
Bowker (2002), infrastructures have a spatial and temporal reach and scope, are
embedded in other social and technological structures, shape and are shaped by
conventions of practice, and, most notably, are invisible and become visible upon
breakdown. These intrinsic peculiarities of an infrastructure substantiate several
aspects of an organization. Simultaneously, the notion of breakdown is inclined to
the idea of disruption and change, hence indicating the context of resilience.
According to Kjeld Schmidt (1994), the formal organization is merely a governance
structure of certain aspects of cooperative work's multifaceted realities. Likewise,
the organizational infrastructures constitute overlapping layers of cyber,
knowledge, information, communication, technological, collaborative, work-
oriented, etc. infrastructures. A substantial amount of research in CSCW excavate
the inner workings of cyber, information, and knowledge-intensive infrastructures,
which are directly and indirectly applicable to organizational infrastructures (Korn
et al., 2017; Ribes & Lee, 2007; Karasti et al., 2010; Karasti & Blomberg, 2017;
Randall et al., 2015; Ribes, 2014; Pipek & Wulf, 2009, Bietz et al., 2012).
Different components within an organizational infrastructure are integrated
through standardized interfaces enabling the work practitioners to channel merits
like openness and heterogeneity (Hanseth & Lundberg, 2001), versatility and
reflexivity (Pipek and Wulf, 2009), longevity and stability (Zimmerman & Finholt,
2007) and expertise sharing (Ley et al., 2014). Information technology (IT)
adoption can make businesses adaptive and flexible, which is also coherent with
the concept of organizational resilience (Pipek and Wulf, 2009; Ley et al., 2014).
However, small enterprises do not clearly and fully understand the weakness of
their IT capability, and this reason often decreases their willingness to adopt
information technology (Chang et al., 2010, Lewkowicz & Liron, 2019).
Infrastructures can also be explored from the viewpoint of disruption or change
(Wiedenhöfer, 2011; Soden & Palen 2016). Infrastructures remain transparent (and
mostly invisible) once established, "reappearing" only at moments of upheaval or
breakdown (Jackson at al., 2007). This inherent imperceptibility in infrastructure
ensures continuity and flexibility in activity spheres. However, when a point of
infrastructure is reached due to disruption or breakdown, it temporarily generates a
stronger implicit tie between the activity spheres, causing the infrastructure to
become an apparent resonating change in a stronger sense of urgency regarding
infrastructure improvements (Ludwig et al., 2018). Many infrastructuring
processes and phenomena emerge from the installed base (from what is already
there) and are strongly influenced by the network of existing dependencies (Karasti
et al., 2018). These infrastructuring features articulate the inherent traits of
organizational resilience like vulnerability, situation awareness, and most
importantly, adaptive capacity to respond to change, disruption, or breakdown
(McManus et al., 2008; Hollnagel et al., 2011; Soden & Palen 2016; Coaffee &
Clarke, 2017). The manifestations of organizational resilience and organizational
infrastructures have overlaps and present unbound research opportunities towards
developing robust, flexible, and adaptable infrastructures. The workshop aims to
help build a richer understanding of issues related to the analysis and design of
resilient infrastructures:
(1) bringing the discussion on organizational resilience under the umbrella of
CSCW to explore the potentials of collaboration and cooperative work in
organizational infrastructures
(2) discussing salient features of organizational infrastructures concerning
resilience theories
(3) the issues, theories, and methods to improve organizational infrastructures
make them self-adjusting and evolving networks of activities, knowledge, tools,
services, etc.
Topics and Participation
To achieve these aims, the workshop will involve a collective sharing and analysis
of case studies and experience from HCI, CSCW, business studies, organization
theory, SME research, digital transformation, crisis informatics, and resilience
research. We invite participants to submit short position papers between 2-4 pages
comprising one or more case studies, empirical research, or at least some
description of infrastructure or organizational setting that the workshop participant
is familiar with and can discuss at the workshop. The position paper should also
include some analysis of that setting. We hope to articulate research dimensions
around organizational infrastructuring that is akin to the research arenas in
organizational resilience.
The short position papers will be distributed to all the participants before the
workshop to allow preparation beforehand and to foster intense discussions at the
main event. The organizers will facilitate discussion by providing some prominent
and overlapping themes identified in advance from the papers. To create a
productive setting in the workshop right away, we would like to encourage you to
reflect on the following issues: field of your research or/and development, SME or
organizational context of the case study, the understanding of resilience strategies,
theories, the concept of infrastructure, infrastructuring and methods concerning
your research. We hope to address topics (questions) within this work such as (but
not limited to):
Barriers to resilient infrastructures
Infrastructural evolution over time
Disruption, change, and innovation as stimuli for infrastructural
Impact of resonance activities on organizational resilience
Improvised collaborations for organizational resilience
Collaborative organizational resilience
Collaboration in coping and recovery work
Collaborative innovation through and by infrastructural inversion
Implications of digital transformation on organizational infrastructure
Implications for resilient organizational infrastructure design
Strategies for continuity in crisis
Role of situation awareness in business continuity
Digitalization and the increasing vulnerabilities in organizational
Internet of things for improved organizational resilience
Infrastructural obsolescence
Workshop Schedule and Structure
The temporary event structure of our two-days interactive workshop will be as
follows (might be changed based on the number of participants or in case of
pandemic restricted online event):
Workshop initiation: The co-organizers will make the first pitch with a formal
outline of the workshop, goals, and expected outcomes.
Interactive case study analysis: The presenters will present their case studies for
discussion and brief meta-level analysis within the group in an interactive exercise.
This exercise aims to familiarize the group with individual experiences and open
discussion towards topics to be considered in later sessions. Intuitively, this does
not allow in-depth exploration of the instances but is meant to build up subject
motivation with the group while discovering rigorous discussion themes.
Interactive brainstorming session: We will then continue by picking as a group
issues that warrant further discussion. We will brainstorm multiple exploration
dimensions for the chosen topics and discover open questions, inclusion, and
exclusion criteria for a thorough discussion.
Breakout group discussion: In the afternoon, we will break into smaller groups.
Each group will be assigned a topic and will be moderated by a smaller set of co-
organizers. The issues will be explored in slightly more depth, again running them
through the example set of case studies and considering the different aspects that
Plenary session: We will get together after the group work, reporting shortly about
the groups' different discussions and outcomes.
Wrap-up: The co-chairs will present concluding remarks and the takeaways from
the workshop.
The organizers will also discuss the possibility of a joint publication with the
participants to make the findings available for the CSCW research community. The
event structure is not distributed between the working hours, refreshments, and
lunch breaks. This information will be disseminated to the participants before the
workshop, depending upon the workshop's mode (In-venue or online).
Workshop targets:
Case studies of the participants will be explored.
Key issues and workable concepts will be identified.
A joint publication will be planned.
Duration of the workshop: Two day split sessions on 7th and 8th June (four hours
each day with breaks), within conference preferred timeslots i.e., 3 -7 pm CET
Workshop format: Digital via Zoom and interactive tools like Miro etc.
Means of recruiting and selecting participants:
The call for participation will be advertised through the conference website
( and social media channels. The
advert will also be sent to respective mailing lists. A Workshop website will be
established where the workshop proposal is posted together with position papers
and other workshop information. Position paper submission will be via email.
Maximum number of participants: 15
Workshop Organizers
These co-organizers have already committed to the workshop. We have pending
requests from international organizers, which will be included in the camera-ready
version and website.
Hussain Abid Syed (corresponding chair) is a Ph.D. researcher in the BMBF
junior research group KONTIKAT at the University of Siegen, Germany. He is a
computer scientist with a specialization in software technology and data science.
His interests include human-machine interaction (HCI), computer-supported-
cooperative work (CSCW), model-driven software development (MDSD), and
machine learning (ML). He is keen on the application of computing techniques and
software technologies for the enhancement of organizational resilience. His current
research focus is to tailor resilience practices to the context of small and medium
enterprises. He collaborates with the enterprises employing qualitative and
quantitative research methods to generate steady requirements for resilient
Marén Schorch is a Postdoctoral Researcher and leader of the BMBF junior
research group KONTIKAT at the University of Siegen, Germany. She is a
sociologist specializing in qualitative research methods and disaster research. Her
current research deals with continuity and (digital, social, economic) change, and
emergency preparedness. She has published a wide range of articles on her varied
research, co-edited the book "Learning and Calamities. Practices, Interpretations,
Patterns." (Routledge 2015), co-organized several workshops such as on ECSCW
2020 and 2011, CSCW 2014 and CSCW 2017, COOP 2016 and GROUP 2016,
held two masterclasses at ECSCW 2019 and also acts as AC and reviewer for those
conferences (ECSCW, CSCW, CHI etc.).
Sam Addison Ankenbauer is a writer and qualitative researcher. His interests
broadly investigate how technologies can mediate traditional spaces and how these
physical spaces are currently adapting to newer technologies. His current research
explores the tensions between technologies, physical spaces, and the people who
utilize technologies and inhabit spaces. Sam is a doctoral student at the University
of Michigan School of Information. He is also the author of The Wailing for
Liverpool University Press.
Sohaib S. Hassan is a member of the BMBF junior research group KONTIKAT at
the University of Siegen, Germany. He is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the School
of Economic Disciplines, University of Siegen. He is also the Research Coordinator
& Advisor at SME Graduate School, Faculty III, University of Siegen. His research
interests include Strategic Management, SMEs, Innovation, Digital
Transformation, Business Continuity Management
Martin Stein is a Post-Doc researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied
Information Technology FIT, Germany and managing director of open.INC, a
startup focussing on IIoT-solutions. He received his PhD from the School of
Economic Disciplines at the University of Siegen in the department of Information
Systems and New Media. His research is centred around the topics of mobility
support, complex information processing and visualization and participatory
design. In his most recent work, he focuses on the impact of industrial internet of
things (IIoT) technologies on the organizational setting and qualifications needs of
SMEs. He (co)-authored several conference and journal papers, including
publications at ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems,
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, International Journal of
Human-Computer Studies, International Conference on Supporting Group Work,
Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems (COOP). Further, he served as
associate chair for MobileHCI Late Breaking Work 2017 and as reviewer for, e.g.
Konrad Meisner is a Ph.D. student at the university of Siegen at the Chair for
Entrepreneurship and Family Business and a junior researcher at the KontiKat
researcher group. He worked in strategic management in an SME, preparing
innovation and business development on a long-term orientation. He further on
studied SME Management with a focus on family businesses. His current field of
research lies within the digitalization of SMEs and family business, innovation
management and gender-studies.
Sascha Skudelny is a research fellow at the Institute for Media Research and the
iSchool at the University of Siegen. He studied media sciences and human medicine
and is doing his doctorate at the Institute for Microsystems Technology. His
publications and research focus on security communication, collaborative
technologies, process and communication modeling of complex systems, user
experience/usability design and social media analysis/social network analysis as
well as business resilience management and social (governance) resilience
Helena Karasti is Professor in the Department of Digital Design at IT University
(ITU) of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her research interests include infrastructuring,
information/knowledge/research infrastructures, critical data studies, and
integrations of ethnography and design. She has widely published in the fields of
Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Participatory Design (PD) and
Science and Technology Studies (STS). She leads the Responsible Infrastructuring
research group at ITU.
Volkmar Pipek is a Professor of CSCW and HCI at the University of Siegen,
Germany, and has widely published books and articles in CSCW, with a specific
interest in infrastructuring. He is also the co-leader of the project "INF-
Infrastructural Concepts for Research in Cooperative Media" at the Collaborative
Research Centre 1187: Media of Cooperation and mentor of the BMBF junior
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... The absence of a human-centered approach while developing the systems, the complexity and unreliability of the final applications, the failure to include people in the development loop, and the lack of explainability for practitioners are frequently depicted as the key obstacles for greater AI adoption, but with reasonable reasons (Abdul et al., 2018). Different components within an organizational infrastructure are integrated through standardized interfaces enabling the work practitioners to channel merits like reflexivity, longevity, resilience, and heterogeneity (Hanseth & Lundberg, 2001;Pipek & Wulf, 2009;Syed et al., 2021). Medical organizations and practitioners, we argue, would have a difficult time dealing with AI if it does not integrate effortlessly into their present infrastructure, or even worse if it adds more complications. ...
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AI has become an increasingly active area of research over the past few years in healthcare. Nevertheless, not all research advancements are applicable in the field as there are only a few AI solutions that are actually deployed in medical infrastructures or actively used by medical practitioners. This can be due to various reasons as the lack of a human-centered approach for the non-incorporation of humans in the loop. In this workshop, we aim to address the questions relevant to human-centered AI solutions associated with healthcare by exploring different human-centered approaches for 2 designing AI systems and using image-based datasets for medical diagnosis. We aim to bring together researchers and practitioners in AI, human-computer interaction, healthcare, etc. and expedite the discussions about making usable systems that will be more comprehensible and dependable. Findings from our workshop may serve as 'terminus a quo' to significantly improve AI solutions for medical diagnosis.
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This is the final report of our interdisciplinary junior research group KontiKat (2017-2021). It contains 1) a brief description of the KontiKat project (terms of reference, preliminary work, planning and process with an overview of all group members and the work packages, the scientific and technical status to which the project was linked as well as the cooperation) and 2) a detailed description of all research and development work as well as public relations activities: empirical studies conducted (several quantitative, representative surveys and qualitative studies), our practice-based and user-centred four technical IT developments, and information on achievements of the group members' education and training concept as a qualification in the field of civil security research. We conclude with explanations of the necessity and appropriateness of the work, an exploitation plan, references to other works, and a list of all our 130 publications. The report summarizes the extensive work of the Kontikat group on the analysis of societal and business vulnerability and the measures, studies and IT solutions developed to promote civic and business continuity with the help of cooperative technologies in crisis or disaster situations. Our work contributes to strengthening resilience and prevention as emergency preparedness of the population and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany.
The Covid-19 pandemic struck the world in spring 2019 and affected most people in the world. One group that suffered the most was older adults and others ‘weak’ citizens. In Sweden where the reported-on study was situated, especially people living in nursing homes and other care facilities suffered immensely, especially in the early stages of the pandemic. In this paper we report on perspectives and lessons learned from a survey compiled by 13 care managers in eleven Swedish municipalities followed by a workshop with ten of these municipality health managers. Our study showcase how technology has been a valuable tool for these organizations during the pandemic. While Internet-cameras in some instances has been used in private homes to facilitate ‘remote monitoring’, many of our findings points to aspects of managing care – a less studied aspect within the Pervasive health community.KeywordsMunicipalityTechnologyCovid-19Lessons learnedPandemic
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This paper reports on a “Industry 4.0” project supported by the government through the French public investment bank. This project was launched by a major industrial actor in the gas domain and aims at equipping its factories with digital technologies, and at connecting all these factories through a centralized supervision center, named Operational and Optimization Remote Center (OORC). Based on our observation in production sites and the OORC, we present the new organization of work that takes place in this context, and the digital artifact that was introduced to support it. We analyze its use and identify some failures related to the gap between its features and the existing documentation practice in the factories. We then claim that industry has to “turn to practice” to accomplish its digital transformation. This paper contributes to what we foresee as a research agenda for CSCW researchers wishing to contribute to the fourth industrial revolution and the related digital transformation of work in industrial settings.
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'Infrastructuring' as a concept draws attention to the way in which a designed artefact or system is not the end of the development process. Rather, technology development takes place up to, and including, its successful establishment in an associated body of practices. This places emphasis upon the role of practitioners as designers of their own practice environments. While the activities of professional technology development have been reasonably well discussed and conceptualized, activities that practitioners perform to make things work for them are less acknowledged as a systematic contribution to the successful establishment of the use of IT. This paper considers in particular the so-called 'point of infrastructuring': the moment at which practitioners become aware of opportunities to (re-)design their infrastructures, usually initiated by breakdowns or the recognition of potential innovations and reconsideration of current infrastructural use. From this point onwards, end users themselves may start configuring, tailoring or developing new conventions until a point has been reached in which a new technology usage has been successfully established. However, points of infrastructuring do not only provoke end-user driven in-situ design (or 'infrastructuring') activities. They also evoke so-called 'resonance activities'. These encompass all of the observations and communications that attend upon a point of infrastructure as it becomes visible within a work environment. Examination of resonance activities can be a starting point for a better understanding of the practitioner's activities beyond single infrastructural changes, providing a way of highlighting the relationship between different points of infrastructuring. How to capture and understand resonance activities and how to design technological support for them is still an open question. Based on previous work outlined in the literature and an empirical study that looked at collaborative appropriation activities (the most important aspect of infrastructuring) during 3D printing processes, we outline the concept of sociable technologies as a technological approach for capturing and supporting resonance activities and thus enabling infrastructuring activities more broadly.
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This issue of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (vol. 27, no. 2) is the second and final part of the three issues focusing on the topic of ‘Infrastructuring and Collaborative Design’. The first part of the special issue was published as a double issue (vol. 26, nos. 1-2) in 2017. Eight articles were published in the first part, and this second part includes four articles, making a total of twelve articles. Amidst the wealth of journal special issues and edited books on (information) infrastructures (Edwards et al. 2009; Lee et al. 2010; Graham and McFarlane 2014; Monteiro et al. 2014; Appel et al. 2015; Karasti et al 2016; Harvey et al 2017; Jensen and Morita 2017), these special issues in Computer Supported Cooperative Work are the first to focus particularly on research that engages with a processual (in-the-making) perspective and/or design-oriented engagement with information infrastructures. We have developed this under the rubric of ‘infrastructuring’. In this afterword to the special issues, we first introduce the remaining four articles, and then review the collection as a whole. Drawing on the special issue articles and existing literature, we discuss dimensions of infrastructuring relating to analytic, methodological and design issues. Further, we consider what this collection of articles tells us about the state of the art in CSCW’s understanding of Infrastructuring and Collaborative Design. We conclude by looking forward to the challenges and opportunities still on the horizon.
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This paper is motivated by a methodological interest in how to investigate information infrastructures as an empirical, real-world phenomenon. We argue that research on information infrastructures should not be captive to the prevalent method choice of small-scale and short-term studies. Instead research should address the challenges of empirically studying the heterogeneous, extended and complex phenomena of infrastructuring with an emphasis on the necessarily emerging and open-ended processual qualities of information infrastructures. While existing literature identifies issues that make the study of infrastructuring demanding, few propose ways of addressing these challenges. In this paper we review characteristics of information infrastructures identified in the literature that present challenges for their empirical study. We look to current research in the social sciences, particularly anthropology and science and technology studies (STS) that focus on how to study complex and extended phenomena ethnographically, to provide insight into the study of infrastructuring. Specifically, we reflect on infrastructuring as an object of ethnographic inquiry by building on the notion of “constructing the field.” Recent developments in how to conceptualize the ethnographic field are tied both to longstanding traditions and novel developments in anthropology and STS for studying extended and complex phenomena. Through a discussion of how dimensions of information infrastructures have been addressed practically, methodologically, and theoretically we aim to link the notion of constructing the ethnographic field with views on infrastructuring as a particular kind of object of inquiry. Thus we aim to provide an ethnographically sensitive and methodologically oriented “opening” for an alternative ontology for studying infrastructuring ethnographically.
Conference Paper
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Disasters and their impacts have unavoidable spatial characteristics. As such, maps are necessary and omnipresent features of the information landscapes that surround and support disaster response. Professional and volunteer GIS services are increasingly in demand to support map-based information visualization during crises. This paper investigates the work of mapmakers working on the response to the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. In comparison to prior events, we found significantly more collaboration and spatial data sharing took place between map producers working across humanitarian organizations and parts of the Nepal government. Collaboration between mapping practitioners was supported by a complex and emergent information infrastructure composed of social and technical elements, some of which were brought through experience with prior disaster events, and some which were shaped anew by the availability and acceptance of open data sources. Our research investigates these elements of the spatial information infrastructure in post-earthquake Nepal to consider infrastructural emergence.
Conference Paper
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In this paper we report the results of a qualitative research study of the GENI cyberinfrastructure: a program of four federated cyberinfrastructures. Drawing on theories of stakeholder positioning, we examine how different GENI stakeholders attempt to enlist new participants in the cyberinfrastructures of GENI, and leverage existing relationships to create sustainable infrastructure. This study contributes to our understanding of how cyberinfrastructures emerge over time through processes of stakeholder alignment, enrollment, and through synergies among stakeholder groups. We explore these issues to better understand how cyberinfrastructures can be designed to sustain over time.
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Emergency or crisis management, as is well-attested, is a complex management problem. A variety of agencies need to collaborate and coordinate in real-time and with an urgency that is not always present in other domains. It follows that accurate information of varying kinds (e.g. geographical and weather conditions; available skills and expertises; state-of-play; current dispositions and deployments) needs to be made available in a timely fashion to the organizations and individuals who need it. By definition, this information will come from a number of sources both within and across organizations. Large-scale events in particular necessitate collaboration with other organizations. Of course, plans and processes exist to deal with such events but the number of dynamically changing factors as well as the high number of heterogeneous organizations and the high degree of interdependency involved make it impossible to plan for all contingencies. A degree of ongoing improvisation, which typically occurs by means of a variety of information and expertise sharing practices, therefore becomes necessary. This, however, faces many challenges, such as different organizational cultures, distinct individual and coordinative work practices and discrete information systems. Our work entails an examination of the practices of information and expertise sharing, and the obstacles to it, in inter-organizational crisis management. We conceive of this as a design case study, such that we examine a problem area and its scope; conduct detailed enquiries into practice in that area, and provide design recommendations for implementation and evaluation. First, we will present the results of an empirical study of collaboration practices between organizations and public authorities with security responsibilities such as the police, fire departments, public administration and electricity network operators, mainly in scenarios of medium to large power outages in Germany. Based on these results, we will describe a concept, which was designed, implemented and evaluated as a system prototype, in two iterations. While the first iteration focuses on situation assessment, the second iteration also includes inter-organizational collaboration functionalities. Based on the findings of our evaluations with practitioners, we will discuss how to support collaboration with a particular focus on information and expertise sharing.
The discourse of resilience has increasingly been utilised to advance the political prioritisation of enhanced security and to extend the performance of risk management in the Anthropocene. This has been notably advanced through integrated approaches that engage with uncertainty, complexity and volatility in order to survive and thrive in the future. Within this context, and drawing on findings from a number of EU-wide research projects tasked with operationalising critical infrastructure resilience, this paper provides a much-needed assessment of how resilience ideas are shaping how critical infrastructure providers and operators deal with complex risks to ‘lifeline’ systems and networks, whilst also illuminating the tensions elicited in the paradigm shift from protective-based risk management towards adaptive-based resilience. In doing so, we also draw attention to the implications of this transition for organisational governance and for the political ecologies of the Anthropocene that calls for more holistic, adaptable and equitable ways of assessing and working with risk across multiple systems, networks and scales.