Privacy, Identity, and Technology View Homepage


Ontology type: schema:MonetaryGrant     


Grant Info

YEARS

2005-2009

FUNDING AMOUNT

749943 USD

ABSTRACT

This project will investigate the ways in which new and emerging information technologies are transforming the practices of privacy and identity in contemporary society. It is concerned with three core questions of social dynamics: How are practices of privacy and identity changing, what new patterns are evolving, and how is the relationship between technical and social being developed? The research will address these questions through ethnographic studies focused on two emerging areas - "blogging" and communication through mobile technologies - in which new practices surrounding privacy and identity are being developed. The results of this investigation will provide designers and policy-makers with a framework for understanding the mutual evolution of technology and practice in the areas of privacy and identity management. Information technology is a key agent of change in contemporary society, and yet our understandings of technology, its shaping, and its impacts are typically fragmented. From an engineering perspective, IT is studied as a technological artifact and measured against predetermined goals; from a social or cultural perspective, it is often treated as a "black box" with little consideration of its nature and detail. This research project aims to address this balance, by bringing together an interdisciplinary group to study a critical nexus of information technology and society - the ways in which information practices in social groups serve to maintain boundaries of membership and information flow. The intellectual approach of this project is based on five fundamental principles. The first is that information technology is a site of social and cultural production. The second is that technology reinscribes prior social and power structures. The third is that "public" and "private" are not rigidly dichotomous. The fourth is that rather than being seen in purely economic or informational terms, privacy should be approached as collective information practice. The fifth is that information practices are a means of identity work. The increasing colonization of everyday life by information technology has major implications for society at large, and this is particularly true for the rise of mobile networked systems. Indeed, concerns over information privacy and security are topics of national and international deliberation. This research will provide individuals and policy-makers with tools to tackle these problems, and technologists with a deeper understanding of the relationship between technical and social in the systems that they develop. More immediately, this interdisciplinary partnership of social scientists and technologists is part of a developing program in interdisciplinary studies of information technology which draw not only on engineering but also on social science, arts, and humanities in order to form a holistic picture of technology and everyday life. By bringing different perspectives together on a problem of clear societal importance, this research will provide a means to integrate both graduate and undergraduate teaching across traditional disciplinary boundaries, building on existing bridges within curricula. More... »

URL

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=0527729&HistoricalAwards=false

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