Dr. Toni Samek and Dr. Ali Shiri


Contributions to information ethics occur between disciplines, across different disciplines (e.g., computer science, gender studies, law, business), and even beyond disciplines. And because information work is often political it is important for educators to examine, explore, and teach a range of social responsibility and ethical implications as reflected in an increasingly intense information society. Looking through the specific lens of the North American library and information studies landscape, we can see that teaching and scholarship are heavily weighted to techno-managerial curricular design and research. However, broadly in society, social responsibility, social justice, and global information justice movements blend people and concerns for the human condition into theories and practices of social computing applications and environments. Our contribution is a knowledge mapping of social responsibility in an information intensive society and the final product that we hope to share with ETHICOMP is a taxonomy.

Dr. Samek’s ongoing immersion and scholarship in human rights forms the basis for our taxonomic content. In her scholarship, she studies evidence of voices and other human traces that reflect contemporary local, national and transnational calls to action on conflicts generated by failures to acknowledge human rights, by struggles for recognition and representation, by social exclusion and by library and related cultural institutional roles in these conflicts. Through content analysis of human rights literature (including workbooks) she collates terms (e.g. protest, human security, survival) that she then tests out for matches in global library and information worker advocacy and activism. For example, for human rights terminology such as “revitalization” and “human security” she points to such activities as the Joint UNESCO, CoE and IFLA/FAIFE Kosova Library Mission. Dr. Shiri’s intellectual contribution draws on his sophisticated research in the development and evaluation of knowledge organization systems such as thesauri and taxonomies. Using facet and subject analyses, his work shapes the foundation for the design of the underlying framework and knowledge structure of our taxonomy.

Some knowledge organization systems have been developed for the analysis and documentation of human rights literature, such as Human Rights Thesaurus and Human Rights Documentation Classification. Our taxonomy is different from these kinds of tools in that it addresses and encompasses the information-focused themes and terms evidenced in global social responsibility initiatives and emergent social computing applications. Herein, our knowledge mapping aims to provide a deeper, more comprehensive, and intercultural snapshot of social media and social computing technologies within these broader contexts.

We propose ten high level categories (e.g., communities, social computing applications, activities and operations) that reflect prevalent contemporary aspects of social responsibility in information society. We also assign each of these ten categories a specific set of sub-facets and terms that reflect concrete actions – both physical and digital – and perhaps most interestingly in the emergent realm of digital human connections and exchanges. And we situate this work in the trans-disciplinary communities of scholarship with a common interest in information ethics, social responsibility and computer ethics.

We hope that by introducing our taxonomy to the ETHICOMP community we can receive direct and diverse feedback to help us move forward in the development of a more refined and inclusive iteration that can be used for the organization, sharing and searching of physical and digital information by multiple stakeholders in society. Here below is a version of our first-stage taxonomy (though not in its complete form for the purposes of word count).
Table fig1