Gasser to speak on sociotechnical imagination at business seminar Friday

Les Gasser
Les Gasser

GSLIS Professor Les Gasser will speak this Friday at an Information Systems/Information Technology Seminar hosted by the College of Business’ Department of Business Administration. His talk—based on his forthcoming book—is titled, "The Sociotechnical Imagination: How to Understand, Use, and Teach the Modern Foundations of Social Informatics.” This seminar will be held at 10:30 a.m. in room 2001 BIF.

Abstract: After more than forty years of research, the modern field of social informatics has developed numerous insights and principles for explaining interactions among information/communication technologies (ICTs) and social systems such as organizations, societal institutions, and groups. Over time, consensus has grown around these scientific foundations, but there's still little perspective on how to use them to actually do "sociotechnical analysis of ICTs"—to expose specific enabling conditions and consequences of socially embedded ICTs, and to shape sociotechnical design and policy processes.

This talk will present the core theoretical perspectives of social informatics and how they matter in the practice of sociotechnical analysis for policymaking, sociotechnical "forensics," and design. Gasser will show how these principles apply in substantive areas of concern for organizations and societies, such as transformations of work, privacy, "big data," and the new problematics of autonomous systems, the internet of things, and information/cyber warfare. Woven throughout will be strategies for communicating, learning, and exercising social informatics foundations, based on many years of experience with introductory social informatics courses at graduate and undergraduate levels.

Gasser is a professor in GSLIS, with a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science and faculty affiliate appointments in the Computational Science and Engineering program and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also holds a faculty appointment in the Institute for Software Research at the University of California, Irvine.

Gasser holds a BA in English literature from the University of Massachusetts, and MS and PhD degrees in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine. He has published over seventy technical papers and five books on the topics of social informatics and multi-agent systems.