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Report on the 2013 IADIS conferences ICT and WBC

Report on the 2013 IADIS conferences ICT, Society, and Human Beings 2013 – ICT2013 and Web Based Communities and Social Media 2013 – WBC2013.

The field of Web-based Communities gets more and more interest as we see now at:

  • Firstly, the international political stages that social revolutions build upon them.
  • Secondly we see that social media collect more and more momentum In the case natural catastrophes evolve like the water flood during storm Katrina in New Orleans (2005) and the Tsunami in Japan (2012).
  • Thirdly under the economical regression we see an ever stronger need for Societal Innovation and its challenges currently.

The conference on ICT, Society and Human Beings witnesses the ever stronger symptoms that ICT is only the carrier and catalyst for societal evolution. Typical for system designers is the trust that systems will work autonomously and satisfactory. In the meanwhile we see that issues of safety and privacy keep growing; It is not the question if ICT will help human gatherings and communication; more urgent is the question how and when certain levels of dissatisfaction will trigger severe civil distrust that may hamper governance and enforce new leadership. In order to exemplify the mentions themes I would like to remind the next keynote and workshop presentations.

Valeri Souchkov focused on the issue of fixation during problem solving so that the real ideal solutions do not pop up in the human mind. Triz is the methodology to make creative problem solving more explicit, systematic and transparent. Valeri illustrated that finding empty parking places in a parking lot normally triggers inadequate suggestions like GPS-controlled car navigation, etc, while in fact the ideal solution has been found in a simple yellow balloon that pops up when a car leave the parking slot and is pulled down once a car enters this place. In other words: the balloon is a crucial step in prompting car drivers the empty spaces and bypasses very complex mapping and navigation. Triz has proved toreveal elegant and sustainable solutions just by stimulating the designer to give up contradictions in the problem specification. More examples were given in the fields of yielding drinking water, releasing fish from the ice blocks etc.

Prof Gunilla Bradley highlighted the need for societal change for the situations when convenience and automatic comfort starts to fail. Her lecture considers psycho-social factors that affect institutional well-being however not automatically promotes understandings of social interaction. Her model shows that that the study of ICTs in society demands a much broader range of understandings of social interaction that has been traditionally associated with information systems and in this way warns us for too euphoric smart technologies.

As final consideration in the Web-based and Human Aspects conference it was the feeling that the further penetration of social media and societal web systems need to be viewed through the critical lens of a community that can hardly take care for all of its members; Members among themselves need to widen their scope of care and attention in order to cope with poverty and loneliness. The European Horizon 2020 projects have an explicit attention for Social Challenges and Societal Change. We expect conference participants to be keen on these research agendas and report on taken perspectives in the coming IADIS 2014 MCCSIS Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. In between we will keep in contact via social media like Facebook and Twitter