Att hålla koll på nätet : en studie av ämnesportalen Länkskafferiets utvecklingsprocess 1994-2005
Sammanfattning: This Master’s thesis in library and information science deals with the development of Länkskafferiet, a SBIG created in 1994 by NetLab of the University Library of Lund. Länkskafferiet maintains a selection of quality controlled Internet links for the use of Swedish school children. We have had access to archives and files from the start of Länkskafferiet in 1994 to 2005 and have also interviewed key figures in the project. The case is an interesting example of how librarians and technicians join their skills in order to create an information system, and has a value in itself as a representation of a very dynamic era when Swedish librarians were introduced to and step by step accepted the use of the Internet as a relevant information source. A prerequisite in our thesis is the idea that technological development is a social construction, and thus the result of social negotiations. The aim of the thesis is to study and elucidate the creation and development of Länkskafferiet from 1994 to 2005, as a technological event history. Based on the theories Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) and Social Shaping of Technology (SST) - as explained by Bijker and Pinch 1987, and MacKenzie and Wajcman 1985 - our analysis focuses on the strategies and acts of the social groups involved in the project. A combination of SCOT and SST provides us with the method as well as the theoretical basis of our analysis, and enables us to understand the social processes that are embedded in technological development. Bijker and Pinch introduced multidirectional models as an illustration of technological development. As classical technological artefacts (e.g. the Penny Farthing bicycle) are less dynamic than information technology, where closures tend to be temporary, we found it necessary to develop an improved version of multidirectional model in order to show the process behind the artefact. This allowed us to show that the rules and values of the social groups involved in the development of Länkskafferiet changed during different stages of the process, in order to meet different problems and solutions. Social negotiations constantly occurred as a result of conflicts between social groups, financial problems or technological difficulties. Furthermore, our version of multidirectional model showed that social groups were not static but could split, disappear or regroup in new combinations depending on what the artefact required at the moment. We showed that the affinity between different social groups changed over time and how these changes influenced their work, with a focus on the librarians in the project. Their influence in the development of Länkskafferiet was great, partly because they found the work stimulating and because of personal enthusiasm, but mostly as a result of the tradition at NetLab with its testing milieu and close cooperation between librarians and technicians. We also found that Länkskafferiet was a part of the seamless web of technology and society, i.e. the political, cultural, economical and social context that influences the development of an artefact.
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