Inequality within an Information Ecology

Ain’t gone be no conflict. I’m the only one who bought the iPads so I’m the only one who gets to make the plan.

This is what my mother said when I asked her what conflicts she foresaw arising from her regulation of my brother and sister’s iPads. I was interviewing her because I was analyzing my family using an information ecology metaphor, as constructed by Bonnie Nardi and Vick O’Day in Information Ecologies. “In information ecologies, the spotlight is not on technology, but on human activities that are served by technology.” (Nardi & O’Day, 1999, 49) The authors use the ecology metaphor because it allows for the most complete analysis of the relationship between humans and technology. Using this analysis, Nardi and O’Day argue that all members of the ecology should be included in the conversation when planning to introduce a new technology into an information ecology. That being said, what I think the authors are missing from their analysis is role of power.

What happens to an ecology where open discussion just isn’t possible? 

In the case of my information ecology, my mother was expressing an unwillingness to even include my siblings in the conversation. When I went to write my paper, I noticed that Nardi and O’Day do not address this in their book. They do give an example of an ecology where all parties were not included in the plan for the ecology but they do not provide suggestions of how to help get all parties involved and balance the scales, how to get the conversation started. The example in the book led to mistrust and strained relationships between the people within the ecology. I don’t want that to happen in my family.

Nardi and O’Day say, “just talk — has the power to change things…” (75) That’s only if you can get a health conversation started.

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