Now, if you are writing the dissertation for the first time, which you probably are since you are reading it, there is much to acquaint you with, in the phenomenon of 'raising a question or answering one'.
Let's straight up explore them all. On y va! The first chapter in a dissertation is dedicated to presenting the conceptual foundation behind investigating a matter, including the questions, the hypotheses, as well as the cardinal research design.
Further, the introduction part of a dissertation discusses the importance of the study by narrating how the research is new, or distinct from various other research undertakings of the past. It also tells the reader how the dissertation confronts the entity that is unknown or has yet not been taken up. In case, the dissertation is aimed at extending an already proposed area of study, mention how your dissertation actually furthers it, and in what ways.
The Introduction shall also concisely present the elementary nature of your research, followed by offering a run-through of the contents that are going to find space in the later parts of Chapter 1, and Chapter 2. These can come out in the slightest effort if you keep yourself aware that, from Chapter 1, up to Chapter 3, you typically proffer your research.
Some insight: Students and scholars who have done these before know that they may keep coming back to the Introduction chapter to refine it, and making it more complete, and intelligible. This also helps them in manufacturing the consistency factor in their dissertation since they are revising it.
The chapter of the Literature Review is for delineating the theoretical structure for the research, and the origin of the argument, the problems, the inconsistencies, the question, and the components of your research design. Time for an insight! An in-depth literature review bestows your research the luxury of being a contributory one.
The further objective of a Literature Review, or perhaps the more complete one, is to showcase the strong reasons for your choice of the dissertation. Not only the justification for a topic but what Chapter 2 also embodies is improved construction of the research questions, as well as the methodology s being employed.
Therefore, yes, the Chapter is going to incorporate all the famous names associated with the subject and their work. Yet, make sure you do not confuse it with a bibliography. Faculty in the globally prestigious institutions like the University of Toronto, The University of British Columbia, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, and the University of Alberta - often stress on the Literature Review part of dissertations, naming it the indicator of knowledge on the subject, and how deep the student has gone to make justice with the topic they are writing in.
Of course, you can always get some course work help, to let yourself out of the toil. Next up, is your dissertation's Chapter 3, which is called the chapter of Methodology. This part is as self-explanatory as the preceding or the successive chapters are, and would be, respectively. And, the same would be its complexity, to prove these presumptions wrong to some extent. The chapter of Methodology in your dissertation composes the manners in which your research is being hosted, however, in the most comprehensive way.
Scholars may commence with a synopsis as if they are writing an entire paper within Chapter 3. Yes, you heard it right! And yes, you are also free to use your introduction and the literature review part in strengthening up the chapter. In other words, you need to concentrate all your resources on building a methodology that cannot be disputed over, because this might jeopardize your entire dissertation.
And, because only the methodology gives a dissertation validity. Now, after arriving at Chapter 4, the entire narration takes a shift. It is because all the introductions, literature reviews, and methodologies by this time, have already been performed. Therefore, any reference to the previous chapters should be strictly made in the past tense. This part is important because many of the scholars, who are enrolled with dissertation writing service providers for long term assignment help, or short term assignment help for that matter — often tend to forget making the change.
This, although minutely, botches up the consistency of the paper. Coming to the even more important part of the Chapter, which is also the purpose of the entire dissertations, the data collection, its analysis, and the outcomes should be in indomitable health. This means that the presentation of the data and the results should be robustly making sense to the persons reading chapter 4 of your dissertation. To make this happen, students often use a ton of analytical illustrations like tables, charts, diagrams, whichever applicable.
Once again, since it is the purpose of your dissertation, make it something remarkable. Boundary objects were operationalized in the qualitative methods content analysis, interviews using the concepts of sites and technologies from the social worlds perspective. In the survey, they were measured using a separate scale in addition to scales for sites and technologies. The scale for boundary objects was found to have poor reliability and was dropped. This section focuses on the findings for the phenomena of sites and technologies, from all three methods, and their relation to the roles of LibraryThing and Goodreads as boundary objects in the existing and emergent communities of users from the nine groups.
Distinctions in the relationship between sites and technologies were also uncovered from the interviews, and are discussed later in this chapter. The lower levels of coherence associated with sites seen in both digital libraries and of convergence associated with sites in LibraryThing as part of the content analysis may be a result of different group experiences than those of the survey participants and interviewees.
Although all LibraryThing survey participants had seen the survey because they had posted in one of the five groups, visited it during the recruitment period, or posted in a thread analyzed during the content analysis, the primary groups they were part of may not have been a group selected for the content analysis; this is borne out in only one LibraryThing interviewee choosing a critical incident known to be from a selected group Melissa in Group C.
The role of LibraryThing and Goodreads serving as sites is strongest, for users from the nine groups, in those cases where groups have already converged on other phenomena, but by providing a common space for users to get together they serve a moderate, yet important role as boundary objects between their existing communities. Not all participants would agree due to bad experiences Betty or a deliberate choice to not engage as much Taneesha, Jennifer, Kevin to a minor extent.
LibraryThing and Goodreads must choose whether to address the desires of these kinds of users to use other sites as spaces and places to engage in their activities of choice. If they would like to play a continuing and successful role in the activities of all of their users and user communities, then accounting for the use of other spaces and environments is necessary.
Indications across all three methods were that technology is of moderate importance to the role LibraryThing and Goodreads play for users of the nine groups, because the technology implemented allows users to discuss and interact, organize and catalog, and for the digital libraries to exist as digital libraries and online communities. Coherence appears higher than convergence for most, although a few users use technological features to support the emergence of new social and information worlds.
Such use makes sense; since boundary spanners are already cognizant of the boundaries of groups, communities, and the two digital libraries as a whole, they are more likely to have the site play a strong role as a technological boundary object as part of their behavior. Finding ways to encourage users to cross the boundaries and be cognizant of the multiple communities—which overlap and nest in many cases, but not all—that exist around LibraryThing and Goodreads would lead to greater technological convergence and a stronger role for the two sites as technological boundary objects.
From the content analysis and interviews three emergent phenomena appeared: other boundary objects, boundary spanners, and outsiders. Lifecycles only appeared from the interviews. Findings analyzed under that open code that were analyzed as falling elsewhere were included in the discussions above; findings only relating to lifecycles, while of interest in the context of potential further research, do not have direct relevance to the research questions in this study and are not discussed further here.
Various other boundary objects play a role in the social and information worlds of users from the nine groups, including books, web sites, online resources and articles, unpublished writing, book reviews, web search results, a publisher, a library, the process of receiving books for review, the weather, a web comic strip, and illustrations. Further theoretical considerations around the potential role of these other boundary objects and a sociotechnical view of boundary objects are discussed later in this chapter.
Most of this spanning was across two or more groups within LibraryThing or Goodreads, as seen with Jared in the content analysis and Lindsey and Miriam in the interviews. In some cases, new group members explicitly thanked other members for inviting them or introducing them to the group; such messages were not discussed during the interviews, but may have occurred with the members Lindsey and Miriam invited to join groups and threads.
Differences between groups can as Rachelle alluded to make boundary spanning difficult, but the benefits in doing so are evident in all the cases seen. These benefits extend to the emergent communities that were strengthened through boundary spanning activities and to LibraryThing and Goodreads, which play an important role in providing a framework for the occurrence of boundary spanning—and the attendant translation, coherence, and convergence processes—and for supporting it among users from the nine groups.
In the interview data a few outsiders Chatman, are mentioned, with the dual role of authors as insiders and outsiders in different contexts and from the perspective of different users emerging as one finding. There was another dual role in the case of Melanie, an inactive member of the community around LibraryThing Group C who still visited on occasion and was, in terms of the system and its technology, still a member of the group.
Coherence of the latter was a more difficult problem than sick cats or cultural outsiders, since authors must play a key role in the larger social and information world of publishing. This section addresses the research questions for this study, working across all methods and all phenomena to report the big picture in relation to the research questions. As stated in Chapters 1 , 3 , and 4 , the two research questions driving this study are as follows:. Three categories or types of role are played by LibraryThing and Goodreads, as boundary objects, in the existing and emergent social and information worlds of users from the nine groups.
These are:. Structure -based roles, where LibraryThing and Goodreads facilitate and support translation, coherence, and convergence through the establishment of community and organizational structure. This role was found for both RQ1 and RQ2 see sections 5. Values -based roles, where LibraryThing and Goodreads facilitate and support translation, coherence, and convergence through users sharing information values.
Social network -based roles, where LibraryThing and Goodreads facilitate and support coherence and convergence through the establishment of social ties and community culture. This role was found for RQ2 see section 5. The following sections answer RQ1 and RQ2, discussing each of the roles identified above and how that role comes about in the context of relevant literature.
Detailed discussion of facets of the roles and findings that may impact or lead to recommendations for digital library design and practice; research in digital libraries, social informatics, and information behavior; and theory in those same areas, relating the findings to further literature, is presented in the sections that follow.
When LibraryThing and Goodreads serve as organizations, they play a necessary role in the existing social and information worlds of users from the nine groups, given that they are engaged in some form of information behavior or activities on the site.
Those who are heavy users of the organizational features lists, searching, cataloging, etc. Users who spend more time invested in the groups feature and other spaces for social interactions on the site do not see LibraryThing and Goodreads serving a structural role as an organization.
In some of those cases the digital libraries serve a moderate, yet important structural role as a boundary object and site for information behavior within the existing social and information worlds of those users from the nine groups. Those who choose to use other sites for other information behavior or not engage as much in interactions weaken this role; LibraryThing and Goodreads are not always perfectly adaptable to their worlds.
Others stressed in the interviews how the sites in both social world and web senses fit their chosen and valued information behavior and activities, implying high levels of coherence and a stronger role if not as strong as in the context of some other phenomena for LibraryThing and Goodreads as boundary objects in those cases. For many of these same users, the digital libraries serve a structural role in convergence, due to serving as a site for normative information behavior and activities in emergent social and information worlds; see section 5.
In most cases seen in the nine groups, including users who focus on the organizational technologies and users who focus on groups and interaction, technology is important to the coherence of existing communities. The technology implemented by LibraryThing and Goodreads allows users to discuss and interact, organize and catalog, and engage in information behavior and activities; in essence, the full spectrum of features, activities, and abilities ascribed to a social digital library see section 2.
Linking to discussion pages and organizing group discussion boards do not fall under social annotation, but still create structure within the community environment; this is similar to the inclusion of such linking structure in the Ensemble digital library portal and DL 2.
Both sets of activities require technology to play a role in turning LibraryThing and Goodreads from a box on the end of an Internet connection into digital libraries, online communities, and virtual book clubs cf. Rehberg Sedo, ; Fister, The roles the two play, for users of the nine groups, as technological boundary objects in the structural coherence of social and information worlds are quite strong. A value-based role for LibraryThing and Goodreads is seen in those communities and contexts where users from the nine groups discuss or imply their individual values of objects and discussion topics of interest.
Such individual values cohere with those of others in some cases, but divergences are present and accepted. Nevertheless, divergences and lack of coherence in some values may be an asset and themselves valued by members of a broader community, as in the virtual book clubs studied by Rehberg Sedo Along with information values themselves, it is the process of translation and its potential to lead to coherence that is most important in a values-based role for LibraryThing and Goodreads within existing communities.
In this context, the process of translation consists of negotiation and reconciliation of the meanings and understandings underlying the values and interests of individuals and the meanings and understandings they bring to the table from their existing social and information worlds. As a process, translation may lead to coherence of those values implicitly or explicitly.
Translation can lead to better understanding of where divergences and disagreements exist, allowing maintenance of coherence over time without major conflict. LibraryThing and Goodreads serve an implicit and often key role in facilitating this translation process for users from the nine groups.
Shared values, conformity, and reciprocity are frequent motivators for knowledge sharing Ardichvili, This leaves potential implications for how translation and bridging of values can lead to a stronger role for a digital library in communities, and greater information sharing and interaction in and between those communities, as translation moves towards coherence and possible convergence.
Social norms, normative information behavior, and sites for that behavior to take place in are important, key factors in the structural roles LibraryThing and Goodreads play in the emergent communities of users from the nine groups. Key members in the LibraryThing groups, and key members in and moderators of the Goodreads groups, establish explicit social norms and rules as guides for the community and to govern the use, purpose, and normative information behavior of groups and their associated sites.
A structural role is more common for Goodreads to take on because of greater technological facilitation through stronger moderator privileges and the additional organizational structure of message folders. Sites, in many cases, had already converged due to other phenomena; in those cases the role of LibraryThing or Goodreads for users of the nine groups is stronger than in cases where a site emerged later. These become most evident when they conflict with explicit norms of other intersecting communities such as in the Goodreads shelving controversy.
The danger of having too much structure and of insular groupthink see e. Tsikerdekis, can be seen in such conflicts, where the common identity of LibraryThing and Goodreads across the social and information worlds of users from the nine groups becomes of some question; in effect, some communities—being perceived as organizations by their users—risk being too unaware of other communities, other objects, and other interpretations of the digital libraries as boundary objects.
When they introduced convergence, Star, Bowker, and Neumann warned that communities might "close off other possibilities of finding information … because they are not part of the routine" p. Roberts warned of similar concerns over groupthink in how knowledge acquisition may be limited by the "predispositions" of communities of practice p.
As she suggested in that environment, LibraryThing and Goodreads—and groups that are part of the two digital libraries—should consider the socio-cultural and organizational contexts they are part of and the boundaries that exist within and beyond those contexts, so that "other possibilities" Star et al. Nevertheless, in most of those instances where LibraryThing or Goodreads play a structural role for users from the nine groups, convergent communities are established and maintained as sites for information behavior and activities, with the digital libraries having much to do with facilitating and supporting these communities and the normative information behaviors and activities of users within them.
They play a structural role in allowing the strongest communities, with the most structure, to emerge as organizations to further their activities, but with the risk of conflict should those organizations develop substantive differences in their norms, values, and information behavior. In emergent communities, translation enters into a structural role. Similar processes were at play in the virtual book clubs studied by Rehberg Sedo , Fister , and Greene The part played by translation in maintaining convergence in emergent structural communities and in bridging their structures of distributed knowledge cf.
Haythornthwaite, is indicative of its importance in how—at least among the nine groups sampled in this study—LibraryThing, Goodreads, and their users can avoid major conflict and maintain a strong structure of multiple social and information worlds.
By using the technology to link to other messages, threads, or groups, these individuals could encourage the coherence and convergence processes along. The two digital libraries provide the necessary technological framework to support such boundary spanning activities. Kazmer et al. As with these studies, boundary spanners identified in this study from LibraryThing and Goodreads are shaped by and mutually shape the digital library and the groups they participate in c. These boundary spanners, given their greater awareness of the existing boundaries and boundary objects at play in the sociotechnical system, are well-positioned for increasing the role that LibraryThing or Goodreads play, as boundary objects, in technological convergence for users from the nine groups.
In values-based communities, convergence of those values tends to be an implicit process. As users from the nine groups discuss or imply their individual values, interests, and opinions, they react to and reflect on what others have shared and the commonalities they have.
Values converge, but convergence is not complete; differences remain and users often realize that is the case which may have led to their responses on the survey. Nevertheless, those differences themselves are valued, and communities form and converge that users feel part of and value for emotional, cultural, and informational reasons. Besides the relations between shared values and common ground already mentioned, the work of Shilton, Koepfler, and Fleischmann has focused on the role played by values in the design of technologies and sociotechnical systems, and has potential implications and application for further and deeper research into the role of values in the sociotechnical contexts of digital libraries as they serve as boundary objects.
LibraryThing and Goodreads serve a moderate role, in implicit fashion, as boundary objects in the convergence processes around information values in the emergent communities of users from the nine groups. Certain elements of normative information behavior and activities lead to a social network-based role being played by LibraryThing and Goodreads for users from the nine groups. By engaging in common activities, "occupations," and "pursuits," users feel they can establish connections between each other and feel part of a community-as-social-world.
Those connections become social ties and a common community culture through the coherence and convergence of continued activities and information behavior, information values in relation to that behavior, and sites for those activities and behaviors to take place in. Such a network-based community is not as reliant on LibraryThing and Goodreads as a venue for its information behavior and activities, but the digital libraries still play a weaker role for users from the nine groups in allowing community members to connect and interact through normative activities and information behaviors.
They serve as a standard meeting ground from which users can later branch out if they wanted, as occurred with Melissa and LibraryThing Group C and with the shifting of Sam and others from a public to a private LibraryThing group. Chiu, Hsu, and Wang found stronger social ties to predict the quantity but not quality of knowledge sharing in an online Taiwanese IT community; quantity of contribution was not analyzed in this study. Social ties were part of a typology Amin and Roberts proposed to replace communities of practice for studies of learning and knowing in action and practice.
They stressed the different contexts, environments, assemblages, ecologies, and spaces surrounding the activities of learning and knowing, a view not altogether incompatible with the framework for and approach taken to the present dissertation study. Social types are a part of a social network-based role for LibraryThing and Goodreads among users of the nine groups. Although their importance is weaker than most of the other phenomena, in those cases where users invoke implicit or explicit social types they tend to be of outsiders and stronger ties.
The latter is indicative of higher comfort levels, within a strong social network, with characterizing other members of the network: knowing someone well means one is more at ease with sharing that knowledge as interpreted in individual or socially constructed context with others.
This finding is common sense, but there is little to no literature that explains how differences in comfort level affect willingness to type as will be discussed further later. There is a weak, but still existent role for LibraryThing and Goodreads in the facilitation of tie formation and maintenance cf.
Typing of outsiders goes with the territory of LibraryThing and Goodreads being intended to play a role—be it coherent or convergent—for readers first, although Rachelle and others questioned whether that remained as true of Goodreads as in the past. Among users from the nine groups, the two digital libraries provide the necessary environment to support such boundary spanning activities and shape the boundary spanners, who shape LibraryThing and Goodreads and the groups within the site right back by establishing connections between social and information worlds that had no ties in common c.
Boundary spanners, through their awareness of where the boundaries are in the existing social networks and communities, are well-positioned for strengthening community convergence based on social ties. In doing so, they strengthen the roles of LibraryThing and Goodreads, as boundary objects, in the convergence and emergence of social network-based communities.
Nevertheless, the activity of the boundary spanners themselves plays the largest role here; LibraryThing and Goodreads are facilitators, not initiators, and their role in this case is moderate. This section of the discussion considers the relation of the findings reviewed above and in Chapter 4 to digital library design and practice, in both theoretical and common-sense terms. Relevant literature and potential implications of the findings in this light and in the context of the limitations of this study see section 5.
The findings of this research imply establishing one or more communities around a social digital library is possible. Coherence and convergence—the coming together of a community around common characteristics and understanding—occurred in many cases seen in the content analysis and interviews, and the survey findings were indicative of LibraryThing and Goodreads playing strong roles in the emergence of shared communities among the nine groups sampled.
There were cases of conflict seen, where communities were not maintained at the same level or did not see as much success in their establishment. Findings and the research literature imply the first step should be to establish coherence, or to re-establish it if necessary. If conflict has occurred, the best way for a community and its users to recover from a bad experience is to establish community and organizational structure and share values.
Perfect coherence should not be the goal; a partially negotiated and translated understanding between users of the norms and rules of the community and of what information is of common value can be enough for a community to become a place users want to interact as in the virtual book clubs studied by Rehberg Sedo, Key in this are the translation processes—negotiating and reconciling the meanings and understandings users have—that allow coherence to begin to be established.
Digital libraries should further encourage leaders of communities within the digital library to stress these processes and resources to other users, leading to more frequent distributed knowledge creation and sharing Ardichvili, ; Haythornthwaite, ; Kazmer et al. Many of these questions are those users should have answered to establish coherence of common social norms and rules, valuing of information, and information behavior and activities. Doing so will allow meanings and understandings to be reconciled between different users and user communities.
Paraphrased, some of these include:. For many of these suggestions, Preece suggested providing structure for supporting translation and coherence: stating the purpose in clear terms, explaining membership and rules, developing help pages and a list of frequently asked questions that explain how the community works, providing direct help when and where needed, facilitating the information seeking and searching process, and encouraging leaders to stimulate continued interaction.
Some of these were seen in the present study in one group, LibraryThing Group C, who had created pages and threads that introduced the group, its rules, and its members. All indications were having these resources present for those new to the community or needing a refresher served to help facilitate translation, coherence, and convergence.
Leaders within the community—moderators, boundary spanners, and others with high visibility—should engage in the processes that create these resources; wiki technology or concepts have potential for facilitating this Frumkin, ; Krowne, Their coherence to the community as it changes should be maintained, and further translation of meanings and understandings for existing and new members should take place when necessary.
Another important element of establishing community around a digital library is that both coherence of existing user communities and convergence of one or more emergent communities can be necessary. As seen in conflicts due to groupthink see e. Tsikerdekis, , sometimes a community can "close off other possibilities" that are outside its borders.
To serve a successful role as a boundary object, a digital library must adapt to the "local needs" Star, , p. At least a moderate degree of coherence between the communities that use a digital library—be they those emerging from its use or those already existing beyond it—will support this.
To facilitate this coherence, digital library designers and practitioners should ensure that clear expressions of site-wide social norms and rules, understanding of what types of information are valued, and expectations for normative information behavior and activities are made, using many of the same suggestions made by Preece discussed above. At the same time, they should be willing to engage in a translation and negotiation process with users and the communities they are part of, an interactive discussion of the meanings and understandings behind these expressions.
This will help maintain coherence with the social norms and rules, information needs and values, and normative information behavior users expect, based on their pre-existing communities and experiences. Those who span the boundaries between multiple communities—as in the experiences of Miriam and Lindsey among the interviewees—can help with this process.
More negotiation—with both readers and authors—and a clearer statement of values and expectations may have alleviated the conflict Goodreads and its communities faced over its policies on typing authors via shelf names, for example. When translation leads to coherence and coherence to convergence, social ties—connections between multiple users based on one or more relationships between them, often including an informational component see e.
Garton et al. Ties facilitate and support everyday life information behavior Savolainen, , which may start out as non-normative but becomes normative as users look to share and converge their values, norms, and culture and form tight-knit communities along the lines of the virtual book club Fister described.
User profiles are a good way to help facilitate ties; as seen among the users from the nine groups in this study, this allows them to learn about and get to know each other from looking at the information they have posted about themselves and the identity they choose to present. While privacy concerns must be considered, encouraging users to fill out most of the fields in their profiles will give them greater control over how their identity is perceived by others.
The usefulness of profiles is limited, however; not all users will want to portray or disclose the same identity to everyone using a given digital library or part of a given online community. The specific context is important to behavior, activities, norms, interests, and other facets of identity construction, as literature on context collapse and online identity indicates see e. User profiles can only go so far to facilitate the sharing of identity—as individually and socially constructed in varied contexts—and the formation of ties.
Providing separate sites and spaces for off-topic discussion allows for the building of social ties and networks, but ensures users who are only interested in on-topic, normative discussions and do not share common values around off-topic information can skip over most such interactions, if they wish.
Once a social digital library as boundary object has developed features that facilitate its potential structure-, values-, and social network-based roles, it should not push them all out there, without thought, for all its users to see, use, and appreciate. Other findings from the users of the nine groups that were part of this study imply that the digital library should target and promote the right features to the right audience. Not all users will be interested in using every feature, as was seen in the interviews.
Digital library designers and practitioners may think that these or other users should take better advantage of the features provided by a digital library to facilitate and support community and the processes of translation, coherence, and convergence, but we cannot force technology or community down the throats of our users, no matter if we think we know better than they do what features they should use.
This is no less true of digital libraries, as Lynch ; Tuominen, Talja, and Savolainen ; and Van House have helped make clear in the past see also section 2. Those designing and developing digital libraries should keep technology and community in mind during the design process, and not push out features because they might support a small part of the audience.
Targeting the appropriate segment of the audience allows Ann to know about profile features that she finds useful without Taneesha having to know the features are there. As discussed earlier in this chapter, among users from the nine groups in this study boundary spanners—those who crossed the boundaries between different communities—made more frequent use of the technology provided by LibraryThing and Goodreads to support the emergence of new communities.
Their cognizance of the boundaries of the groups and communities that exist within and around the two sites, and of the two digital libraries as a whole, is indicative of the importance of spanning boundaries for facilitating and supporting coherence and convergence and for strengthening communities of all shapes and sizes.
This is true for users, but it is also true for digital libraries themselves and for digital library designers and practitioners. Closing off possibilities Star et al. An awareness of boundaries and a willingness to span them in design and in practice is a necessary quality for those working with digital libraries. Computer scientists should talk to information scientists, and both should talk with sociologists and other social science and humanities scholars. Researchers, theorists, and practitioners should not stay in their insular worlds, but talk about how they can work together.
Those interested in digital libraries should talk with others with similar and different interests, be they in the same discipline or not. By being cognizant of and willing to span the boundaries of the multiple communities that they find themselves in, digital library designers and practitioners will have a greater understanding of how they should do what they do.
Returning to users, the same is no less true: users of social digital libraries—or who are part of any community—should be willing to stretch their legs a little and see what lies beyond the boundaries of any one group or community setting. Encouraging this through design and practice is not easy, but there are some potential approaches.
The activities of the boundary spanners identified among users of the nine groups in this dissertation study show some of these possibilities. Facilitating and encouraging linking between parts of communities and parts of the digital library—in the case of LibraryThing and Goodreads, this includes messages, threads, groups, book pages, author pages, and series pages—allows relevant information that crosses boundaries to be shared, without those boundaries becoming barriers to such sharing.
Technology similar to that proposed in the DL 2. Per Miriam, a new feature on LibraryThing is the introduction of links to active discussions on book pages, which is a great step in this direction. Users should have the option to turn off anything automatic, since they may not be interested in these features see section 5.
The issues of identity construction and impression management surrounding context collapse, especially when boundaries are crossed boyd, , mean that complete convergence and the collapse of all boundaries should not be expected or forced. Multiple findings from this study show that this is not necessary for a digital library to have a strong role in a strong, tight-knit community, but some level of boundary spanning can be productive for users and user communities.
Boundary spanning and crossing can enhance the quality of the information behavior and activities that take place. This is true in scientific collaboration; successful juggling of, bridging between, and adapting to multiple communities and lifecycles increases the likelihood of a scientific team continuing to conduct research and building a long-term research agenda, as they converge their norms, values, behaviors, and other characteristics Burnett et al.
Such common ground then encourages higher quality and quantity in information and knowledge sharing, as seen in online communities Chiu et al. Encouraging interaction between administrators, moderators, boundary spanners, and other active members in social digital libraries should produce similar results. Venues for discussion of community structure across the boundaries of communities—as social and information worlds—could help encourage such discussion and the sharing of information and knowledge between key stakeholders.
Features like these, if built into the design of a social digital library and its ongoing practice, should facilitate and encourage boundary spanning activities, leading to increased coherence and convergence and a stronger role for the digital library, as a boundary object, in the existing and emergent communities it serves. This section considers the relation of the findings discussed above and in Chapter 4 to research in digital libraries, social informatics, and information behavior.
Relevant literature and potential implications of the findings for further research are included throughout. These findings—despite limitations see section 5. Not all individual users or groupings of users can or should be treated as one unit Dervin, ; while user communities must be studied and the broader implications considered, there are other contextual factors that must be taken into account. This study included other demographic and background variables and characteristics as part of its survey instrument, and asked individual users in interviews about their practices and preferences as they used LibraryThing and Goodreads.
Contextual factors of the users from the nine groups such as age; educational level; frequency of use of the Internet, of LibraryThing or Goodreads, and of the groups features; and use of other social networking sites and services impacted on translation, coherence, and convergence; on the social norms, social types, information value, information behavior and activities, and organizations of the users and their communities; and on uses of the digital libraries as sites for information behavior and activities and as technologies supporting such activities.
Individual differences in these factors affected how users chose to participate in groups and communities as part of their use of LibraryThing and Goodreads, with the roles played by the two sites varying from community to community and from user to user. This variance is evidence that these findings may not transfer beyond users of the five LibraryThing and four Goodreads groups to other populations and environments without subtle, context-sensitive changes, although reasonable transferability of the content analysis and interview findings is believed to exist to LibraryThing and Goodreads as a whole.
Contextual factors should be considered in further research—both to confirm the findings and conclusions made here and to build on them—that takes place on LibraryThing, Goodreads, and other social digital libraries as used within and across communities. A digital library does not exist in a vacuum, nor does its use take place solely in individual, technological, or community contexts; the approach of social informatics and sociotechnical research should be taken, considering all of the contexts surrounding the roles of digital libraries within and across communities Edwards et al.
Deeper dives that explore a few facets of this context—while remaining aware of the others—are possible, as are applications of a similar approach and set of background factors to different digital libraries. Such research will help confirm if the interactions of demographic and background variables found here are transferrable to other sets of users and communities and within and around other digital libraries—including those that have less overt social features—or are unique to the particulars of this study and to users from the nine groups studied.
Context enters into how the findings and conclusions of this study, of two social digital libraries, fit alongside other research streams. This research has potential implications for digital library design and practice see section 5. Some of these relating to information values and boundaries are discussed in sections that follow this one. With reference to context, there appears to be great potential to build on this study by comparing across platforms, communities, and user populations with regard to the phenomena seen here.
Translation, coherence, and convergence do not happen in digital libraries alone; all information and communication technologies ICTs should play roles in communities, and studies that apply the concepts and theories of boundary objects, social worlds, and information worlds—or the social informatics, social constructionist, and contextual approach taken here—to other ICTs as used in sociotechnical context can add to the conclusions and potential implications of this current study.
For example, let us consider information behavior and activities, a phenomenon of interest in this dissertation. The findings of this study apply to the specific context that was studied here—five LibraryThing groups and four Goodreads groups—but have potential transferability to other settings and environments. These include digital libraries, of course—with emphasis on those that can be considered social digital libraries—but may include other online communities, social media services, or contexts where social information behavior takes place.
Such transferability must be confirmed by conducting further research and reviewing the related literature. This is not the first study of information behavior, or of activities, that has been completed; Case and Clarke and Star are evidence of that. Such research might maintain a focus on a given platform, such as LibraryThing or Goodreads, and study the information behavior and activities of the many different communities that use them.
Research could shift to studying a broader range of platforms, such as multiple digital libraries, a range of virtual book clubs, other online communities, and other social media sites. For example, examining, comparing, and contrasting information behavior and activities and the processes of coherence and convergence across Facebook, Pinterest, LibraryThing, and Goodreads could provide much insight into the similarities of and differences between how users communicate and interact on each of those sites; their use of the technical structure provided for organization, curation, and interaction; and the social phenomena of forming social ties, maintaining social ties within and across communities, and boundary spanning.
Research could move further beyond this, to considering other facets of information behavior that involve social or community contexts such as mobile information sharing as suggested by Worrall, a. These kinds of studies would use many of the same theories and approaches as this dissertation study, but move beyond a focus in online communities or digital libraries and allow for comparison of phenomena of interest in the areas of social informatics and information behavior with the findings and conclusions discussed here.
The next two sections consider two areas of interest to social informatics and information behavior researchers for which the current findings have particular overlap and potential implications: a information values and b boundaries. The strongest factor found to influence the roles that LibraryThing and Goodreads played in the existing and emergent communities of users from the nine groups was information value.
Jaeger and Burnett , p. Values are referenced in literature on values in sociotechnical systems design, online communities, and common ground in knowledge management. This literature and the potential implications of this study in these contexts are discussed below. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, Shilton, Koepfler, and Fleischmann have explored the roles played by values in the design of technologies and sociotechnical systems, taken from the approach of social informatics and other research traditions with a spin towards social welfare and social justice see Fleischmann, , for a broader review of this research area.
Shilton examined mobile sensing from a participatory perspective, focusing on how values are built into such systems. She found design practices that encouraged integrating social values as integral parts of the design. Values are articulated by design teams through the process of system development, becoming personal and an important factor as design becomes iterative in response to testing.
Designs were more successful due to the influence of values; external values, such as feedback from users, did not play as successful a role. While most of the users from the five LibraryThing and four Goodreads groups in this dissertation study did not engage in "design" as such, in the cases where they collaborated together—often led by a moderator or boundary spanner—coherent or convergent values were present and helped activities take place without major issues.
Fleischmann b has suggested digital libraries should have embedded social values, and applied a framework of "boundary objects with agency" to digital libraries, drawing on social worlds, boundary objects, and nonhuman agency the latter as used in actor-network theory; pp. This framework has similarities to that used in this study, but does not include the same range of ways of looking at coherence and convergence and instead focuses on information and social values as is, of course, necessary for his value-sensitive view , with the addition of the concept of nonhuman agency.
Fleischmann argued that this framework "can be a useful concept for understanding the connection between values and other forms of IT, including digital libraries" p. Shilton, Koepfler, and Fleischmann introduced another framework for studying "where and how values are negotiated and enacted by people, institutions, and technology" in sociotechnical systems p.
The framework allows for classification of the source and attributes of values identified through research and analysis. They applied the framework to three case studies—one from each author—where similar values to those emerging from this dissertation can be seen.
Nevertheless, some values identified by Koepfler and Fleischmann fell beyond the scope of information value, especially if the latter is interpreted on the narrower side. Their findings stress the importance of context in determining values and the frequency with which values are expressed, true in this dissertation study.
If the framework included here, including the theory of information worlds, was used with that of Shilton et al. With or without these frameworks, further research into the nature and scope of information values in and their impact on the roles played by digital libraries and other sociotechnical systems would extend the findings of this current study and of related literature in the values in design and value-sensitive design communities.
The values and design literature has strong implications for the future of social informatics research, including the issue of scale Fleischmann, The multi-leveled theoretical framework used in this dissertation study, or parts of it, might be useful in furthering these implications from another perspective.
Of the literature reviewed in Chapter 2 , Kraut, Wang, Butler, Joyce, and Burke focused their view of virtual community on "common or complimentary interests" and advice; these are not direct substitutes for the concept of values, but have a strong relationship. What one is interested in is assumed to be of value, and asking for advice implies that one will value an informative response. Here, interests are similar to needs as with Kraut et al.
A goal could be considered related, since having an end result in mind implies that result is valued. While a thorough review of all studies that studied value in online communities is a bit beyond scope, studies with a high degree of comparability in the community studied and in the research methods and approach taken are worth consideration.
Seraj is an example that, while from the marketing field, has such a high degree of comparability; she employed qualitative analysis of messages and interviews with users to understand how value is created in the Airliners. Seraj used a definition of value from Zeithami , as cited in Seraj, , p. Kraut et al.
That coherence and convergence of information values were not always visible to users of the five LibraryThing and four Goodreads groups is somewhat similar to other concepts interest, goal, need, activity that might be raised first; in this study information behavior and activities were significant among users who completed the survey, and many users mentioned interests in the messages and interviews. While Seraj and I differed in our analysis of social types and roles, the prevalence of social value in the Airliners.
Both studies illustrate a socially co-constructed community or more than one, in this dissertation where users shape and are mutually shaped by the social organization c. Seraj calls for longitudinal studies of communities at different stages in their development, which would be a natural progression for studies of information value. Different authors drawing on this perspective have used different combinations of those elements; some focused on culture and norms e.
Ardichvili et al. Shared values, conformity, and reciprocity are common motivators for knowledge sharing Ardichvili, ; users are more likely to share what they know with others, and help create and share distributed knowledge Haythornthwaite, , if they have a shared sense of what information is important and of value.
In this study, convergence of values did seem to lead to users from the nine groups sharing more information with others via LibraryThing and Goodreads, as boundary objects, but there were differences in value indicating moderate levels of convergence; these did not discourage such sharing. The knowledge management literature does not—in most cases—distinguish between coherence and convergence, but it is likely that the levels of convergence present here, despite differences, are sufficient to be considered shared values for the purposes of establishing common ground.
The bridging of values and norms by translating knowledge between contexts leads to greater levels of knowledge sharing, based on the knowledge management literature Ardichvili et al. In this study, translation helped users from the nine groups address information needs, explain circumstances that could reduce coherence or convergence, and get to know other members of the community.
The latter two cases include elements of value. Explaining of circumstances involves bridging the already cohered or converged norms with potential disruptions to them. In the cases where this was observed or discussed, the translation process was successful and the community did not end up in conflict; it may be that the degree of knowledge sharing stayed the same, but the finding is similar to those of Ardichvili et al.
Getting to know other members is a process of forming and maintaining social ties within a community or across multiple communities; in a way, the "happy" Lindsey "family" Rachelle of "real friendship" Melissa and "real community" Ann sensed by some interviewees, resulting from this process, is similar to common ground, if less rooted in values than other findings. Translation and boundary spanning activities did seem to encourage more interaction, information behavior and activities, and knowledge sharing, so in most cases the findings from the knowledge management literature and from this study mesh.
Olson and Olson were coming from the computer-supported cooperative work CSCW perspective, but borrowed the idea of common ground and considered the relative difficulty of establishing it, through translation, when not collocated i. Most of their research included an audio or video link, which is missing for users of LibraryThing and Goodreads unless they use an external site and technology.
Olson and Olson mention the importance of having a sense of awareness of where the other people in an interaction are coming from, their example being having had a difficult, stressful meeting. In the present study, this speaks to the high value some users from the nine groups placed on sharing and reading information about the everyday lives of community members and to the social network-based role played by LibraryThing and Goodreads in those cases.
Those who have already established sufficient common ground, Olson and Olson reported, can communicate with success over almost any media; in this study, those who have met face-to-face did seem to have converged that much more—including their information values—although this was not a big enough sample to prove true correlation, to say nothing of causality.
Facilitating collocation or so-called "richer" communication e. It may lead to greater coherence and convergence of shared values and other phenomena, given sufficient time and frequency of interaction. However, this is not a practical recommendation for most users, and other contextual factors—as discussed earlier in this subsection—could make greater contributions to the formation of common ground. For digital libraries and other ICTs that serve those who can be collocated or communicate through video, the findings of Olson and Olson and the current study indicate it may help in selected but not all or even most contexts with translation and negotiation processes that lead to coherence and eventual convergence, and strengthen the role the digital library or ICT has as a boundary object.
Taken together, the findings from this study and literature on common ground imply shared values, and translation of said values, are important in cohering and converging communities around ICTs intended for the sharing of information and knowledge. The knowledge management literature does not make clear distinctions, in most cases, between the different phenomena that enter into views of common ground, nor distinguish—as black-and-white or on a continuum—between coherence and convergence.
Whether further research on values, information and knowledge sharing, and community convergence is approached from the knowledge management perspective, the information science and social informatics perspective, or another perspective, it should be sure to consider various degrees and levels of information, knowledge, and value sharing. The roles played by LibraryThing and Goodreads, as boundary objects, were the main focus of this study, but boundary spanning individuals and activities were identified in the process.
The literature on boundary objects and boundary spanning is deep, and further development and use of boundary object theory and the concept of boundary spanners is proceeding and sometimes overlapping see e. The current study fits better with the boundary objects literature, given its focus, but also has potential implications in boundary spanning. Hara and Fichman reviewed the recent literature on boundaries, boundary objects, and boundary spanning, with an eye to the types of boundaries found.