Volume 6

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HTML Tags as Extraction Cues for
Web Page Description Construction

Timothy C. Craven
The University of Western Ontario, Canada

Keywords: HTML; extracting; metadata; summarization; computer software; World Wide Web


Introduction to the Special Series of Papers on Informing Each Other: Bridging the Gap between Researcher and Practitioners

Brian Fitzgerald
University of Limerick, Ireland

As an applied discipline, the gap between IS theory and practice is a potentially worrying one. This special series focuses on this gap, and the papers published consider the problems in some detail and how they might be addressed from a high level view and also in the context of specific initiatives which have been undertaken successfully. The issue is framed by this paper which considers the bipolar gap between theory and practice, a futile scenario in which both poles are ultimately cold.
Keywords: Information Systems, Information Science, Theory and Practice, Relevance and Rigour


Communicating Academic Research Findings to IS Professionals: An Analysis of Problems

Michael Lang
National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

Because research findings often do not have direct or immediate relevance to IS professionals in industry, the question arises as to how those findings should be disseminated to them in a suitable form at such time as they do become relevant. A central argument of this paper is that the traditional mechanisms whereby academic researchers disseminate their work are prone to numerous communication breakdowns, and that much work which could potentially make valuable contributions to practice is haplessly lost within the vaults of academia. Using the well-known Shannon & Weaver communication model, three major problems are analyzed: the choice of dissemination channels, language barriers, and the alienation of academia from industry.
Keywords: IS Research Relevance; Communication of IS Research


Using the World Wide Web to Connect Research and Professional Practice: Towards Evidence-Based Practice

Daniel L. Moody

Charles University
Prague, Czech Republic

Monash University
Melbourne, Australia

In most professional (applied) disciplines, research findings take a long time to filter into practice, if they ever do at all. The result of this is under-utilisation of research results and sub-optimal practices. There are a number of reasons for the lack of knowledge transfer. On the “demand side”, people working in professional practice have little time available to keep up with the latest research in their field. In addition, the volume of research published each year means that the average practitioner would not have time to read all the research articles in their area of interest even if they devoted all their time to it. From the “supply side”, academic research is primarily focused on the production rather than distribution of knowledge. While they have highly developed mechanisms for transferring knowledge among themselves, there is little investment in the distribution of research results be-yond research communities. The World Wide Web provides a potential solution to this problem, as it provides a global information infrastructure for connecting those who produce knowledge (researchers) and those who need to apply this knowledge (practitioners). This paper describes two projects which use the World Wide Web to make research results directly available to support decision making in the workplace. The first is a successful knowledge management project in a health department which provides medical staff with on-line access to the latest medical research at the point of care. The second is a project currently in progress to implement a similar system to support decision making in IS practice. Finally, we draw some general lessons about how to improve transfers of knowledge from research and practice, which could be applied in any discipline.
Keywords: knowledge management, evidence-based medicine (EBM), World Wide Web (WWW), IS re-search, IS practice, education, decision support system (DSS), web-based development


Regional IS Knowledge Networks: Elaborating the Theme of Relevance of IS Research

Mikael Söderström & Torbjörn Nordström
Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

  The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the theme of the relevance of IS research. Based on recent experiments and experiences in the borderland between research and practice and politics we suggest some additions to the discussion of the IS research relevance in Fitzgerald (2001). One addition concerns relevance to whom, where we suggest considering a regional relevance through cultivation of regional IS knowledge networks. Such networks comprise regional knowledge production in collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and results are made public and tested in other organizations in addition to the research sites. This is closely related to the view of knowledge and research put forward by American pragmatism. A second addition is to complement Fitzgerald’s suggestion to expose researchers to practice with the suggestion to expose practitioners to research. It is just as difficult to learn the ‘true nature’ of research from reading the executive summary in MIS Quarterly as it is to learn the ‘true nature’ of practice from a couple of interviews with practitioners. A regional IS knowledge network is an excellent opportunity for such double exposure.

Keywords: IS research relevance, Knowledge, Collaboration researchers-practitioners, Knowledge networks


Integrating Theory and Practice in Education with Business Games

Karen Neville & Frederic Adam
University College Cork, Ireland

   The meaningful integration of theoretical knowledge and industrial practice in Masters level programmes is now more than ever vital to ensure that graduates have the required competence in IT and that they are ready to contribute to the organisations that hired them within a short timeframe. It is also crucial in ensuring ongoing industrial support for academia because Information technology (IT) is regarded as a fundamental component in the success of organisations. This has led to a growing demand for IT specialists, sometimes with hybrid skills, to design, develop, implement, and support IT infrastures in both the public and private sectors. However, in recent years there has been a shortfall of IT graduates, with essential experience entering the job market. In order to keep up with demand, educational institutions must adopt innovative programmes to increase the skill-set and knowledge base of their IT graduates.

One such programme, under the auspices of University College Cork, is a Masters course in Management Information and Managerial Accounting Systems (MIMAS). The programme focuses on IT to suit the needs of industry while also combining IT with other theoretical subjects like managerial accounting and the design of management control systems. One key element of the teaching experience is a business simulation where students create software companies and bid for a large scale development project. As part of this, they experience of broad range of tasks and problems inherent in commercial software development. The business game is designed to encourage students to make use of as much of the theoretical elements taught in the degree as possible and is mediated by the teaching staff through the intermediary of a purpose-designed computer system. Our experience indicates the immense value of such practical components in an IT oriented degree programme. It also shows that the application of new technology in training and education will only truly benefit students when it is associated with high quality material and a high degree of student motivation.


Value Creation through IT-supported Knowledge Management? The Utilisation of a Knowledge Management System in a Global Consulting Company

Karlheinz Kautz & Volker Mahnke
Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark

Although many consulting companies have introduced IT-supported knowledge-management systems, and proponents of the literature continue to advocate knowledge management as a key to competitive advantage in consultancies, many knowledge management systems have fallen short of expectation in companies that have adopted them. However, empirical studies regarding the performance implications of these systems are missing. This paper reports such an empirical, explorative study identifying the extent as well as impediments of the utilization of an IT-supported knowledge management system in a large, global consulting company. The main findings are that the majority of the IT users are not familiar with the knowledge management framework of the company; still the knowledge management system is used by 3/4 of all respondents, but mainly to search for general information, much less to participate in competence networks to develop shared knowledge assets. The knowledge management system is not used as the primary repository and communication media for knowledge assets. The limited use is explained by the practitioners as being caused by lack of time and their perception of the system as a slow and poorly structured technical infrastructure. These and other findings are discussed with regard to the current understanding of knowledge management as presented by the literature, and important issues with regard to future research integrating individual, organisational, technical and economical perspectives of knowledge management are raised.

Keywords: knowledge management, adoption and utilisation, transaction costs, global consulting


Applications of Geographical Information Systems in
Understanding Spatial Distribution of Asthma

Mohammad A. Rob
University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, Texas, USA

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are becoming useful tools in making strategic decisions when-ever data are found to have spatial distribution. Federal, state, and local governments are using GIS for assessment and planning in such areas as housing, healthcare, land use, natural resources, environmental monitoring and transportation. Companies are also using it to expand and consolidate existing businesses, perform market analysis, and to find optimum delivery routes. In this paper, we illustrate the usefulness of GIS in the analysis and presentation of spatially distributed asthma prevalence among school children (13-17 years) in the New York City area. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first presentation of asthma survey results distributed over the zip codes of a large city. Preliminary results show good correlation between asthma and poverty. They also correlate well with the spatial distribution of asthma hospitalization data. Results reveal an overall asthma prevalence of ~ 16% as compared to the national average of ~12% for a similar age group (5-17 years). When comparing asthma rates among the predominant racial groups of the city – Blacks and Hispanics are found to have a higher prevalence than Whites or Asians. The inner-city population shows a significantly higher asthma prevalence than those in the suburbs. This study shows our understanding of asthma prevalence in a dimension that could not have been possible prior to the availability of GIS. The results will help us making further decisions in planning for asthma research.
Keywords: GIS, Geographical Information Systems, asthma


Introduction to the Special Series on Social Informatics

Eugene J. Rathswohl
University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

This special issue presents eight papers delivered originally at one of the two Informing Science conferences held in Krakow, Poland in 2001, and Cork, Ireland, in 2002. The eight papers cover several generic issues related to Community Informatics.


Foot and Mouth Disease: Informing the Community?

Briony J Oates
University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom

The 2001 foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in the UK had a significant impact on the economic and social well-being of rural communities. This paper examines the FMD pages of four local govern-ment websites in Northern England: Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and North Yorkshire County Councils. Each county was badly affected by FMD. The contents of the FMD webpages are analysed and compared: which audiences were addressed, what information was provided or omitted, and how well the audiences’ needs were met. The study shows the breadth of audience types and information that could have been included, but no site covered all the necessary angles. Furthermore, the websites did little to address the psychological problems arising from FMD or to enhance participation and democ-racy in their local communities. By examining how the councils informed those affected, lessons can be learnt which are relevant to any future disruption to a community.
Keywords: foot and mouth disease, websites, World Wide Web.


Navigation Assistance in Virtual Worlds

Betsy van Dijk
 Rieks op den Akker
Anton Nijholt
Job Zwiers
University of Twente, The Netherlands

In this paper we report about ongoing research on navigation assistance in virtual environments. Our aim is to contribute to the development of forms of navigation assistance that enable non-professional visitors of a virtual environment to find their way without previous training. The environment used in this re-search is a virtual theatre that models a real world music theatre. This virtual theatre can be used for exploration as well as for transactions and goal-directed search for information. We first present some de-sign principles for navigation assistance in virtual environments and some design criteria for assistance by personal agents. Subsequently we describe how these principles and criteria have been implemented in our experimental virtual theatre environment. Finally we give an overview of future research plans.
Keywords: Navigation assistance, Personal agents, Virtual environments


The Development of Consumer-Driven Human Services Information Technology Initiatives:
The Lake County Indiana Experience

Thomas W. Pavkov & Charles Winer
Purdue University Calumet, USA

The Family Access Project will deploy innovative community empowerment, education, consensus building, and information system development strategies to strengthen community, ensure the efficient and effective delivery of needed services, and address the unique needs of families requiring public assistance from a host of public and private agencies in Lake County. The goal of the project is to enhance community life through improved care coordination by linking new technologies to the human service delivery process. Upon completion, the project will assist in the enhancement of community-based services through the development of rules of data transaction and data standards and the deploy-ment of a secure messaging/document exchange network. By putting technology in the hands of consumers we also hope to impact the economic development and workforce readiness goals set forth in our community’s welfare to work programs. These innovations will require educational innovations in order to facilitate the use of technology by both provider and consumer end-users. Proposed innovations include tutorials related to data standards development, peer train-the-trainer training in the development and use of technology to support service system reforms; and ongoing support through a technical assistance clearinghouse and help desk.
Keywords: human services, social services, information technology


Human Services Information Technology:
A Shared System

Charles Winer & Thomas W. Pavkov
Purdue University Calumet, USA

From surveyed responses and evolving technologies, technical issues related to developing a secure county/regional based human services information systems solution are identified. Components of such a system are identified and discussed as to their viability to successfully design and implement shared data between government agencies and non-profit groups throughout Lake County and the State of Indiana. Some of these components are a common intake function, master client/family index to including client education, training and history components, a master provider index, case coordination/management sys-tem, and the use of E-forms to reduce traditional paper processing and encourage more efficient usage of data storage and retrieval technologies within a client-centric environment.
Keywords: client-centric, data warehouse, enterprise server, Virtual Private Network (VPN), middleware


Information and Communication Technology:
Gender Issues in Developing Nations

Kimberly Betz Leahy & Ira Yermish
St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

As Developing Nations seek to leverage scarce resources toward the goal of achieving a developed status they must reevaluate past practices and explore available and affordable technologies. Where in-formation and communication infrastructures are weak, use of low-cost, easily distributed technologies have proven effective. Still, many developing nations have failed to incorporate a resource in great abundance, their women, to use these new technologies to greatest advantage. This paper will address the implications of women’s lack of economic and educational parity, and offer examples of how the education of women through the use of information and communication technology can enhance a nation's gross domestic product (GDP).
Keywords: Developing Nations, IT Education, Gender Issues


Can E- Commerce Enable Marketing in an African Rural Women's Community Based Development Organization?

Jo Rhodes
Cape Town University, South Africa

It is suggested by various sources (Worldbank, 2000; Cypher, 1997) that investment in infrastructure and modern technologies such as ITC’s may break down some of the barriers of access such as physical remoteness for poor rural communities. However there is little existing research that examines this sce-nario at the micro level. This paper uses a case study- the Rural Women's Association (RWA) of Sek-huhkuneland, Northern Province, South Africa to examine if E- commerce can enable access to markets in an impoverished, under resourced rural location. This paper has five parts: Part 1 consists of the background and rationale for this study, Part 2 focuses on the education, business acumen and gender issues. Part 3 discusses the current market environment. Part 4 discusses possible business models that can integrate e-commerce in its implementation. Part 5 provides the research questions and the method-ology for this study. The final discussion in this study provides us with a viable e-commerce model that could be used in a rural setting and could provide greater economic development for this community.
Keywords: e-commerce, marketing, rural economic development, gender


The Importance of Addressing Accepted Training Needs When Designing Electronic Information Literacy Training

Nicole Fahey

The rise of the information revolution has led to information becoming a major producer of wealth. This revolution has increased the importance of being able to access and utilize information from a variety of sources, including information published electronically. The Skills.net program was designed to increase electronic- information literacy skills by providing "free or low cost access to training in online services and the Internet for those in the community who are least likely to have access." (Cavill & Miller, 1998) This study found that the Skills.net program did increase electronic information literacy. However the program did not adequately address the accepted training needs of its participants and therefore was not as successful as it could have been.
Keywords: Electronic-Information-Literacy, Electronic-Information-Poverty, Training needs, User-focused evaluation.


Information Literacy:
A Community Service-Learning Approach

Eugene J. Rathswohl
University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Business, academic, and government leaders have spoken out for professional education to integrate solid knowledge and skills with a spirit of volunteerism and community service (Briscoe, 1998; Hayes, 1997; Small/Venkatesh, 1998). This paper describes an example of how community service-learning has been applied in an information systems course required in a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
Keywords: information systems, teaching, community service-learning, information literacy


A Case Study of Physicians at Work at the University Hospital of Northern Norway

Gunnar Ellingsen
University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway

The knowledge management literature suggests that reuse of externalized knowledge is fundamental for improved efficiency, reduced costs and reduced dependency on individual know-how. Rather than considering knowledge as a specific thing the paper relates knowledge to the work people do. It suggest that knowledge management literature avoids to take into account how knowledge needs to be made credible, relevant and trustworthy in order to be used across time and across different contexts in large organizational contexts. The paper analyses how work is needed to render knowledge trusted through patient trajectories and how different contexts, people and situations shape the comprehension of trust associated with existing knowledge. Empirically, the paper draws on different medical contexts at the University Hospital of Northern Norway.
Keywords: trust, knowledge management, knowledge work, patient trajectory


Five Roles of an Information System: A Social Constructionist Approach to Analysing the Use of ERP Systems

Linda Askenäs & Alf Westelius
Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

This paper presents a novel way of thinking about how information systems are used in organisations. Traditionally, computerised information systems are viewed as objects. In contrast, by viewing the in-formation system as an actor, the understanding of the structuration process increases. The user, being influenced by the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and giving it an actor role, thereby also confers agency on the ERP system; through its very use it influences actions and thus also the structure. Based on a case study of ERP use in an ABB company over a decade, five different roles played by the ERP systems were identified. The ERP systems acted as Bureaucrat, Manipulator, Administrative assistant, Consultant or were dismissed (Dismissed) in the sense that intended users chose to avoid using them. These terms are defined in the full text.
The purpose of this approach here is not to “animate” the information systems, to give them life or a mind of their own, but rather to make explicit the socially constructed roles conferred on them by users and others who are affected by them. On this basis, it is possible to suggest how the roles can help us open up new areas of exploration concerning the fruitful use of IT.
Keywords: Interpreting information systems; Structuration theory; ERP systems; Information systems use; Actor; Social construction; Grounded theory; Case study; Longitudinal research


The Archaeologist Undeceived: Selecting Quality Archaeological Information from the Internet

Paul Sturges & Anne Griffin
Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

The amount of unreliable information and actual misinformation available via the Internet makes its use problematic for academic purposes, particularly for data-intensive disciplines such as archaeology. Whilst there are many sources for reviews of websites, few apply the type of criteria most appropriate to archaeology. Information and library professionals have developed sets of criteria that can be adapted for the evaluation of archaeological websites. An evaluative tool for archaeological websites, using al-ready-available criteria, was developed and tested on twenty archaeological web sites. It proved capable of allowing its user to make clear distinctions between sites on the basis of quality. Further refining of the evaluative tool is possible on the basis of testing by both archaeologists and information professionals.
Keywords: archaeology, evaluation, Internet, quality, web sites


Socio-Economic Factors Affecting Home Internet Usage Patterns in Central Queensland

Wal J. Taylor

 Grant X. Zhu

 John Dekkers

 Stewart Marshall

Central Queensland University , Rockhampton,  Qld  Australia

Governments and other policy makers are concerned with the gap in home Internet usage between people from metropolitan and rural areas. A survey conducted in Central Queensland, Australia examined differences in home Internet usage patterns between young and old, male and female, people in urban and rural areas, married and unmarried, well-educated and less educated, rich and poor, and employed and unemployed and found significant differences.
These results highlight areas for further research and provide a basis for government agencies and industries to consider these associations in future policy formulation for regional development using ICT. The research suggested that further research should be conducted to monitor consuming behaviors of the youngest age group in Internet use for entertainment and information search in order to detect possible Internet overuse or addiction. In addition, further research should be conducted to find out what people search for on the Internet, and if for employment opportunities, financial incentives are suggested for the unemployed people.
Keywords: Information and communication technologies; community informatics systems, demo-graphic and socio-economic factors, Internet usage patterns, Central Queensland, consumer ICT behaviors.


Role of Information Professionals in Knowledge Management Programs: Empirical Evidence from Canada

Isola Ajiferuke
University of Western Ontario, London, Canada

The implementation of a knowledge management program in an organization has the potential of im-proving customer services, quickly bringing new products to market, and reducing cost of business operations. Information technologies are often used in knowledge management programs in informing clients and employees of latest innovation/development in the business sector as well as sharing knowledge among the employees. The key professionals involved in knowledge management programs are information technologists and human resource managers but the information professionals also have a role to play as they are traditionally known as good managers of explicit knowledge. Hence, the aim of this study is to provide empirical evidence of the role of information professionals in knowledge management programs. 386 information professionals working in Canadian organizations were selected from the Special Libraries Association’s Who’s Who in Special Libraries 2001/2002, and a questionnaire with a stamped self-addressed envelope for its return was sent to each one of them. 63 questionnaires were completed and returned, and 8 in-depth interviews conducted. About 59% of the information professionals surveyed are working in organizations that have knowledge management programs with about 86% of these professionals being involved in the programs. Factors such as gender, age, and educational background (i.e. highest educational qualifications and discipline) did not seem to have any relationship with involvement in knowledge management programs. Many of those involved in the programs are playing key roles, such as the design of the information architecture, development of taxonomy, or con-tent management of the organization’s intranet. Others play lesser roles, such as providing information for the intranet, gathering competitive intelligence, or providing research services as requested by the knowledge management team.
Keywords: Knowledge management, information professionals, Canada, business organizations


Internal Data Market Services: An Ontology-Based Architecture and Its Evaluation

Fons Wijnhoven
University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

Edwin van den Belt
 Ordina Finance,

Eddy Verbruggen
Ordina Finance,

Paul van der Vet
University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

On information markets, many suppliers and buyers of information goods exchange values. Some of these goods are data, whose value is created in buyer interactions with data sources. These interactions are enabled by data market services (DMS). DMS give access to one or several data sources. The major problems with the creation of information value in these contexts are (1) the quality of information re-trievals and related queries, and (2) the complexity of matching information needs and supplies when different semantics are used by source systems and information buyers. This study reports about a proto-type DMS (called CIRBA), which employs an ontology-based information retrieval system to solve se-mantic problems for a DMS. The DMS quality is tested in an experiment to assess its quality from a user perspective against a traditional data warehouse (with SQL) solution. The CIRBA solution gave substan-tially higher user satisfaction than the data warehouse alternative.
Keywords: data market services, data warehouse, information retrieval, ontology