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A Contextual Primer on the Socio-technical aspects of ICT in War and Peace Support . Ben du Toit Defence Analyst Defence Institute Armscor Business. Presented at the IFIP Workshop at the CSIR on 24 July 2008. CENTRAL ARGUMENT OF PAPER SUBMITTED: CONTEXT IS IMPORTANT IN ICT .

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slide1

A Contextual Primer

on the

Socio-technical aspects of ICT

in

War and Peace Support

Ben du Toit

Defence Analyst

Defence Institute

Armscor Business

Presented at the IFIP Workshop at the CSIR on 24 July 2008

slide2

CENTRAL ARGUMENT OF PAPER SUBMITTED:

CONTEXT IS IMPORTANT IN ICT

A text without a context is a pretext!

(Photo credit: Die Burger

FCD Cape Town 61111/A)

slide3

SCOPE AND LINE OF ARGUMENT

Contents of paper submitted:

Dualistic nature of military decision-making

Content versus context: the real digital divide is cultural

IT acceptance and cultural differences

Why a socio-technical systems approach to complex

decision-making

Implications/applications of ICT in conflict resolution

Enter social informatics

Conclusions from the literature

Own conclusions

Presentation broadly corresponds – however open-ended research

slide4

CONCEPTS BOUNDARIES

Primer = “…an introductory text, that covers the

basic elements of a subject”

Certain generalizations followed in argument….

Data = raw data, from sensors

Information = data in context

Knowledge = actionable information

Information

Used interchangeably as

those mentifacts giving

guidance

Culture

Context

Sense-making

Viewpoint/”Weltanschaaung”

Culture is the “collective programming of the mind that distinguishes members

of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede. 2001).

slide6

THE DUALISM OF MILITARY DECISION-MAKING

“TRADITIONAL” WARFARE

PSO/LIC/COMPLEX EMERGENCIES

Inter-state

Intra-state

Soldier as “Machine Commander”

Content-rich dataflow and processing

Soldier as “Social Scientist”

Context-rich communication

OPEN SYSTEM

CLOSE SYSTEM

Symmetric

Force-on Force

Asymmetric

ICT

“Network

Centric”

“Architecting”

Rebel, belligerent,

Non-linear

VUCA

Platform versus platform

MECHANISTIC

HUMAN CENTERED

Sensor-decider-shooter loop

Kinetic effects

Aiming for “shooting solution”

Understanding- sense-making-deciding

acting for preferably non-kinetic effects

Non-military coalition partners

slide8

POWER OF INFORMATION

Power of information is contextual.

Derives from usefulness (or uselessness) for

sense-making/decision-making.

User must trust ICT as supporting him/her.

Context/culture/making-sense dictate acceptance

of ICT.

( K A Taipale, 2006)

slide10

Donning a blue helmet does not

automatically imply an egalitarian culture or interoperability

CONTEXTUAL/CULTURAL FILTERING UP TO COMMANDER

Commander

Command and control

for kinetic effects

Interaction/ICT4Peace

Contextual filter for collaborative sense-making

Units

NGOs

CIMIC

Protection of ICT

assets/security

Sharing of ICT

Contextual filter for collaborative

sense-making

Civilians

Sub-units

Contextual filter

for collaborative

sense-making

Sensors & Weapon

systems mix

Individuals

data –information-data-information-data-information

“Three-block-war”

Warfighting

PSO

slide11

INFORMATION

INFORMATION GRID

CONTROL

I

N

T

E

G

R

A

T

E

D

B

M

S

SENSOR

Command

And

control

CONTROL

SENSOR GRID

SHOOTER

INFORMATION

ENGAGEMENT GRID

UN, AU, Coalition partners, NGOs, PVOs, Media, Civilians, Host nation, etc

Parallel effects-based operations

Adapted from Fred Stein - DODCCRP

slide12

THE ROLE OF ICT IN EFFECTS-BASED OPERATIONS

PEACE SUPPORT OPERATIONS DESIRED EFFECTS

slide13

SYSTEM DEVELOPERS BEAR IN MIND…

It can be argued that a uniform ICT protocol, as instructed

by the UN, may alleviate cultural differences in ICT usage.

Common ICT use however, does not imply cultural

understanding per se. Cf.“The big two”.

It is a myth to think that technology is neutral regarding

the system of values that it represents.

Society shapes ICT development rather than merely adapting to

autonomous technology. The COTS dilemma.

Only when ICT that is developed externally is accepted

by a community of interest as a value-adding artifact, can

the maximum benefit be obtained from it. Ethnocomputing?

slide14

ISSUES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS WHICH ARISE FROM C2 SCENARIOS

IN US C2 ENVIRONMENT

“How can we develop an understanding of the effect of

culture on co-operation, coalition operations and interoperability

of personnel (the human agents) and the IT infrastructure that

they share?

How can we model this within a command and control system?

How can we develop a guide for the (American military)

to incorporate cross-cultural perspectives within ICT

development?”

(As quoted by Jill Slay in ICCRTS 2002 – A cultural Framework for the Interoperability of C2 systems)

slide15

Content versus context:

the real digital divide is cultural

slide16

HIGH-CONTENT LOW-CONTEXT ICT

Edward Hall’s typology–high-content, low–context cultures or vice versa.

High content information more mechanistic in nature, can lead to

contextual errors. ( USS Vincennes incident where high volume of

content rich data, viewed within wrong “scenario-fulfillment context”

led to shooting down of Iranian civilian airliner.)

Most modern Western countries – preference for textual, high content

but low context information transfer. Spreadsheets and processes.

Many developing nations, some Arabic cultures, indigenous people

in Africa and many Asian countries prefer more direct modes of

communication, with premium on non-verbal cues and engagement

of feelings in a communication relationship.

Even screen-displays can send unintentional non-verbal cues.

Sources: Hall (1976 and Ess(2006)

slide17

HOFSTEDE’S CULTURAL DIMENSIONS

Four value dimensions

Power distance:

High - power distance quotient accept hierarchy and distance.

Low - quotient considers that all people are equal, the ultimate democracy.

Would rebel against unrestrained authority.

Uncertainty Avoidance:

High - create formal rules and guide behaviours, seek structure. Want more

supporting data/information for decisions.

Low -avoidance accept more risk and change.

slide18

HOFSTEDE MODEL (continued)

Individualism versus collectivism:

Individualistic - Believe one is personally responsible for own

well-being. Meritocratic. Express individual viewpoint independently.

Collectivism - Family communal, clan and tribal underpinnings.

Masculinity – Femininity dimension:

Masculinity -Competitive, aggressive, men dominant position over women.

They are the decision-makers.

Femininity - Roles of men and women equal.

slide19

HOFSTEDE’S FOUR VALUE DIMENSIONS APPLIED TO

CANADIAN INVOLVEMENT INAFGHANISTAN

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE USE OF ICT IN JOINT C2,

IN INFORMATION OPERATIONS AND IN ACCEPTANCE OF ICT USAGE?

Source: Spencer, 2007 – Canadian Forces Leadership Institute, Canadian Defence Academy

slide21

ENTER MORE INITIATIVES BASED ON SAMEAPPROACH

“Social Informatics” ( late Bob Kling, circa 2000):

“Social Informatics refers to the interdisciplinary study of the

design, uses and consequences of ICTs that takes into account

their interaction with institutional and cultural contexts”

“ICT4Peace initiative “( 2004 and ongoing)

Follow participatory design principles; i.e. the socio-technical design.

Efforts must be based on user needs, with active involvement of workplace

practitioners in design, especially where local staff will be users.

“Context-aware Computing”

Emphasize the user’s environment , where they are, who they are with

and what they are doing, as important.

“Social Navigation”

“The process of using cues from other people to help you find information

and potentially to more fully understand what it is that you have found”

slide22

ALL THE INITIATIVES IMPLY A SOCIO-TECHNICAL APROACH

TO COMPLEX DECISION-MAKING

  • A socio-technical system consists of:
    • Hardware Mainframes, Workstations, peripherals, networks;
    • Software Operating systems, utilities, application programs;
    • Physical surroundings
    • Buildings can influence and embody social rules;
    • People Individuals, roles, individual sense-making (of importance in military environments);
    • People Groups, roles, culture, group sense-making;
    • Procedures Official, management models, reporting relationships (of importance in coalition type of operations, joint, integrated, inter-agency and multi-national);
    • Laws and regulations
    • Read military protocols and rules of engagement into this category;
    • Data and data structures
    • What and how much data, formats.
slide24

WHY ARE SO MANY MODERN RESEARCH INITIATIVES OPEN-ENDED?

Because two days after submitting a paper on a topic

that you think you are making inroads into and a contribution

to the community of interest, you discover the following……

slide28

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE LITERATURE

Internationally a strong movement that propagates an increased

awareness of the contextual implications of new ICTs can be discerned.

Common denominator is that the user’s culture ( professional, organizational

or national level) will determine how ICT must be developed and applied,

for maximum effect.

This has ramifications for C2, information exchange and interoperability.

Question for the “systems architects”:

“Is there a social scientist on your IPT?”

slide29

MY CONCLUSIONS DERIVED FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN SITUATION

African conflict patterns are predominantly human-centric.

They are characterized as “open systems” with numerous interactions

between the political, social, economic and environmental sub-systems.

The joint, inter-agency and multi-national concept of operations in itself

is an attempt to address issues such as decision-making holistically.

Developers of C2 systems in and for the African theatres of operation,

must a priori take cognizance of the importance of contextual issues.

Benchmarking research on social informatics may provide a guiding

roadmap.

A community of interest, vested in the envisaged Defence Evaluation and

Research Institute (DERI) may help to ensure a multi-and interdisciplinary

approach in the development of ICT architecture.

slide30

Questions?

or even better….

Comments?

A list of sourced documents and references is contained in the paper or can be obtained from the presenter

Bendt@sadi.co.za

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this presentation are those of the compiler and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Armscor, the Department of Defence or any of their Services or Divisions.