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Cloudy talks: Exploring accounts about cloud computing
Högskolan i Borås, Akademin för bibliotek, information, pedagogik och IT.
2017 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to discuss the character, purpose, and use of the language surrounding new technology, specifically cloud computing. The thesis is situated within library and information science. Its theoretical basis and argumentation builds upon notions articulated by Berger and Luckmann (1966), known as “the social construction of reality”, and upon conceptual metaphor theory developed by Lakoff and Johnson (2003). The thesis discusses the consequences of how cloud computing is explained and legitimised by various actors, such as cloud providers, computer scientists, IT professionals, business leaders, and strategic staff in organisations that had implemented cloud services. It builds on four articles that are based on diverse empirical materials and methods.

A starting point is that IT has been talked about as neutral and unobtrusive. Instead, the results of this thesis show that accounts about IT hide its complexity both regarding its implementation and use. Talk about computing as a utility from the 1950s and forward was surprisingly precise in predictions concerning future IT. However, rather than accepting such accounts as communicating clear insights, it can be argued that this use of language led to the legitimation and institutionalisation of certain normative ways to talk about IT. The utility metaphor could, therefore, be seen as a powerful persuasive device, guiding changes in policies and investments. In today’s promulgation of cloud technologies by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the four internet giants sometimes referred to as GAFA, it is possible to distinguish the extension of the utility metaphor into images of power, choice, and a transformed life, while complexity issues are considerably downplayed.

Societies, organisations, and individuals all over the world are now, more than ever before, connected to the internet through various cloud technologies. Scrutinised in the thesis are accounts about Google Apps for Education (GAFE), a suite of cloud-based apps increasingly introduced in schools in Sweden and all over the globe. These cloud services are described as free and able to fulfil various user needs. This persuasive promulgation, together with various rhetorical strategies in their privacy policies, disguises the circumstance that Google exploits user information for its own business purposes by creating algorithmic identities of users based on individual web behaviour. With customers’ utilisation, cloud providers such as Google can act powerfully from a distance. As they develop remote control through their widespread cloud technology, they can affect individuals, businesses, and society at large. In this and other ways, IT will continue to reshape communication, the way people relate to each other, and to themselves. 

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Borås: Högskolan i Borås, 2017. , s. 96
Serie
Skrifter från Valfrid, ISSN 1103-6990 ; 62
Nyckelord [en]
information management, cloud computing, cloud services, cloud technology, social constructionism, social construction of reality, conceptual metaphor theory, Google Apps for Education (GAFE), GAFA, algorithmic identities
Nationell ämneskategori
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap Kommunikationsvetenskap
Forskningsämne
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-11178ISBN: 9789198165326 (tryckt)ISBN: 9789198165333 (digital)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-11178DiVA, id: diva2:1050182
Disputation
2017-02-10, c203, Allégatan 1, Borås, 13:00
Tillgänglig från: 2017-01-12 Skapad: 2016-11-28 Senast uppdaterad: 2017-02-10Bibliografiskt granskad
Delarbeten
1. As a Utility – Metaphors of Information Technologies
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>As a Utility – Metaphors of Information Technologies
2016 (Engelska)Ingår i: Human IT, ISSN 1402-1501, E-ISSN 1402-151X, Vol. 13, nr 2, s. 47-80Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Building on conceptual metaphor theory, this article investigates and argues the importance of the utility metaphor in discussions shaping information technologies. The results reveal that the utility metaphor has been evoked in different shapes and forms continually since the late fifties relating, for example, to concepts such as Time-sharing, Computer networks, The computer grid, Utility computing, and – the contemporary metaphor – Cloud computing.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Borås: Högskolan i Borås, 2016
Nyckelord
Conceptual metaphor theory, cloud computing, perceptions, information technology, Social shaping of technology
Nationell ämneskategori
Annan data- och informationsvetenskap Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Forskningsämne
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap; Handel och IT
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-10679 (URN)
Externt samarbete:
Tillgänglig från: 2016-09-12 Skapad: 2016-09-12 Senast uppdaterad: 2018-01-10Bibliografiskt granskad
2. Pupils in the clouds: Implementation of Google Apps for Education
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Pupils in the clouds: Implementation of Google Apps for Education
2016 (Engelska)Ingår i: First Monday, ISSN 1396-0466, E-ISSN 1396-0466, Vol. 21, nr 4Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

The study focuses on the implications of affordances identified in Google Apps for Education (GAFE), by strategic staff within a Swedish school organisation, with responsibility for schools in around 30 municipalities. A complex picture emerged, where GAFE was perceived both as a neutral, well-functioning tool and as a means of educating in partly new ways. Furthermore, the study shows that GAFE, despite its characteristic of being a non-generative appliance, still can be used in creative ways. The implementation of cloud technology, such as GAFE, endorses a tunnel-vision affordance that downgrades more nuanced perceptions of the different technological, economical, and ethical aspects of the technology. Studying GAFE, different tensions of power emerge: Google vs. the school, IT professionals vs. teachers, management vs. teachers, teachers vs. pupils, Google vs. pupils.

Nyckelord
Google Apps for Education, affordance, tunnel-vision affordance, cloud computing, tethered appliances
Nationell ämneskategori
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Forskningsämne
Handel och IT; Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap; Lärarutbildning och pedagogisk yrkesverksamhet
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-10711 (URN)10.5210/fm.v21i4.6185 (DOI)
Projekt
PhD thesis
Tillgänglig från: 2016-09-16 Skapad: 2016-09-16 Senast uppdaterad: 2017-11-21Bibliografiskt granskad
3. Information We Collect: Surveillance and Privacy in the Implementation of Google Apps for Education
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Information We Collect: Surveillance and Privacy in the Implementation of Google Apps for Education
2016 (Engelska)Ingår i: European Educational Research Journal (online), ISSN 1474-9041, E-ISSN 1474-9041, Vol. 15, nr 6, s. 644-663Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to show how Google’s business model is concealed within Google Apps forEducation (GAFE) as well as how such a bundle is perceived within one educational organisation,consisting of approximately 30 schools. The study consists of two parts: 1) a rhetorical analysisof Google policy documents and 2) an interview study in a Swedish educational organisation.By making an implicit demarcation between the two concepts (your) ‘data’ and (collected)‘information’ Google can disguise the presence of a business model for online marketing and, atthe same time, simulate the practices and ethics of a free public service institution. This makesit problematic for Swedish schools to implement Google Apps for Education, bearing in mindGoogle’s surveillance practices for making profits on pupil’s algorithmic identities. From a frontend viewpoint of Google Apps for Education, the advantages of the services are evident to theusers, and emerge in the study, whereas back end strategies are relatively hidden.

Nyckelord
Cloud computing, algorithmic identities, Google Apps for Education (GAFE), privacy, surveillance economy
Nationell ämneskategori
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Forskningsämne
Handel och IT; Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap; Lärarutbildning och pedagogisk yrkesverksamhet
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-10709 (URN)10.1177/1474904116654917 (DOI)000387459500003 ()2-s2.0-84994078599 (Scopus ID)
Projekt
PhD thesis
Anmärkning

Published online before print June 27, 2016

Tillgänglig från: 2016-09-16 Skapad: 2016-09-16 Senast uppdaterad: 2017-11-21Bibliografiskt granskad
4. GAFA speaks: Metaphors in the promotion of cloud technology
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>GAFA speaks: Metaphors in the promotion of cloud technology
2017 (Engelska)Ingår i: Journal of Documentation, ISSN 0022-0418, E-ISSN 1758-7379, Vol. 73, nr 1Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Accepted
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The article explores persuasive rhetoric in the legitimization of cloud computing by critically scrutinizing metaphorical devices utilized by leaders of the cloud industry. This article introduces a critical approach to the promotion of cloud technology.

Design/methodology/approach: 13 video clips from YouTube.com were analysed, containing presentations and talks delivered by leaders of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – four of the most influential companies within the IT industry, sometimes referred to as GAFA. With the help of conceptual metaphor theory, often-repeated metaphors for cloud technologies reveal what properties were promoted and hidden.

Findings: GAFA mainly used the same persuasive metaphors to promote cloud computing’s positive aspects. Potentially negative or complex issues were mostly avoided. Implicitly, GAFA exerts power through the extensive dissemination of their metaphors and these are used in order to negotiate and overcome doubts about cloud computing and related technologies.

Originality/value: This is the first study aimed at understanding the persuasive rhetoric of GAFA, seen as a uniform object of study, in the legitimization of cloud computing.

Nyckelord
cloud providers, cloud technology, Conceptual metaphor theory, marketing rhetoric, GAFA
Nationell ämneskategori
Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Forskningsämne
Handel och IT; Biblioteks- och informationsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-10712 (URN)
Projekt
PhD thesis
Tillgänglig från: 2016-09-16 Skapad: 2016-09-16 Senast uppdaterad: 2017-11-21Bibliografiskt granskad

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