Fall 2017 — Week 06 Process Journal
This paper highlights several key issues with identifying and gathering the right requirements for information systems identified by the authors through exhaustive research of other papers. Besides being inherently critical, requirements gathering depends on many factors that may not accurately depict a true image of the organizational needs, wants, and issues to be solved. The authors classify the issues found in the following categories:
- Human aspects of resource elicitation that preclude simple communication between consultant and client
- The language of humans is not always suitable for technological solution
- Requirements change as the project proceeds
- Clients will sometimes ask for requirements that the organization does not need
- The client cannot say what the business needs
- Some clients do not want to help you with the project
- RE failed because it was not done properly
- Symptoms that are not problems are often reported
- Requirements elicitation is not deterministic
The recurring themes of these relate to human behaviors, derived partly from the difference in their background, and in certain occurrences their incentives (personal interests, strategies, biases, etc).
In this paper, Winner challenges the assumptions that politics are separate from artifacts by elaborating on the context of the artifacts themselves: Artifacts are envisioned, created, and embedded within a societal context and technology shapes the society it is embedded in. These factors lead to a first categorization: Certain types of technology depend on and promote a totalitarian context, while others depend on, and promote a democratic context.
The second big categorization that Winner covers is:
- Technology that settles issues: Such as the tomato harvesting machine, which was not specifically designed to take jobs from humans, but to increase the throughput of the tomato harvest, or solar energy, where it allows individuals to generate their own energy regardless of others.
- Inherently political technology: A ship, railroad, or nuclear energy — they both depend on rigid structures that dictate who is in command, and who should follow the chain of command. In the case of the atom bomb, the very creation of them might not have as its goal their use, but a symbolic capability that should deter enemies from attacking the creator.
- As technology scales (and reaches a worldwide audience), will it always become more authoritarian?
- Platforms need to adhere to the local regulations/laws of the countries they operate in — how does this impact their policies and/or objectives?
In this episode, a China correspondent explains how WeChat is a technology platform that is used heavily in China. WeChat’s architecture allows many companies to create their apps or plugins and easily connect with WeChat, creating a way to easily connect to a huge number of users. One basic assumption is that the user profiles are visible by the organizations that own the apps/plugins. Comparatively, there’s nothing like that in the US because of the way organizations are more interested in building their silos (such as Facebook, or Google).