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Going Critical: Perspective and Proportion in the Epistemology of Rob Kling 1

By John Leslie King, Suzanne Iacono and Jonathan Grudin

Abstract

One foundational element of Rob Kling's body of research and writing is its critical perspective on the nature, role and dynamics of computerization. His main argument was that one should view as dubious any statements that are not grounded in empirical evidence or theoretical analysis, particularly when the implications appear to benefit those making the statements, such as vendors, the public press, and government officials. Rob's work was replete with successful instances of critical refutation, in which he challenged assumptions or statements about computerization and provided convincing alternative interpretations. Much of his work delivered powerful indictments against sloppy conjecture and hyperbolic statements that claimed either utopian or dystopian outcomes from computerization. At the same time, some of his own assessments of the implications of emerging technologies tended to be dismissive and marginalizing, revealing in his own thinking some of the weaknesses he relished in pointing 1 In deference to our close associations with Rob Kling over the years, we refer to him simply as Rob throughout this paper. We do not extend this familiarity to others. Authorship order is proportional to years with Rob. 1 out in others ' rhetoric and writing. This paper identifies intellectual traps inherent in critical perspectives that can catch even the most acute practitioners. The objective is to help elucidate and stabilize the epistemological foundations for Rob’s critical perspective on the role of computerization

Topics: critical perspective
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.188.2930
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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