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A wiki for social workers in a local health authority: An actor-network analysis and seed design

Number: 35
Year: 2010
Author(s): Marisa Ponti, Stefano Renzi, Jane Klobas
Keywords: wiki,social workers,health sector,actor-network theory,Italy,seed design
We use actor-network theory (ANT) to understand how social workers in a large Italian local health authority might interact with a wiki space to share resources, inform practice, and maintain their professional identity. At the time of study, the wiki was proposed as a replacement technology for an existing structured knowledge management system (KMS). We introduce the case organization, the social workers and the problem and then describe the key concepts of ANT and how they can be used to guide socio-technical analysis of the potential for a proposed new information technology. ANT was applied in two ways. Firstly, we analyzed how the social workers' existing KMS came about, using the processes of translation as defined in ANT to reconstruct the events leading to that choice and the subsequent idea of replacing the KMS with a wiki. We then used a due process model and drew the actor-network in order to consider the wiki as a potential replacement for the existing KMS. As part of this process, we present the design of a seed structure and participation process for a wiki that would both maintain the value of KMS work done to date and meet additional needs for informal learning and maintenance of professional identity among the social workers. The successful adoption and sustainability of the wiki will depend on strengthening its association with the other stakeholders participating in the project.

Marisa Ponti

Gothenberg University, Swedish School of Library and Information Science and University of Boras


Stefano Renzi

University Bocconi, Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics


Jane Klobas

University Bocconi, Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and University of Western Australia



Keywords: wiki, social workers, health sector, actor-network theory, Italy, seed design


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