Evolution as metaphor: A critical review of the use of evolutionary concepts in information systems and e-commerce.

Date

2010-09

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

1571-0270

Volume Title

Publisher

Springer

Type

Book chapter

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Abstract:Many aspects of information systems can be described in terms of evolution. Technologies as well as markets and business models evolve by selection of the best and elimination of weaker ones. This chapter argues that the use of such Darwinian concepts can often better be understood as a metaphorical use of language rather than an exact and scientific description of reality. Metaphors, however, are not value-free tools of observation but carry with them assumptions and views of the world. They can therefore be used to promote particular interests and limit critical scrutiny and discourses. This chapter will concentrate on the question of ethics to make the case that speaking of information systems in terms of evolution can limit discourses. By describing information systems through the use of biological metaphors such as evolution, alternative discourses focusing on human agency and freedom can be ignored. This negates the possibility of ethical intervention and thereby strengthens the interests of the established players and power holders.

Description

Keywords

information systems, metaphor, evolution

Citation

Stahl, Bernd Carsten (2010) Evolution as metaphor: A critical review of the use of evolutionary concepts in information systems and e-commerce. In: Kock, Ned (ed.) Evolutionary Psychology and Information Systems Research: A New Approach to studying the Effects of Modern Technologies on Human Behavior. New York: Springer, pp.357 - 375

Rights

Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)