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An Old-fashioned Reason to Attend AMCIS in Chicago

Thursday, June 13, 2013  
Allen S. Lee, AMCIS 2013 Conference Co-chair  

Why attend AMCIS in Chicago?  Why attend any IS conference?  Well, there’s an old-fashioned reason to attend that I seem to have forgotten: The paper presentations give me a startlingly efficient way to learn about things outside of my own research specialties.  And I don’t even have to read anything.  All I have to do is just go to a session, sit back, and listen.  

For starters, I’m no expert in Systems Analysis and Design, but the SAD track will have a paper presented by the entertaining and always provocative Steve Alter of the University of San Francisco:  

Title: Incorporating More System-Related Knowledge into Systems Analysis and Design  

Abstract: This paper introduces a new, intuitively straightforward approach for thinking about important aspects of systems that are being analyzed, designed, and constructed. Building on past research highlighting metaphors related to organizations, IS, and projects, it shows how considering common, broadly applicable types of subsystems (not standard IS categories such as MIS and DSS) might provide direction, insight, and useful methods for analysis and design practitioners and researchers. A conceptual model identifies eight types of subsystems that are relevant to most systems in organizations. For each subsystem type, this paper identifies relevant metaphors, concepts, theories, methodologies, success criteria, design tradeoffs, and open-ended questions that could augment current analysis and design practice.  

Steve’s ideas sound so useful that reviewers might rebel if I end up using his ideas in my research, but I have faith that my students would quickly grasp their value and common-sense practicality.  

Next, although I have always intended to actually do pro-environmental things, at least I can assuage my guilt by learning more about the green movement.  The Green IS and Sustainability track will include this paper by Johannes Schmidt and Sebastian Busse, both of Georg-August-Universität Göttingen:  

Title: The Value of IS to Ensure the Security of Energy Supply - The Case of Electric Vehicle Charging 

Abstract: Replacing the internal combustion engine through electrification is regarded as crucial for future mobility. However, the interactions between a higher number of electric vehicles and the impacts on power plant capacities have not been sufficiently investigated yet. Hence, this paper develops an approach to evaluate the energetic impacts on current power plant capacities that result from a higher market penetration of electric vehicles by 2030. The key aspect of the approach is the quantification of smart charging processes in energetic and economic perspectives. It was found that the implementation has significant energetic and thus economic benefits because of an improved integration of the additional electricity demand. The value of information systems which enable smart charging processes is shown by the calculated cost-saving potentials, resulting from a reduced expansion of the power plant system.  

Imagine that – a clear and concrete demonstration that technology, much less green technology, has significant economic benefits!              

From the ICTs in Global Development track, there will be a paper whose three co-authors, Rajiv D. Banker, Kartik K. Ganju, and Paul A, Pavlou, all happen to reign from what everyone recognizes today as one of the world’s top institutions for IS research, the Fox School of Business at Temple University:  

Title: Can Information and Communication Technology Lead to Well-Being? An Empirical Analysis  

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the effect that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can have on the well being of nations. This is important for two reasons. First, in the economics literature, a number of studies have focused on well-being rather than measures of Gross Development Product (GDP) as a measure of how satisfied people are with their lives. Additionally, due to effects that IT and communication can have and that are not directly related to productivity, investments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) should have an impact on the well-being of the country independent of the productivity of the nation. We show that a push by governments to encourage the uptake of ICT within an economy can lead to an increase of the ease with which ICT services can be adopted which can further lead to an increase in the well-being for the citizens of a country.    

For me, not being an expert in economics (or in so may other things), it will be great to sit in a session just to learn about the distinction between "productivity” and "well being” and about how ICTs’ impacts on well being are as important, if not more important, than on productivity.  Who knew?  

From the Intelligence and Intelligent Systems track, I’ll have the opportunity to learn (just by sitting in the session) about the inner workings of recommender systems.  I’ve always been a proponent of design research, and this paper sounds like it also has lessons I can learn about design.  I’ll be learning from Jingjing Li of the University of Colorado at Boulder when she presents her paper:  

Title: Combining Algorithms and User Experience: A Hybrid Personalized Movie Recommender Based on Perceived Similarity  

Abstract: Recommender systems, which filter information based on individual interests, represent a possible remedy for information overload. There are two major types of recommendation techniques—collaborative filtering and content-based. Although the content-based approach alleviates the "cold-start” problem faced by collaborative filtering, this approach generally produces lower accuracy. Thus, a hybrid strategy is often adopted. However, we identified that existing approaches are hampered by insufficient analysis of the unstructured content features of recommended products and a problematic assumption that ignores individual differences in the perception of similarity. Therefore, we propose a new recommendation framework that applies Latent Semantic Analysis to extract semantic features from unstructured text and uses Multiple Regression to identify a unique similarity weighting strategy for each user. By using a combined dataset from MovieLens and Microsoft Xbox, we developed a movie recommender as a proof-of-concept. The initial results represented a promising opportunity to combine behavioral studies and computer algorithms.  

My own research is more likely to use hermeneutics to interpret narrative than, as Jingjing Li puts it, to apply "Latent Semantic Analysis to extract semantic features from unstructured text” – but this is exactly the reason that I’m sure I’ll be learning something new by attending her session.              

In the next newsletter, I’ll highlight more papers, but the point has been made: Attending AMCIS in Chicago will be rewarding not just because it’s in Chicago, but because the very easy effort of simply attending sessions with such a breadth and depth of papers can appreciably broaden and deepen my own self as a scholar.  And unlike at other conferences, it is very easy to approach the presenters at AMCIS, whether at the end of their sessions or later at the conference, and actually talk to them and become colleagues with them!

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