Abstract - The Information Society 3 (1)

Value Conflicts in Public-Oriented Computing Developments

Rob Kling

This paper examines value conflicts engendered by computing developments in 2 different institutional settings: electronic funds transfer systems (EFTS) and instructional computing in primary and secondary schools. Different values are most critical in each setting and are explicitly identified. In each case, laissez-faire technical deployment supports one set of values rather than others and hence is not neutral. In both banking and schooling, laissez-faire computing developments do not support the interests of socially weak groups. Explicit public interventions are required to provide equitable instructional access or to protect personal privacy and consumer sovereignty. These 2 cases can serve as points of departure for examining the value conflicts which generally accompany different modes of computerization in other institutional arenas.

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