Creating a context of trust with ICTs: Restoring a sense of normalcy in the environment

Bryan Semaan, Gloria Mark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

18 Scopus citations


This paper reports on an ethnographic study of the technology-enabled behavior that took place amongst a citizen population living in a conflict zone. We interviewed 65 Iraqi citizens who experienced the current Gulf War beginning in March 2003. In the context of a disrupted environment, trust in people and institutions can erode. We find that trust is contextual-as aspects of the physical world change, conceptions of trust can also change. We show how people were able to create a context of trust in the environment by using ICTs to manage their public identity, to conduct background checks, and to develop collaborative practices that relied on those with whom interpersonal trust previously existed. These new practices, in turn, enabled people to maintain work collaborations, to determine whether or not to continue interacting with others in public, to be able to travel safely, and to find trustworthy jobs. In developing these new practices we argue that technology enabled people to restore a sense of normalcy in an environment that had radically changed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM 2011 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW 2011
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450305563
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventACM 2011 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW 2011 - Hangzhou, China
Duration: Mar 19 2011Mar 23 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW


OtherACM 2011 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW 2011


  • Collaboration
  • Context
  • Disrupted environments
  • Empirical study
  • Normalcy
  • Resilience
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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