Human, IT environment, emergence, failure in systems, information security, education, perspectives, interaction, stakeholders


In this paper, the reflection will be on different perspectives of humans living in an Information technology (IT) environment. The paper is based on work done by the researcher over many years in IT-related fields; looking back, seeing what is current and looking forward. Rapid change and emergence, complexity of systems, failed and challenged information systems, information and computer (in)security, lack of awareness and training (inter alia), all have an impact on being human in an IT environment. The problem statement that will be investigated is: "There is a lack of coherent knowledge of what is impacting the human living in the IT environment”. Humans manage their situation within the IT environment in silos and from their own perspectives. This topic is also being studied and addressed in a somewhat narrow, one-sided way, namely from own contexts. Rapid change within IT systems/software and platforms is not adequately adopted and incorporated by humans to understand how new/adapted systems operate and how to interact securely with these changes. There is thus a need is to ascertain what aspects have an influence on being human in the IT world in order to understand it and interact with it in a safe, holistic manner. The research methodology will be a critical systems thinking approach, where holism and emergence are of importance. The method applied will be a critical reflection of the aspects impacting the human living in the IT environment from different perspectives. Kant asked the three questions about reason: “What can I know?” “What must I do?” and “What may I hope?” These questions will lead this reflective paper, considering different perspectives when addressing the problem statement. The “what can I know” question will focus on several IT-related issues, such as information systems failures and challenges and the possible reasons of this, information security awareness, educational efforts to improve knowledge and skills when interacting with (using and developing) IT systems, and how to understand and incorporate the emergence and rapid change in the IT environment. The “what must I do” question will concentrate on the human’s role, e.g., as researcher, subject chair, software developer, engaging in professional societies etc. The “what may I hope” question will focus on how to bring about a better future for humans to cope with and to be living in the IT environment, based on insights and actions (know and do). This is the rationale of this paper – to reflect on how humans can be empowered (involved and affected) to live, work and flourish in the IT environment with all these challenges.

Author Biography

Lynette Drevin, North-West University

Lynette Drevin is a professor in Potchefstroom at the North-West University (NWU), South-Africa in the School for Computer Science and Information Systems. She has taught many courses since 1985 including Systems Analysis and Design, Project Management and Information Security. She obtained a PhD in Computer Science in 2014 from Middlesex University, London, UK. The title of her thesis is: Making sense of information systems failures. Her research interests are Information Security awareness and education, IT and human issues and Information Systems failures. She has also worked on SoTL projects (Scholarship of teaching and learning) e.g. work integrated learning and self-directed learning.

Lynette has been involved in WISE (World Information Security Education IFIP WG11.8) Conference since its foundation in 1999 in Sweden. She has been acting as the program chair of WISE for a few consecutive years and is part of the editorial team of the Springer IFIP AICT proceedings.

She is currently the subject chair of the School for CS & IS and was research subprogram leader of Computer Science and Information Systems – NWU Potchefstroom campus for 6 years.