CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work


Paper Report

Title: Understanding Practice : Video as a Medium for Reflection and Design
Authors: Lucy A. Suchman and Randall H. Trigg
Citation: Design at Work : Cooperative Design of Computer Systems
Reprinted in: Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work by Ronald M. Baecker


This paper highlights the relationship between Work and Technology. Work and Technology go hand in hand. It is necessary for the users to have a say in the design of technology. Available technologies afford certain resources and constraints on how the work gets done, and the users work strategies and their work environments shape the way the technology is made to assist the users in their work. The research goal is to understand the relationship between work and technology and to understand how the relationship develops through the development phase of this work setting. This paper presents a special example of the complex sheet that was used in airports. With each incoming flight the complex sheet had to be modified. If technology has to be developed then it is necessary for the technology to shape itself according to the requirements of the work setting. To understand the exact nature of work setting, it is necessary to observe interaction of the user and the technology. If one particular person is given the video he or she might look at the video in his or her own perspective. To broaden this perspective, a lot of other people should also be invited to watch and give comments about what they see in the video. In one of the examples cited in this paper, participants were invited to watch a video of student physicians. They were allowed to stop the video whenever they wanted and gave their comments whenever they found something interesting. This would provide a broader perspective about the observations made on the video. Towards the end of the paper major emphasis is laid on the interrelationship between research, design and practice. These three fields need to be interwoven to make technology adapt itself to the changing needs of any particular work environment.
Report prepared by: Shiva Bhanujan, Email: shivab@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 02/05/1997            Report date: 02/06/1997