Narrative Transformation: Designing Work Means by Telling Stories

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Narrative Transformation is a method for clarifying the purposes and functionality of IT work means in groups of designer-users with self-selected membership. This includes that interests are clarified and pursued. Narrative Transformation has been developed specifically for groups in which the members themselves are largely responsible for setting up their own work situation, organization and work means (e. g. associations of freelancers, communities of researchers). As part of the interest guided development process the participants identify things they have taken for granted; they explore if it is justified to take them as »matters of course«; if not, they develop more appropriate notions. The procedure of Narrative Transformation comprises diverse steps. Every participant individually writes episodes describing events that occurred to them, and that they think highlight important aspects of the work setting that is to be changed by IT means. Then the participants collectively »search« their episodes for »matters of course«. The »search criteria« are developed as part of this process. The participants explore how appropriate the assumptions in the episodes are and develop new, more appropriate notions, if necessary. This corresponds with forming and discussing hypotheses regarding: (1) characteristics of the participants' settings, conditions, situations and constellations; (2) specific relations between possibilities and restrictions for fulfillment that »are contained« in them; and (3) changes -especially in terms of work means and practices -that are beneficial. The participants examine their hypotheses in their every-day life/work settings, and their according experiences are fed back into the Narrative Transformation group process, where they can serve as impulses for further processes of reflection and change, possibly using Narrative Transformation. Narrative Transformation is based on notions of Activity Theory, and here especially the research direction of Critical Psychology, such as the specific notions of agency, (inter-) subjectivity, purpose, meaning, objectification and appropriation. The procedure of Narrative Transformation itself is an elaboration of the procedure of Memory Work.

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... Bringing unconscious assumptions into conscious awareness is not a straightforward endeavor. Some helpful methods are narrative transformation (Törpel, 2004) and mind scripting (Allhutter, 2012). They both stem from memory-work (Onyx & Small, 2001), a method used in social constructionist and feminist research. ...
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This thesis explores the gender-based digital divide and suggests strategies to reduce the inequality in information and communications technology (ICT) from the perspective of design. First I present the results of an online survey regarding the gender-based digital divide and the gendered user experience. The responses from over 500 students revealed that a gender-based digital divide existed in the young population, even within those who majored in technology fields. The lower scores in self-efficacy and positiveness suggested difficulties for women to study and work in ICT. In addition, the female participants were significantly more aware of the gender bias and sexism in ICT, expressing concerns about various problems such as stereotypical design , sexism, offensive user content, and gendered targeting. In the following chapters, I put the survey findings into a context and proposed strategies to tackle the problem. The inequality in ICT consists of many different factors, intertwined with each other. I suggest solutions from multiple angles, working on the user, product, and workplace. Various intervention strategies based on the findings of psychology, education, and decision making studies are presented, as well as the design methods that would help to reduce the gender bias in design.
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This contribution is a long-term study of the evolving use of the organization-wide groupware in a service network. We are describing the practices related to organization-wide groupware in conjunction with local groupware-related practices and how they have proceeded since the organization was established. In the discussion of these practices we are focussing on issues such as: 1. tendencies for proliferation and integration, 2. local appropriations of a variety of systems, 3. creative appropriations, including the creation of a unique heterogeneous groupware fabric, 4. the design strategy of multiple parallel experimental use and 5. the relation between disparate local meanings and successful computer supported cooperative practice. As an overarching theme we are exploring the explanatory value of the concepts of objectification and appropriation as compared to the concepts of design vs. use.
In participatory design (PD) projects, the course of the project itself and the functionality of the evolving application may heavily depend on the establishing phase of the project. In some of the emerging new forms of organizations these form-ative steps cannot be taken in the same way as in »traditional« organizations. Taking a service network as an illustrating example and referring to the project establishment activities of informing about the project, selecting project participants, allocating project resources and selecting project settings, it is argued that »classical« participatory approaches must be modified in order to meet the needs of these organizations. The descriptive category of the »self-employed laborer« is introduced to stress the roots of the mentioned problems in changing work settings in terms of organizational structure and culture, legal conditions, market structures and individ-ual strategies.
Author's note: This paper is a work-in-progress under development as the Introduction to a 2 nd , revised edition of Plans and Situated Actions: the problem of human-machine communication. Cambridge University Press, originally published in 1987. With the 2 nd edition of Plans and Situated Actions my aim is to rejoin a discussion in which I first participated over ten years ago, on the question of nonhuman – particularly machine – agency. My renewed interest in questions of agency is inspired by recent developments both in the area of interactive computing and in the debate over human-nonhuman relations within social studies of science and technology. What I propose to do is another attempt at working these two projects together, in what I hope will be a new and useful way. The newness is less a radical shift in where we draw the boundary between persons and machines than a reconsideration of how, on what bases, those boundaries are drawn. The reconsideration is based in critical reflection on my own previous position, in light of what has happened since. What follows are the beginnings of the argument. Machine agency As an aspect of the early twenty-first century technoscientific imaginary the sociality of machines is well established. 1 Beginning with early work on machine intelligence in the 1950s, our conception of machines has expanded from the instrumentality assigned them in craft and industrial contexts to include a discourse of machine as acting and interacting other. Within the project of designing intelligent machines in the 1970s and 1980s, at the time when I first encountered this project directly, the premise was being established that computational artifacts just are interactive, in roughly the same way that we are albeit with some more and less obvious limitations. However ambitious, the problem in this view was a fairly straightforward task of overcoming the limitations of machines by encoding more and more of the cognitive abilities attributed to humans into them. 2 The less visible and somewhat restrained AI projects of the 1990s played down the personification of machines in favor of cybernetically-inspired computer science and engineering initiatives aimed at recreating artificial life forms, via the technologies of neural networks, genetic algorithms, situated robotics, and the like. 3 These developments shifted the project of machine intelligence away from what is now referred to as "good old fashioned symbolic information processing" AI, toward a technical practice based in more foundational metaphors of biosocial evolution and, in Sarah Franklin's phrase, "life itself." 4 Nonetheless, attributions of human-like machine agency seem alive as ever in both professional and popular discourse. The growth of the Internet in particular has brought with it a renewed interest in the idea of personified computational artifacts attributed with a capacity for intelligent, interactive behavior. The dominant form of this project today is the promotion of computational agents that will serve as a kind of personal representative or assistant to their human users. The idea of personal agents was animated perhaps most vividly in the form of "Phil," the bow-tied agent in Apple Corporation's video "The Knowledge Navigator." But more reduced implementations of this fantasy now abound in the form of "knowbots" and other software agents.
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Conference Paper
In this contribution we are addressing issues of participatory processes to the development and introduction of computer applications in non-traditional work environments. The background is provided by the case descriptions of two quite different work environments with network features. According to the characteristics of these work environments we propose participatory measures for organizational-technological innovation including participatory design (PD). The suggestions we are offering are different for the two work environments; and they differ in part from common PD suggestions. There is reason to assume that common PD suggestions are suited only for a special sort of organization. Hence, we argue for an extension of the PD repertoire to encompass more forms of organizations.
This paper explores the relevance of recent feminist reconstructions of objectivity for the development of alternative visions of technology production and use. I take as my starting place the working relations that make up the design and use of technical systems. Working relations are understood as networks or webs of connections that sustain the visible and invisible work required to construct coherent technologies and put them into use. I outline the boundaries that characterize current relations of development and use, and the boundary crossings required to transform them. Three contrasting premises for design-the view from nowhere, detached engagement, and located accountability — are taken to represent incommensurate alternatives for a politics of professional design. From the position of located accountability, I close by sketching aspects of what a feminist politics and associated practices of system development could be.
Sumario: A new kind of business -- An emerging idea -- Powers of information -- The upward curve of technology -- The future by design -- The machinery of change -- Shared dreams -- Rethinking management -- A new kind of worker -- Spreading the word -- Toward a revitalized economy.
Despite the growth of interest in the field of CSCW, and the increasingly large number of systems which have been developed, it is still the case that few systems have been adopted for widespread use. This is particularly true for widely-dispersed, cross-organisational working groups where problems of heterogeneity in computing hardware and software environments inhibit the deployment of CSCW technologies. With a lightweight and extensible client-server architecture, client implementations for all popular computing platforms, and an existing user base numbered in millions, the World Wide Web offers great potential in solving some of these problems to provide an `enabling technology' for CSCW applications. We illustrate this potential using our work with the BSCW shared workspace system---an extension to the Web architecture which provides basic facilities for collaborative information sharing from unmodified Web browsers. We conclude that despite limitations in the range of application...
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