Wild in the Laboratory

Rooksby, John (2013) Wild in the Laboratory. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 20 (3). ISSN 1073-0516

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1145/2491500.2491507


Suchman's book Plans and Situated Actions has been influential in HCI (Human Computer Interaction). The book is often discussed with reference to ethnographic fieldwork, sometimes being cited as if it were a field study. However, the book uses examples from a laboratory study and contains criticisms of ethnography. This article explores how and why Suchman carried out a laboratory study. Based upon this exploration, it argues that social analysis in HCI does not necessitate fieldwork outside the laboratory. More broadly, the paper argues that an appreciation of Plans and Situated Actions can help in moving towards forms of social analysis that span both the laboratory and the world outside. If there is to be a "turn to the wild" in HCI, this should not be a turn away from the laboratory but a turn away from research methods that ignore human practice. This is not to defend laboratory experiments, but to defend laboratory-based studies that explicate technology in practice.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethnomethodology, distributed cognition, the turn to the wild
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2018 13:12
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2019 23:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/33741

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