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Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, October 31, 2008
  ASIST2008: The Office
(uh, oops, couple more to post)

The Office
“a place of work used for non-manual work” – OED
introduce the office as a useful concept for information research
examine:
- history
- theory
- information seeking behavior
- classification
- computer desktop

office as power, as aesthetics, organizing metaphor

Jana Hartel, Toronto
Teresa Dirndorfer Anderson, University of Technology Sidney
SooYoung Rieh, Wisconsin
William Jones, Washington
Barbara Kwasnik, Syracuse

Probst – “the action office”
Now cubicle culture

offices as “innovation junctions” – discrete innovations for info production, dissemination, and storage lurched information work forward, sociotechnological system

less well studied – most study in CSCW… also look at session on Materiality yesterday by Olaf Sundin looking at the impact of place

Hartel – her dissertation on cooks, their information stores were like offices …
Anderson - “office as a state of mind” or cloud
Kwasnik- effect of time on org of
Rieh – talk more, read more, think more, grade more, organize less – information seeking and use at home
Jones – office anywhere – computer desktop “what is the office in an era of nomadic computing”

TDA: “when is the office” aka: when two or more computers are gathered there must be wifi (and hopefully electrical outlets)
digital environments are
- multisided
- multilayerd
- fluid
- ever shifting

-“perils of dichotomizing” human and machine (?)
Randall et al 2005 – sensitizing concepts in ethnographic research of work practice

when is infrastructure? only as a relational property, not necessarily as thing (Bateson 1978)
ethnography of infrastructure – when is the office?
infrastructure is part of human organization
infrastructure inversion (bowker 1994) – foreground infrastructure
info systems as political creations
same technology foster sense of community can also restrict access (Weingarten and overbey)
embedded background work with highly visible public performance (star and strauss)
information life cycle (Harper 2000) – use documents as artifacts, as the “red thread” to follow through a system

[my question is an office where you work alone or is it people together? or both]

BHK: Time and the office
office was the situation, but it was what made people decide to classify things one way or another
looked for “enduring reciprocities” – things that go together
looked at:
- situation and document attributes
- value of document
- cognitive state

lots of explicit mentions of time (some implicit)
- tense
- duration
- continuation
- frequency
- speed
- age

(this is from her dissertation research, so that’s available as are the articles that came from it)

SYR: Home office and influence on information seeking and use
Pew (Sept 2008) – 45% do at least some work from home, 56% of “networked workers” do, 20% do so constantly

mixed blessing – flexible hours, but some break from work is needed

her 2004 JASIST article – ethnographic study looking at people’s home computer environments
at home – different social roles, much broader range of topics, looking for more unfamiliar objects – more search engine use while at work may go to the same pages, and do the same things
one person household – computer in center
family – not in family hanging-out space
computer designed for single users – as a work tool

not big blocks of time – shorter intervals between other activities, less intensive
“success” meant progress in 5 minutes, not completion of task in the short intervals
at home, there’s no one to help you with searches unlike at work where there is technical support and colleagues

finding information for other people, really wanted to discuss searches while they were doing them, because they were unable to replicate later or re-find information (didn’t really use bookmarks so much) – recording sharing and disseminating – also lack of coordination among family members (why did you close my window, I was doing something)

WJ: who needs an office?
do we need to work together to work together?
example of his book – illustrator and designer – working together never or almost never co-located
a lot of stuff a la Clark & Brennan

BK – is f2f being eroded by people checking e-mail during meetings – feels like “molasses” ask a question and delay if answer – they recently had a faculty planning day and turned off wireless - for the most part worked beautifully with very efficient discussion – until people sneaked a peek at their blackberries under the table

q from Dawn P-M regarding getting into other people’s stuff – see Emilee Rader’s work (Michigan). also see Sonja Talja – collaborative information retrieval chapter, too

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Comments:
Thanks for this; sounds like the Office one would've been interesting to me. I mean it was but I chose something else.

Will have to look into Dr. Kwasnik's dissertation. Temporality issues in "lived classification"--if you will--as a part of PIM could be quite useful to me in my CAS paper, and more generally.

Comments or no, I am glad you do what you do here, my friend. Was great seeing you and hanging out. :-)
 
Kwasnik's dissertation was good (it's available via Digital Dissertations/Proquest) -- she also has a JASIST article that came from it. Barreau followed up on some of this in her work, too.
Yes - good seeing you, too!
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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