Coherence: An Approach to Representing Ethnographic Analyses in Systems Design

Stephen Viller, Ian Sommerville
1999 Human-Computer Interaction  
This paper is concerned with how to represent in system design the kinds of features of work settings as reported by ethnographic studies of work. Various researchers and practitioners have found that ethnomethodological analyses of work settings can provide useful insights to the work processes and settings that system design is interested in. Previously at Lancaster, we have examined ways in which ethnography can be used in the design process, and how the results of ethnographic analyses can
more » ... aphic analyses can be presented in such a way as to be useful components of the design process. This paper reflects an effort to approach these methodological issues from a different perspective, by examining how the lessons learned from ethnographic studies can be reflected in the design process itself, and in particular how design artefacts (models, documents, etc.) can express the type of information which ethnographic studies produce. The paper focuses on how ethnographic analyses can influence the main representational artefact in systems design-the model of the system being developed. We examine how the Unified Modelling Language (UML) for object-oriented design can be used to express information about awareness in cooperative systems Abstract: This paper is concerned with how to represent in system design the kinds of features of work settings as reported by ethnographic studies of work. Various researchers and practitioners have found that ethnomethodological analyses of work settings can provide useful insights to the work processes and settings that system design is interested in. Previously at Lancaster, we have examined ways in which ethnography can be used in the design process, and how the results of ethnographic analyses can be presented in such a way as to be useful components of the design process. This paper reflects an effort to approach these methodological issues from a different perspective, by examining how the lessons learned from ethnographic studies can be reflected in the design process itself, and in particular how design artefacts (models, documents, etc.) can express the type of information which ethnographic studies produce. The paper focuses on how ethnographic analyses can influence the main representational artefact in systems design-the model of the system being developed. We examine how the Unified Modelling Language (UML) for object-oriented design can be used to express information about awareness in cooperative systems. 3 forthcoming from ethnographic studies. Our approach is motivated by the need to link with the working practices of system developers, and with the notations and tools that they use. The key concern of this paper, and of the Coherence project in general is to address the problems of applying social analyses in the systems design process and to establish effective communication between the two. The approach we have taken is to focus on one particular feature of the social organization of workplaces to explore how a standard object oriented notation can be used to represent it. This paper focuses on awareness of work, which has been a feature of a number of ethnographic studies, and how it can be represented in the Unified Modelling Language (UML). A previous field work site was revisited during this work, and the paper is illustrated with examples taken from it.
doi:10.1207/s15327051hci1401&2_2 fatcat:omftfleowzerboaczixaq2llnm