Doctoral thesis

Technology communication, from design to use : analysis of conflicts and possible mediation between technical approaches of design and situated practices of use within a well-defined institutional context


241 p.

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2010

English Starting from a trigger event - the poor use of a specific technology -, aim of the research is to analyze root cause/s of such a problem, considering not only evident difficulties as regarding usability issues, but also investigating deeper reasons including organizational, cultural and social factors. In particular, the analysis dwells on working practices and communicative interactions that have affected and shaped the life-cycle of the technology (from design to use) within a well-defined institutional context. The goal is to identify those human errors that may have caused faults and weakness during the project development and that often remain undetected. The research adopts critical perspectives towards those aspects of the work considered routine or however normal procedures by the actors, making use of intertwined and complementary theories which underline the complexity of the research problem. In particular, Activity Theory, as kernel theory, provides conceptual tools to describe complexity and changes of the work place, both at individual and social level. It helps to think beyond what is wrong with the pure technology, shedding light on contradictions within the activity system and on conflicts among actors with different roles but who need cooperation to get satisfactory outcomes. Then, within Argumentative Theory, the analysis of significant talk helps to understand how the communication can affect the product outcome during the work practices. Pinpointing the strong relationships between technical and social aspects, problems apparently just technical are faced through human and communicative perspectives. In this way, it discloses how the critical relationships human-technology is often symptomatic of difficulties in the human- human communicative interaction.
  • English
Social sciences
  • Magna cum laude
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