Cognition, Technology & Work

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 76–87

Artefacts as designed, artefacts as used: resources for uncovering activity dynamics


    • Computing DepartmentLancaster University
  • Alan Dix
    • Computing DepartmentLancaster University
  • Paul Rayson
    • Computing DepartmentLancaster University
  • Victor Onditi
    • Computing DepartmentLancaster University
  • Ian Sommerville
    • Computing DepartmentLancaster University
  • Jane Ransom
    • Computing DepartmentLancaster University
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10111-005-0179-1

Cite this article as:
Ramduny-Ellis, D., Dix, A., Rayson, P. et al. Cogn Tech Work (2005) 7: 76. doi:10.1007/s10111-005-0179-1


This paper addresses the use of artefacts as a powerful resource for analysis, focusing on the ‘artefact as designed’ as a means of eliciting the designers’ explicit and implicit knowledge and ‘artefacts as used’ as a means of uncovering the trail left by currently inactive processes. Artefact analysis is particularly suitable in situations where direct observation is ineffective, especially in activities that occur infrequently. We demonstrate the usefulness of our technique through the analysis of artefacts within both the office and the meeting environment. This is part of a wider study aimed at understanding the nature of decisions in meetings with the view of producing a tool to aid decision management and hence reduce rework. We conclude by drawing out some general lessons from our analysis, which reaffirms the intricate role that artefacts play in maintaining activity dynamics.


ArtefactsArchaeologically inspired artefact analysisTransect analysisActivity dynamicsDecisionMeetingsField study methodology

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2005