Journal of Information Technology

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 163–175

Unpacking user relations in an emerging ubiquitous computing environment: introducing the bystander

Research Article

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jit.2000123

Cite this article as:
Ferneley, E. & Light, B. J Inf Technol (2008) 23: 163. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jit.2000123


The move towards technological ubiquity is allowing a more idiosyncratic and dynamic working environment to emerge that may result in the restructuring of information communication technologies, and changes in their use through different user groups' actions. Taking a ‘practice’ lens to human agency, we explore the evolving roles of, and relationships between these user groups and their appropriation of emergent technologies by drawing upon Lamb and Kling's social actor framework. To illustrate our argument, we draw upon a study of a UK Fire Brigade that has introduced a variety of technologies in an attempt to move towards embracing mobile and ubiquitous computing. Our analysis of the enactment of such technologies reveals that Bystanders, a group yet to be taken as the central unit of analysis in information systems research, or considered in practice, are emerging as important actors. The research implications of our work relate to the need to further consider Bystanders in deployments other than those that are mobile and ubiquitous. For practice, we suggest that Bystanders require consideration in the systems development life cycle, particularly in terms of design and education in processes of use.


mobile computing user relations bystanders agency 

Copyright information

© Association for Information Technology Trust 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IS, Organisations and Society Research Centre, University of SalfordSalfordUK