ECSCW 2005

pp 387-406

Between Chaos and Routine: Boundary Negotiating Artifacts in Collaboration

  • Charlotte P. LeeAffiliated withCalifornia Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, USA University of California

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Empirical studies of material artifacts in practice continue to be a rich source of theoretical concepts for CSCW. This paper explores the foundational concept of boundary objects and presents the results of a year-long ethnographic study of collaborative work. This research questions the assumption that artifacts exist necessarily within a web of standardized processes and that disorderly processes should be treated as “special cases”. I suggest that artifacts can serve to establish and destabilize protocols themselves and that artifacts can be used to push boundaries rather than merely sailing across them.