Cognition, Technology & Work

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 76–87 | Cite as

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

  • Devina Ramduny-EllisEmail author
  • Alan Dix
  • Paul Rayson
  • Victor Onditi
  • Ian Sommerville
  • Jane Ransom
Original Article


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.


Artefacts Archaeologically inspired artefact analysis Transect analysis Activity dynamics Decision Meetings Field study methodology 



Tracker: Reducing rework through decision management project is funded by the EPSRC Systems Integration programme in the UK, EPSRC Grant Ref. GR/R12183/01, May 2001. We would like to thank the Business Enterprise Centre (BEC) at Lancaster University for giving us access to their meetings and offices, the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Dependability (DIRC) project for the use of their minutes and finally, the developers of TeamSpace at the Georgia Institute of Technology for the use of their tool.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devina Ramduny-Ellis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan Dix
    • 1
  • Paul Rayson
    • 1
  • Victor Onditi
    • 1
  • Ian Sommerville
    • 1
  • Jane Ransom
    • 1
  1. 1.Computing DepartmentLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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