Public and Situated Displays

Volume 2 of the series The Kluwer International series on Computer Supported Cooperative Work pp 170-190

The Social Construction of Displays

Coordinate Displays and Ecologically Distributed Networks
  • Andy CrabtreeAffiliated withUniversity of Nottingham
  • , Terry HemmingsAffiliated withUniversity of Nottingham
  • , Tom RoddenAffiliated withUniversity of Nottingham

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We employ ethnography to consider the nature of existing non-electronic ‘displays’ in the home. The word display is placed in scare quotes to draw attention to the act of displaying. Seen from the point of view of action it is evident that displays are socially constructed by people in their routine interactions with the material technologies available in the settings where their actions are situated. Through the use of a setting’s material technologies to construct mutually intelligible displays for one another people come to coordinate their actions. Our ethnographic studies show that these ‘coordinate displays’ are distributed across a variety of locations within a setting. Taken together these displays articulate an ecologically distributed network elaborating the unique needs of particular environments and requirements for the development of computer support for cooperative work. We elaborate this point of view through an ethnographic study of the coordinate displays implicated in mail use in the home environment.

Key words

Ethnography home mail coordinate displays.