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Auspicious computing?

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1 Author(s)

Anthropologists working in the technology industry are nothing new. Lucy Suchman and Julian Orr blazed that trail at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the late 1970s; they helped shed light on a range of organizational and work practices, documenting the ways in which people responded to the influx of new technologies such as early photocopying machines and computer-aided design (CAD) programs. Indeed, the late Marc Weiser credits Suchman, Orr, and their PARC colleagues with helping him think through the "ubiquitous computing" notion and compelling him to animate it with real people and their daily lives. Currently, anthropologists and other social scientists still work at Xerox, Kodak, Microsoft, Whirlpool, Philips, and Intel. Not only do we continue to use anthropological methods and theories to make sense of everyday activities and cultural practices for a diverse industry audience, but we also find ways to challenge the implicit assumptions that underwrite our very notions of what technology could or should do. This paper examines one such set of assumptions that everyone seems to share about computing.

Published in:

Internet Computing, IEEE  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 2 )