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Talking about Chat at Work in the Global South: An Ethnographic Study of Chat Use in India and Kenya
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
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2019 (English)In: CHI '19: Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2019, p. 1-14, article id 233Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we examine how two chat apps fit into the communication ecosystem of six large distributed enterprises, in India and Kenya. From the perspective of management, these chat apps promised to foster greater communication and awareness between workers in the field, and between fieldworkers and the enterprises administration and management centres. Each organisation had multiple different types of chat groups, characterised by the types of content and interaction patterns they mediate, and the different organisational functions they fulfil. Examining the interplay between chat and existing local practices for coordination, collaboration and knowledge-sharing, we discuss how chat manifests in the distributed workplace and how it fits – or otherwise – alongside the rhythms of both local and remote work. We contribute to understandings of chat apps for workplace communication and provide insights for shaping their ongoing development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2019. p. 1-14, article id 233
Keywords [en]
ethnography, chat apps, mobile messaging, distributed workforce, collaboration
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Man-Machine-Interaction (MMI)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-177856DOI: 10.1145/3290605.3300463ISBN: 978-1-4503-5970-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-177856DiVA, id: diva2:1383861
Conference
CHI 2019, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, May 4-9, 2019
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social Order of the Co-Located Mobile Phone: Practices of collaborative mobile phone use
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social Order of the Co-Located Mobile Phone: Practices of collaborative mobile phone use
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines mundane practices of everyday phone use to make conceptual, empirical and methodological contributions to ongoing research on mobile technology. It argues that we do not yet have a clear understanding of how the mobile phone is used–who does what, when and why. Yet these details are important if we are to judge the impact of mobile technology, understand the possibilities and dangers it offers, or evaluate claims about its broader impact on our sociality.

The participation of both the phone user and those co-located is examined–to understand how we actively create and maintain a new ‘social order’ with mobile phones. Across five separate studies, a mix of methods is used to look closely at phone use. Drawing extensively on in situ video recording of device use, as well as interviews and ethnographic observations, the empirical chapters cover three different types of device use: search, messaging, and way-finding. The chapters look at the specifics of how the applications manifest themselves in practice (such as message notifications, or the ‘blue dot’ in map apps), as well as the practices adopted to use, manage and balance those applications within ongoing co-located, face-to-face interactions.

Empirically, the studies document how co-located phone use is dependent upon the technology, but is also reliant upon new practices of collaboration and co-operation. I discuss how participation is managed (who is involved), the temporal organisation of action (when use occurs), and the recurrent actions and materiality of those practices (what happens). Moment-by-moment analysis of the practices highlights the importance and value of making phone use publicly accountable to avoid disturbing the ‘local order’, but also for sharing knowledge and making sense of the world together, as well as having fun and maintaining friendships.

The methodological contribution is found in the hybridity of methods adopted to meet the challenge of collecting and analysing data relevant to studying what is happening when we use our phones. A combination of ethnography with video and conversation analysis, and the creative use of probes to support interviews is proposed, to gain access to a broader perspective on phone use. Through reliance upon empirical observation, we can avoid abstract and reductive generalisations about phone use, discussing instead the observable action and resources that do occur recurrently around mobile phone use–how things get done with mobiles.

Conceptually, the thesis draws on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis for a perspective on how we make sense of the day-to-day interactions we have with one another–how we bring about and sustain the ‘local’ social order. I argue that practices of mobile phone use are constituent parts of local order in everyday life, and that their examination is key to understanding what social order is now like. A conceptual ‘diamond’ of mobile phone practice, broken down into elements of time, body, materiality, and repair is proposed. In conclusion, the thesis highlights the prevalence of phone practices beyond individual, task-oriented pursuits and I finish by reflecting on possible future research to enhance the collaborative, social aspects of mobile technology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2020. p. 181
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 20-002
Keywords
Human-computer interaction, Mobile phones, Ethnography, Video analysis, Collaborative interaction, Field studies
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178020 (URN)978-91-7911-020-8 (ISBN)978-91-7911-021-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-02-28, Aula NOD, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-02-05 Created: 2020-01-16 Last updated: 2020-01-31Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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