The University of Sussex

Rethinking the role of the fieldworker for CSCW: ethnography by proxy

Lydia Plowman

Part of the rationale for workplace studies to inform CSCW system design is that they provide an understanding of current work practices so that they can be supported and, in part, preserved by the newly designed system. However, system implementation can have a fundamental effect on work practices in unpredictable ways. I suggest rethinking the role of the fieldworker in terms of the type of data collected, accountability in the field, and some of the constraints of working in industry. A brief account of 'ethnography by proxy' is discussed as a partial solution to this problem.

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