Lucy Suchman is an anthropologist of science and technology. She used to hold the position of Principal Scientist and manager of the Work Practice and Technology area at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). Nowadays, she is the Professor of Professor of Anthropology of Science and Technology at Lancaster University, and the Co-Director of the Centre for Science Studies. Her home page is here.
Lucy's work has had a big influence on both my PhD, and the way I try to work with clients. When I was starting out in IT, everybody wanted to get down and build stuff, but compared to me, it seemed they didn't want to sit with the business people, "the users", and talk to them, and listen and observe, and find out what they do all day before they started designing stuff. That's what anthroplogists of technology do, and my journey has been all about finding out what I'm comfortable with, and what I'm good at, and how I can add value.
Lucy's most famous book (still, I think, though I'm no expert) is called 'Plans and Situated Actions'. It explores the differences between they way people talk when people ask us what we're doing ('Plans') and what we do when we are actually trying to get the job done (the Situated Action part.) This is a very important distinction for feminists, because a lot of the talk about work has been done by bosses who are male, and not by the people who actually do the work. It's also very important for knowledge workers in general, and anyone who has ever struggled to explain to an asshat bureaucrat - *cough*, sorry, to a manager, what is that's going on and why it matters. And of course, it is incredibly important for designers, who need to understand people's working practices well enough to create technology that serves its users, rather than slowing us down and getting in our way.
In a profession where most of the geeks are men who fancy themselves as engineers, I'm happy to be known as an anthropologist and an aspiring feminist.
Lucy is a real hero of mine. I'd like her to be your hero too.