Wednesday, 24 March 2010

ALD10 Lucy Suchman


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.

40 comments:

Mel said...

Oh, I think I like her already.

:-)

("asshat bureaucrat", in all it's sing-songy way, had me chuckling, btw.)

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Anonymous said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。 ..................................................

Anonymous said...

堅決的信心,能使平凡的人,成就不平凡的事。......................................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

累死了…來去看看文章轉換心情~ ........................................

Anonymous said...

文章很棒~感謝!!..................................................

Anonymous said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。..................................................

Anonymous said...

嘿,你的部落格不錯耶~~只是想跟您問聲好!! ..................................................

Anonymous said...

人要學習健忘,把所有不如意忘掉,才會快樂。 ....................................................

Anonymous said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債..................................................

紋謙PhilCrispin0 said...

真是太猛了,請受小弟一拜Orz(>O<)..................................................

Anonymous said...

人逢順境不逞強,身處逆境不示弱。........................................

明英 said...

你不能改變容貌~~但你可以展現笑容................................................................

上心上心 said...

真是太有道理了~~我支持你~~~.................................................................

Anonymous said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。......................................................................

Anonymous said...

一棵樹除非在春天開了花,否則難望在秋天結果。.................................................................

Anonymous said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。....................................................................

Anonymous said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

Anonymous said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

Anonymous said...

你的分享很不錯.. 謝謝 ..................................................................

Anonymous said...

相逢即是有緣~~留個言問候一聲,祝您平安順利............................................................

Anonymous said...

認清問題就等於已經解決了一半的問題。..................................................................

Anonymous said...

Drive carefully. It is not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.............................................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

謝謝您囉~~看您的分享文章是個很好的經驗~~............................................................

Anonymous said...

Many a true word is spoken in jest..................................................................

Anonymous said...

Learning makes life sweet.

Anonymous said...

留言支持你~希望能看到更好的作品 ............................................................

Anonymous said...

每日都有新日光,每日都有新希望。.................................................

建邱勳 said...

放棄者不會勝利,勝利者永不放棄。............................................................

文王廷 said...

生命是一頓豐富的宴席,有人卻寧可挨餓................................................

Anonymous said...

No pains, no gains.......................................................................

Anonymous said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.......................................................................

Anonymous said...

與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Anonymous said...

認清問題就等於已經解決了一半的問題。..................................................

Anonymous said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。..................................................... ............

Anonymous said...

傻氣的人喜歡給心 雖然每次都被笑了卻得到了別人的心..................................................................

C.J. Duffy said...

Interesting piece on someone I had never heard of.

Judging by all the comments, Lucy is big in the orient.

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