Demo or Die: Narrative Construction as Articulation Work for Promoting Early Stage Digital Innovations
Association for Computing Machinery
The transformation of ideas and inventions into actual products is an arduous process that often requires persistent promotion by the inventor, often collaboratively with others. Through an ethnographic field study of an information systems R&D laboratory I illustrate how innovators achieved the goal of promoting their digital inventions by crafting and performing collective narratives demos that strategically leveraged affordances of digital medium. Even though demos were not part of the formal evaluation metric for researchers, they played a crucial role within the organizations through their use for articulation work. Through this articulation work of narrative construction innovators translated their perceived image of the audience into material properties of their artifact and weaved it into their narrative presentation. These highly personalized and often interactive experiences allowed the innovators to tightly manage impressions of their artifact and of them. Products that could be personalized were more likely to garner audience interest and support within the organization. Given the increase in use of digital technology within organizations, more work is needed to understand how articulation changes with digitization.