Examining multiactivity using multi-camera recordings: The use of text chat in a call center
Call center work cannot be reducible to talking on the phone. Parallel to their talk, call center agents manage computer / screen activity and collaboration with coworkers present on the floor. The situated work activity that is achieved is an artful management of several forms of interaction occurring simultaneously. Among these parallel activities is the use of text chat. This keyboard writing of short messages is a quick and easy way to share information and coordinate action. More importantly, being a ‘silent’ communicative medium and modality, it allows coordination with colleagues to occur at the same time as the phone call. Focusing on text chat allows a questioning of the place and use of computer technologies in call center work. However, in order to fully understand how this artifact supports collaborative work, it is important to examine the multiactivity the agent is engaged in. The analyses of the whole situation of work presented in this chapter are based on multi-camera video extracts, giving access to the phone conversation, the screen activity and content, verbal communication and gestures with co-workers around.