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The Many Faces of Computational Artifacts

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Springer International Publishing


Building on data from fieldwork at a medical department, this paper focuses on the varied nature of computational artifacts in practice. It shows that medical practice relies on multiple heterogeneous computational artifacts that form complex constellations. In the hospital studied the computational artifacts are both coordinative, image-generating, and intended for the control of nuclear-physical and chemical processes. Furthermore, the paper entails a critique of the notion of ‘computer support’, for not capturing the diverse constitutive powers of computer technology; its types if you will. The paper is a step towards establishing a lexicon of computational artifacts in practice. It is a call for a wider effort to systematically conceptualise the multiple and specifiable ways in which computational artifacts may be part of work activities. This is for the benefit of design and our understanding of work practice.


Christensen, Lars Rune; Harper, Richard H. R. (2016): The Many Faces of Computational Artifacts. COOP 2016: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-33464-6_6. Springer International Publishing. ISBN: 978-3-319-33463-9. pp. 93-106. Trento, Italy. 23-27 May 2016