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Six roles of documents in professionals' work

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Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands


Documents are used extensively by professionals in their execution of their own work and to share information with others Professionals use and manage their documents in ways that are woven into their work activities and leave most of the. context unsaid because the documents are understood as belonging to a certain ongoing activity. Contrary to this, organisations have a strong interest in storing information in less persondependent ways than simply relying on their employees' memory and personal files To support document management effectively we need to balance the individual professionals' focus on their current activities against the long-term interests of the organisation, and we need a fuller understanding of the affordances and constraints of documents This study identifies six roles documents play in professionals' work, namely that documents serve (1) as personal work files, (2) as reminders of things to do, (3) to share information with some yet withhold it from others, (4) to convey meaning, (5) to generate new meaning, and (6) to mediate contacts among people Painstakingly standardised and very time-consuming methods are required for documents to convey meaning but such efforts are rarely considered worthwhile compared to relying on other document roles or rework


Hertzum, Morten (1999): Six roles of documents in professionals' work. ECSCW 1999: Proceedings of the Sixth European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. DOI: 10.1007/0-306-47316-X_3. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. ISBN: 978-0-306-47316-6. pp. 41-60. Full Papers. Copenhagen, Denmark. 12–16 September 1999