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Information systems 'in the wild': supporting activity in the world

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Although conventionally designed information systems provide information via a computerised display, in everyday life, our actions are informed by information obtained from a variety of places in a variety of ways. Drawing on conventional information systems (IS), human-computer interaction (HCI), ecological psychology and sociology and building on existing work on situated information systems, this article explores the idea of obtaining information from the environment to accomplish workplace activity in a routine way. A typology of conceptually distinct sources of information is presented and this has implications for what we understand information systems to be. Just as Hutchins (1995) refers to his conception of cognition as 'cognition in the wild', so we can conceive of situated information systems 'in the wild' rather than confined to computational space. The argument with respect to information systems analysis and design is that abstract representations should not be the only option considered. Using the information source that is most appropriate given the particular context of the actor and the environment will better support the accomplishment of collective routines, increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

Keywords: affordance; information systems design; information systems theory; situated systems; ubiquitous computing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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