Call for Papers - Journal for Computer Supported Cooperative Work - Special Issue on CSCW, Technology and Diagnostic Work
Editors: Monika Buscher; Jacki O’Neill, John Rooksby
Extended deadline: 25 April
When we think of diagnostic work, often the first domain to come to mind is healthcare. However, practices of noticing and categorising trouble and of defining the scope for remedial action span many domains. For example, diagnostic work also takes place in software and hardware troubleshooting, engineering, emergency work, detective work, coaching, hospitality work, piano tuning, and quality control. Broadening the analytical focus can leverage important insights for the design and use of CSCW technologies.
Although frequently conceived of as a ‘moment’ of individual cognition, diagnosis is often a material, collaborative process. It requires careful sensory and sensitive engagement with other people (e.g. in healthcare, teaching, policing or customer service), resourceful and iterative probing of information technology (e.g. debugging code, playing a video game) and manipulation of material objects (e.g. fixing a printer jam). Some activities involve rational everyday knowledge, others demand scientific practices, representation and calculation, and some call for emotional and intuitive ways of knowing. Moreover, technology use pervades diagnostic work, mediating or facilitating it. Increasingly, technologies are used in remote diagnostic practices, for example, for bomb disposal, environmental monitoring, healthcare, or for customer support from one of a myriad of call centres. And local diagnosis also often relies on technological support, for example to alert people to problems, to help assess their nature, to locate solutions, to communicate diagnostic reasoning and so on.
Diagnostic practices are a pervasive and important feature of contemporary life. They matter, not least because it is through diagnostic work that different perspectives (e.g. novices and experts, users, developers and designers) meet. Technologies meant to support diagnostic work can interfere with the everyday practices, organizational structures and skills involved, both positively and negatively. For this Special Issue of the Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work we invite contributions that explore key dimensions of this dynamic relationship to inform the design and use of CSCW technologies, including questions around:
- Collaboration: Diagnosing is often a collaborative endeavour. How is collaboration organised and sustained? Is it made visible or invisible? How? How do participants ‘calibrate’ for varying degrees of competence? What technologies are used and how? How could technologies support collaboration?
- Human-matter engagement: Engagement with physiological or material agencies entails skills of human-matter ‘communication’. People use technologies that translate, amplify, or otherwise document material activities. They use thresholds, patterns and alarms. How do (or don’t) such technologies help people in making matter ‘speak’? How do they ‘sit’ with the collaborative dynamic of diagnostic work?
- Human-technology engagement: The states and processes of many of the technologies meant to support diagnostic work themselves are hard to notice, inspect, ‘diagnose’, let alone ‘debug’. How do people understand and make the most of these technologies? How do they notice and exploit affordances and address breakdown?
In this special issue of the Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work we seek to analyze the collaborative practical accomplishment of technologically mediated or facilitated diagnostic work. We particularly invite studies of domains outside of healthcare. Regardless of the domain studied, authors must clearly address what constitutes diagnostic work within the context of their study, they must clearly describe the collaborative nature of diagnostic work and the opportunities and challenges that technologies in general and CSCW technologies in particular raise. Papers may focus on:
- studies of technologically mediated and/or facilitated diagnostic work
- critiques and analysis of existing technologies in use in diagnostic practice
- descriptions of concepts or designs of new technologies for diagnosis
Submissions should be 6000-8000 Words, and follow the Springer guidelines for authors, available at
Authors should select "SI: Technologies in Diagnostic Work" when submitting.
Submission deadline: 25 April 2008
Review Reports: 21 June
Submission deadline for completed, revised manuscripts: 30 July 2008
ECSCW 2007 Workshop: CSCW, Technology and Diagnostic Work
For submission and questions please contact: m.buscher(at)lancaster.a.cuk
To go to the ECSCW 2007 wepage, click here.
Call for Participation (now closed)
The aim of this workshop is to consider the inter-relationship of technology, CSCW and diagnostic work through bringing together researchers, designers, and studies of diagnostic practices.
Diagnostic work - the ability to notice trouble and see scope for remedial action - is crucial in many different contexts of work. Doctors, mechanics, help-line operators, firefighters, experimental scientists, the police, teachers, surveyors, computer programmers, and many other professionals do it. Technologies of various kinds, databases, expert systems, decision-making systems etc. are increasingly part of this diagnostic work. Yet diagnoses are often both difficult to produce and hard to communicate, and technologies meant to support diagnostic work can interfere with the everyday practices involved. Although frequently conceived as a ‘moment’ of cognition, diagnosis can also be seen as a material, collaborative process involving expert skills, careful sensory and sensitive engagement with human agencies (e.g. in medical consultations, teaching or policing), and non-human agencies (e.g. physiological or material ‘actants’, ‘bugs’ in computer code, etc.). Some activities involve rational everyday knowledge, some demand ‘scientific’ epistemic practices – e.g. measurement, experiment and intervention, representations and calculations, and some also require other, creative, emotional and intuitive ways of knowing.
Diagnostic practices are a pervasive and important feature of contemporary life. They matter, not least because it is through diagnosing and diagnoses that different perspectives - e.g. novices and experts, users, developers and designers, patients and healthcare professionals - meet.
Technology use pervades much of diagnostic work; whether it be technologically mediated or technologically facilitated. Mediating technologies might include video-conferencing systems, online support or the telephone. Facilitating technologies cover a large gamut, from medical technologies (from the traditional x-ray machines to systems which themselves attempt to read and interpret medical data) to knowledge bases and expert systems.
In this workshop, we seek to explore, present and discuss studies of technology mediated diagnostic work in any domain of human activity, as well as analyses and designs of technologies intended to support diagnostic work. Interrelated issues contributors might wish to address include:
- Collaboration. Diagnosing is often a collaborative endeavour. How is collaboration organised and sustained? Is it made visible or invisible? How do participants ‘calibrate’ for varying degrees of competence? What technologies are used and how? How could technologies support collaboration?
- Human-matter engagement. Engagement with physiological or material agencies often entails sophisticated skills of human-matter ‘communication’. People must learn to notice, hear and make matter ‘speak’. How do they learn to do this? How does ‘communication’ take place? What kinds of apparatuses and technologies are involved?
- Human-technology engagement. The states and processes of many of the technologies meant to support diagnostic work themselves are hard to notice, inspect, ‘diagnose’, let alone ‘debug’. How do people understand and make the most of these technologies? How do they notice and address breakdown? Can ‘palpable computing’ support the collaborative work of diagnosis?
Preliminary Programme & Papers
Presentations should be ~15 minutes, to leave time for discussion.
09.00 - 10.30
Buscher, M. TBA
Ramirez, L.; Dyrks, T.; Denef, S. & G. Stevens. Context as a resource for diagnostic work.
Achanta, P.; Ark, W.; Beidler, K.; Errico, E.; Kartha, N.; Patwardhan, S. & S. Stucky. Rehearsing Diagnostic Work in a Virtual Environment.
10:30 - 11:00
11:00 - 12:30
Kuschel, J. Are Standard Solutions Good Enough?
Castellani, S.; O’Neill, J.; Roulland, F.; & A. Grasso. Informing troubleshooting search sessions with device data.
Hansen, S.; Robertson, T.; Li, J. & L. Wilson. Advanced Telecollaborative Technology for Remote Diagnosis and Patient Management in Critical Care.
Groth, K.; Olin, K.; Gran, O. & J. Permert. Complex diagnostic work in a surgical setting.
Linde, P.; Sokoler, T. & P. Ehn. Diagnostic work and palpability in hand surgery.
Amaldi, P.; Rozzi, S.; Fields, B. & W. Wong. Two views on human alarm interactions: Some empirical evidence based on operational data.
Grommes, P.; Morrison, R. & N. McDonald. Diagnosing Aircraft Health – Human-Technology Interaction in Aircraft Maintenance.
Group work and discussion, production of poster
Submission of position papers
Notification of acceptance
Deadline for registration
CSCW, Technology and Diagnostic Work
ECSCW Conference Programme
The organizers ...
We bring together expertise from a range of different fields:
Monika Büscher is a Senior Research Fellow at the Sociology Department at Lancaster University, UK. Her research revolves around ethnomethodological studies of work, science and technology studies, participatory design, computer supported cooperative work, palpable and ubiquitous computing. Studies of diagnostic work – in medical settings, but also in landscape architecture, emergency response work, and software development are an important part of my current research.
Alan Firth's research is in conversation analysis in educational and workplace settings. Most relevant to this workshop is his work around ‘calibrating for competence’ in calls to technology helplines (In: ‘Calling for Help: Language and Social Interaction in Telephone Helplines’, Benjamins, 2005 (with Carolyn Baker and Michael Emmison). He is currently working on several journal articles and a monograph - ‘Talk, Language and Culture’, for Sage publications.
Dawn Goodwin is a lecturer at the Institute for Health Research and the Department of Medical Education at Lancaster University. In relation to this workshop, she is most interested in questions of professional accountability. Working on an ESRC/MRC funded project ‘Building networks of accountability: connecting humans, machines and devices’ she explores the tensions that arise when individual healthcare professionals are held accountable for ‘decisions’ contributed to by many different clinicians and practitioners, patients and medical technologies. She is also working on a monograph – ‘Acting in Anaesthesia: Agency, Participation and Legitimation’ for the ‘Learning in Doing’ series by Cambridge University Press.
Preben Mogensen is Associate Professor at the Computer Science Department, Aarhus University, Denmark. His main research interests are tools and techniques for active user involvement in system development (participatory design, co-design); Pervasive Computing; Computer Supported Collaborative Work; Cooperative Analysis; Prototyping; and Object Oriented approaches to system developments.
Jacki O’Neill is a member of the Work Practice Technologies group at Xerox Grenoble. She joined XRCE in September 2001, initially at Cambridge, then moving to the Grenoble lab. She has an MRes in Informatics from the Dept. of Computer Science, Manchester University (1996) and a PhD from the Information Systems Institute, Salford University (2002). She is currently working on 1) issues surrounding production printing, such as the time it takes for a file to be proofed and printed; 2) collaborative discovery for litigation and 3) supporting users in device troubleshooting, following field work in technical support call centres in Dublin, and work with production printers in Edinburgh.
John Rooksby is a research associate in Computing at Lancaster University. His research interests are in software engineering, particularly in how ethnography can inform and illuminate the design process. His current research focuses upon human and organizational issues in software testing. Recently, he has also become interested in the building of ontologies in eScience.
Dan Shapiro is a Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University, UK. His main current research interests are in interdisciplinary theory for information systems design, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Participatory Design and Social Informatics. He is working on projects in ambient and palpable computing and collaborative environments, and in support for the aesthetic design professions and the emergency services.
Roger S. Slack is Lecturer in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Wales, Bangor. His interests are in CSCW, ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, and STS. He is currently involved in work on the analysis of calls to a toxicology information service and also the development of requirements for virtual research environments. With regard to the workshop, his interests on the 'improvisational choreography' of technologies, texts, gesture and speech communication in the realisation of advice-giving are central.
Plans for dissemination
For contributions concerned with technology in medical practice, a special issue of the Health Informatics Journal is being negotiated. (Edited by Roger Slack and Dawn Goodwin)
For contributions with a more general focus and contributions dealing with diagnostic practice and technology in non-medical settings, a special issue for the Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work is being negotiated. (Edited by Monika Büscher , Jacki O’Neill and John Rooksby)