Fieldwork is one of PalCom's keys to success

Becoming familiar with the work routines that palpable systems will support in the future is one of PalCom’s recipes for successful development. A team of researchers study how users from the project’s application areas make use of current and emerging technologies.

It is the experience of the researchers involved in PalCom that studying the work routines of end-users throughout the innovation process produces better technology and makes the appropriation of such technology easier and much more fruitful.

  • Therefore, several specialists in work analysis such as ethnographers and experienced participatory designers are involved in PalCom. 
  • They form a team devoted to conducting field studies of the routines of fire fighters, hand-surgeons, landscape architects, and the many other users who are parts of PalCom’s application areas. 

How technologies become palpable

PalCom’s researchers carry out participant observation: They shadow end-users, interview them about their work and participate in their everyday working routines. One of the goals is to find out what it means for technologies to become palpable. Therefore, they also study the developers involved in PalCom to learn how they make computing palpable.

Looking into the future

Another interesting perspective for PalCom’s field work team is the opportunity to study how people will interact with different technologies in the future. When policemen and doctors use PalCom’s application prototypes, they are able to see how people work with future technologies. They can then study emerging practices which is very interesting from an ethnographer’s or participatory designer’s point of view, as well as very useful for the purposes of design that needs to fit such future practices.

Contact details

Monika Büscher
Senior Research Fellow
Department of Sociology
University of Lancaster
Lancaster, LA1 4YD
United Kingdom
Mobile: +44 7890 847166
E-mail: m.buscher(at)

Dan Shapiro
Sociology Department
Lancaster University
Lancaster, LA1 4YD
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1524 594175
E-mail: d.shapiro(at)

Last Modified: 16 March 2007, © PalCom