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Mapping Experiences with Actor Network Theory

My presentation from ATTW's annual conference. I talk about how we can better design for experiences if we first understand the context in which we are building products and services. This simple mapping system helps visualize these contexts.

Want more? Check out my book on social media and disaster, filled with more information on how to map networks using actor-network theory

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Mapping Experiences with Actor Network Theory

  1. 1. Mapping Posthuman ExperiencesLiza Potts | WIDE Research | Michigan State University | @LizaPotts |
  2. 2. mapping for experiencesmapping systems help us understand uses, flow, statesseveral types of mapping systems exist UML, basic flowcharting, activity theory diagrams, etc.we map before building apps, changing processes, etc. with a major focus on activities (verbs)often missing: actors (nouns) who/what participate in activities
  3. 3. UMLUnified Modeling Languagetraditional diagramming to design products, services, & processesdrives the approach of systems design, software design, and processimprovementuse cases, activity diagrams, state diagrams, etc.
  4. 4. use casesUML | action-oriented, verbs, single-participant / single-activity
  5. 5. activity diagramUML | activity-oriented, flow, single-participant / single-activity
  6. 6. sequence diagramUML | system-oriented, actions, two or more systems/ relaying activity
  7. 7. missing component: contexthow can we map for experience w/o knowing who/what is there?need to know who participates before we can build for participation what people are involved? what technologies are available? what organizations are involved? what locations are involved (physical or virtual)? what events are occurring to spur action?what other people, places, things are part of the network?
  8. 8. actor network theory actor-network theory (ANT) originated from Latour, Law, and Callon working in the field of STS, Latour shook up then-current theories in sociology by suggesting all participants (actors), whether they are human or nonhuman, have equal agency to affect any given situation actors come together to form temporary networks anchored by another actor, creating assemblages of relations specific to an individual act or broader event and forming a collective (an “actant”) an actant is a network comprising any actors—cell phones, blogs, people, etc—that have the ability to act and do act within the network
  9. 9. ANT mappinga method for understandingthe context of workplacetechnologies, organizations,and people beforedocumenting tasks,processes, and workflowsa way for researchers tovisualize their field-basedresearch (whether offlineor online) as assemblages ofpeople, organizations, andtechnologies
  10. 10. why mappingprovides a strong strategic view of the research spaces that technicalcommunication scholars often explorediagramming the people, places, organizations, events, andtechnologies can empower design teams to know their audience’scontext, relationships, and distribution before they attempt to createinnovationsdiagrams can help teams reach common ground more quickly bycollaboratively developing a shared understanding of theimplications of their proposed product designs, policies, and services
  11. 11. when to mapwhen you want to know who is participatingwhen you are trying to understand contextbefore building any products, services, processesexamining actors and networks provides a broader understanding ofthe people, organizations, technologies, groups, places, and eventsimportant to mediated systems
  12. 12. how to mapstart on paper, whiteboardmove on to some kind of digital tool for ease of sharing powerpoint / keynote omnigraffle / visio inkscape / illustratorfind stencils Noun Project, clip art, etc. (basic = better)
  13. 13. what to maplook for actors who are active in the networks you are analyzingdocument only nouns - not verbs (use UML for that)nouns such as... people: moderator, commenter, poster, anchor organizations: CDC, Red Cross, MSU, EFF technologies: iPhone, Google Doc, Nexus7 objects: tweet (noun, not verb), blog post, video comment
  14. 14. nounshuman and non-human | people, places, things
  15. 15. patternsusing stencils or similar placeholders to identify similar objects
  16. 16. relationshipsusing stencils or similar placeholders to identify similar objects
  17. 17. thank you!Obligatory book plug: First book in our new ATTW series from Routledge Coming Late Summer 2013 lpotts@ | @LizaPotts
  18. 18. references/recommendationsCallon, M. (1986). Some elements of a sociology of translation: Domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay. In J. Law (Ed.),Power, action, & belief. A new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 196–229). London: Routledge.Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Latour, B. (1996). Aramis. Or the love of technology. (C. Porter, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original work published 1993).Latour, B. (1999). Pandora’s hope: Essays on the reality of science studies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. New York: Oxford University Press.Law, J. (1992). Notes on the theory of the actor-network: Ordering, strategy and heterogeneity. Systems Practice, 5, 379–393.Mol, A., & Law, J. (1994). Regions, networks and fluids: Anaemia and social topology. Social Studies of Science, 24, 641–671.With thanks & attribution to the awesome artists of my icons:The Noun Project: Bird designed by Thomas Le Bas from The Noun Project. Bomb designed by Adam M. Mullin from The Noun Project. Building designed by Nate Eul from The Noun Project. Calendar designed by Marcio Duarte from The Noun Project. Camera Phone designed by Roy Milton from The Noun Project. Circle designed by Thomas Le Bas from The Noun Project. Coastal designed by Iconathon from The Noun Project. Community designed by T. Weber from The Noun Project. Desk designed by James Thoburn from The Noun Project. Explosion designed by Renee Ramsey-Passmore from The Noun Project. Fax Machine designed by Braden Stranks from The Noun Project. Gears designed by Dima Yagnyuk from The Noun Project. Hash designed by P.J. Onori from The Noun Project. Hurricane designed by The Noun Project. India designed by Satheesh CK from The Noun Project. Information Technology designed by United Nations OCHA from The Noun Project. London Underground designed by Viktor Hertz from The Noun Project. Network designed by The Noun Project. Notebook designed by Brendan Lynch from The Noun Project. Picture designed by mooooyai from The Noun Project. United States designed by James Keuning from The Noun Project. User designed by Denis Chenu from The Noun Project.