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What’s wrong with
CHAT?
Clay Spinuzzi
University of Texas at Austin
What’s wrong with
“What’s Wrong with
CHAT?”?
Clay Spinuzzi
University of Texas at Austin
A quick word about
what I’ve been up to
for the last 20 years
Field studies of workplaces
Field studies of...
Software developers
Traffic safety workers
Telecommunications workers
Office workers
Freelancers
Searc...
Common threads
in these studies
Multiple, often quotidian texts
Composed and assembled
innovatively, sometimes
idiosyncrat...
Activity theory
Activity theory...
… and Bakhtinian genre theory (Tracing Genres, 2003)
… and actor-network theory (Network, 2008)
… and o...
Choose your own adventure!
“Your conceptual
framework”: Basics of AT?
“Your methodology and
methods”: AT and
methodology?
...
“Your conceptual
framework”
Stimulus-response (this is how animals live!)
S R
Mediation through physical or psychological tools (ex: egocentric speech)
S r
m
Mediation at the social level (cyclically repeated labor)
(also handy for bounding case studies of work)
Subject (actor/s)...
Levels of activity: To explain learning and development in collective activities
Level of activity Characteristics
Activit...
“Your methodology
and methods”
Field research in case studies
(not ethnographies)
Observations
Interviews
Artifact analysis (including textual analysis)
...
“The conclusions
you are drawing”
“I’m using a Soviet theory
to study entrepreneurship.”
— me, 2014
“Generations” of AT, with historical accretions of concepts*
* An ANT-based translation analysis
1GAT
2GAT
3GAT
mediation,...
3GAT was
applied to design
research
And consequently changed in
fundamental ways
From research subjects to
participants
Fr...
1GAT
2GAT
3GAT
4GATRhetorical pivots—as assumptions and
justifications reach their shelf life
The next pivot?
A “rough draft”
Application: Apply AT to
sociocognitive, not just social,
research into writing
Theory: Re...
“[How] your work
could speak to or be
used by scholars
from a different
discipline”
Applications in...
Professional writing
Technology studies
Human dimensions of organizations
Studies of work
HCI/CSCW
wher...
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Dartmouth discussion: What's wrong with "What's wrong with CHAT?"?

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My slide deck from the workshop portion of the 2016 Dartmouth Institute. During this portion, respondents and I discussed my paper "What's Wrong with CHAT?" This deck encapsulates the argument, but also briefly introduces activity theory and discusses its development.

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Dartmouth discussion: What's wrong with "What's wrong with CHAT?"?

  1. 1. What’s wrong with CHAT? Clay Spinuzzi University of Texas at Austin
  2. 2. What’s wrong with “What’s Wrong with CHAT?”? Clay Spinuzzi University of Texas at Austin
  3. 3. A quick word about what I’ve been up to for the last 20 years
  4. 4. Field studies of workplaces
  5. 5. Field studies of... Software developers Traffic safety workers Telecommunications workers Office workers Freelancers Search engine optimization specialists Coworkers (in coworking spaces) Innovators learning to be entrepreneurs
  6. 6. Common threads in these studies Multiple, often quotidian texts Composed and assembled innovatively, sometimes idiosyncratically Yielding solutions that balance stability and flexibility (centripetal/centrifugal) Within bounded cases (bounded by a relatively stable, mutually defined activity)
  7. 7. Activity theory
  8. 8. Activity theory... … and Bakhtinian genre theory (Tracing Genres, 2003) … and actor-network theory (Network, 2008) … and organizational networks (All Edge, 2015) AT is overly complicated. We can talk about it if you want...
  9. 9. Choose your own adventure! “Your conceptual framework”: Basics of AT? “Your methodology and methods”: AT and methodology? “The conclusions you are drawing”: Rhetorically pivoting AT? “[How] your work could speak to or be used by scholars from a different discipline”
  10. 10. “Your conceptual framework”
  11. 11. Stimulus-response (this is how animals live!) S R
  12. 12. Mediation through physical or psychological tools (ex: egocentric speech) S r m
  13. 13. Mediation at the social level (cyclically repeated labor) (also handy for bounding case studies of work) Subject (actor/s) object(ive) (material, projective) Mediating artifact(s) Community (stakeholders) outcome Rules Division of labor
  14. 14. Levels of activity: To explain learning and development in collective activities Level of activity Characteristics Activity (Macro level) Culture, history; objectives and outcomes; usually unconscious Action (Meso level) Actions and goals; conscious Operations (Micro level) Habits and reactions; unconscious
  15. 15. “Your methodology and methods”
  16. 16. Field research in case studies (not ethnographies) Observations Interviews Artifact analysis (including textual analysis) Others as they might be useful Cf. Topsight (2013)
  17. 17. “The conclusions you are drawing”
  18. 18. “I’m using a Soviet theory to study entrepreneurship.” — me, 2014
  19. 19. “Generations” of AT, with historical accretions of concepts* * An ANT-based translation analysis 1GAT 2GAT 3GAT mediation, internalization, proximal development activity system, structure of activity activity networks, contradictions, rules
  20. 20. 3GAT was applied to design research And consequently changed in fundamental ways From research subjects to participants From individual to collective subjects From prediction to description (and deliberation) From individual activities to networked activities
  21. 21. 1GAT 2GAT 3GAT 4GATRhetorical pivots—as assumptions and justifications reach their shelf life
  22. 22. The next pivot? A “rough draft” Application: Apply AT to sociocognitive, not just social, research into writing Theory: Rebuild activity theory around dialogism Phenomenon: Understand the object(ive) as multiple Development: Theorize interfering cycles of development
  23. 23. “[How] your work could speak to or be used by scholars from a different discipline”
  24. 24. Applications in... Professional writing Technology studies Human dimensions of organizations Studies of work HCI/CSCW wherever AT has spread.

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