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2009-01-20Helena Lindgren 1 Why Activity Theory in HCI? Reaction against what was viewed as the limitations of HCI The role of the artefact poorly investigated.

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Presentation on theme: "2009-01-20Helena Lindgren 1 Why Activity Theory in HCI? Reaction against what was viewed as the limitations of HCI The role of the artefact poorly investigated."— Presentation transcript:

1 Helena Lindgren 1 Why Activity Theory in HCI? Reaction against what was viewed as the limitations of HCI The role of the artefact poorly investigated or understood Focus on novice users Limited possibility to use task analyses to describe activity and terms for activity Focus on automatisation of routine tasks Focus on one user – one computer The view on the user as solely object of study

2 Helena Lindgren 2 Activity Theory Sources: Bertelsen/Bödker, course book chapter 11 Victor Kaptelinin Susanne Bödker Yrjö Engeström (”developmental work research” – CHAT) Origin: Culture-Historical school in former Soviet Lev Vygotsky A. N. Leontjev A. R. Luria ”The Making of Mind” (1976) ”...in order to have a theory of brain-behavior relations, it is necessary to have a theory of both the brain and behavior”.

3 Helena Lindgren 3 Dynamic system theory Activity: the minimal purposeful context for analysing human activity Is characterised by constant change = development Humans interact with (and change) their environment by using tools (language, other artefacts, symbols) Avoids dichotomies subject tool object

4 Helena Lindgren 4 Two basic ideas 1) human’s consciousness develops, exists and can only be understood in the context of the human’s interaction with the world 2) this interaction – *activity* – is socially and culturally augmented “Man’s activity is the substance of his consciousness.” Leontjev 1977

5 Helena Lindgren 5 Constructs of Activity Theory – 5 keys to understanding human activity Object orientedness Mediation Hierarchal structure of activity Internalisation – externalisation Development

6 Helena Lindgren 6 Object A human’s activity is oriented towards an object An entity that exists in the world and can be studied with objective methods Can be things or humans, theories, models, ideas, social or cultural phenomenon subject tool object

7 Helena Lindgren 7 Mediating tools Tools form the way we interact with reality When external tools are shaped, internal are also shaped Tools mirror earlier users’ experiences The physical properties of the tool Knowledge about how the tool is to be used Tools can be physical or psychological The situation determines whether an artefact functions as a tool that mediates activity (not focus for the activity) or functions as an object for activity. A transformation can take place.... Tool object subject tool object

8 Helena Lindgren 8 Hierarchal Structure of Activity Activity (verksamhet) Fulfills a motive, behind which a need exists. A person may not be aware of the need but the motive, or purpose Is identified by identifying what object the activity is directed towards that is to be modified/changed -> the motive Consists of: Actions (aktivitet) Performed consciously, goal-driven Consists of: Operations (operationer) Performed without thought, do not have own goals transformation

9 Helena Lindgren 9 Internalisation Externalisation Internal activities – cognition External activities (executed outside the body) can be internalised (ex calculation) Verksamheten som helhet är viktig i denna process; tex motorisk aktivitet, användandet av artefakter Internal activities can be externalised for the purpose of involving others in the activity This continuous transformation is viewed as the base for human cognition and activity transformation

10 Helena Lindgren 10 The 5 constructs once again... Activity is directed towards an object to be modified/changed Tools mediate activity Dynamic and hierarchal structure of activity Verksamhet (activity) Aktivitet (action) Operation (operation) Internalisation – externalisation of activity Development Conflicts – ”breakdowns” ZPD subject tool object

11 Helena Lindgren 11 All keys are needed to understand the activity: What is the activity? What is the object? What is the motive? What are the tools? (internal-external) How are the above-mentioned changed? (identify breakdowns)...even if focus lies on one of the phenomenon, e.g., the system as mediating tool in the use context... Or was the system the object..? “design of a computer application is design of conditions for the whole use activity.” Bödker 1999

12 Helena Lindgren 12 Development What triggers these transformations? Conflicts built into activity systems Changes in the environment Changes in an individual’s abilities or resources Causes ”breakdowns” -> transformations -> development, is viewed as something positive! Development is viewed as a general research methodology – ”formative experiment” ZPD – ”Zone of proximal development”

13 Helena Lindgren 13 Levels of development in an individual (only intresting in relation to an activity) Zone of Proximal Development - ZPD Autonomous / independent Beyond ZPD

14 Helena Lindgren 14 Engeström’s ”Activity System” Tool subjectobject Rules / routinesDivision of labour Society / work environment / team Outcome

15 Helena Lindgren 15 Contradictions (Engeström) Types of contradictions 1) resources vs demands of results 2) Internally within the system 3) towards ”neighbour” activities 4) contradictions between how the activity is performed today and how it potentially may be performed in the future

16 Helena Lindgren 16 ”Web of activities” Central activity Rule producing activity Subject producing activity Tool producing activity Future more developed central activity

17 Helena Lindgren 17 Earlier projects: Examples – What is the activity? Volvo: Montering vs. lager

18 Helena Lindgren 18 Verksamhet: Montering Aktiviteter: montering av objekt A-Ö, beställning av fler objekt vid brist Operationer: skruva, ”skjuta”, hämta Färdig, felfri hytt Hyttlinjemontör Handdator, monteringsverktyg, lista

19 Helena Lindgren 19 Verksamhet: Hantera material som ska levereras till linjen Aktiviteter: Ta emot beställningar, hämta varor, leverera varor, fylla på varor i lager, beställa varor från leverantörer Operationer: manövrera truck, dator, kolla streckkoder Material- hantering truckförare dator, truck, lista, kodnummer, vagnar Rätt material levereras i tid till minsta möjliga kostnad?

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21 Helena Lindgren 21 Verksamhet: Systemförvaltning Aktiviteter: Uppdatera system, upprätta förvaltningsplan, identifiera informationsflöden Operationer: manövrera dator, applikationer, systemSystemförvaltare Lotus-notes, pärm m förvaltningsplaner, kommunikationshjm, egna scheman Regler Systemägare, tekniker, användare Organisation Friktionsfri, säker system- användning ute i verksamheter PROBLEM: Visualisering av komplex information

22 Helena Lindgren 22 The course from an activity- theoretical perspective verktyg subjektobjekt regler / rutinerarbetsfördelning samhälle / arbetsplats resultat

23 Helena Lindgren 23 ”Crystallized” Activity Theory Checklists Bödker (fig 11.8) Korpela et al. (fig 11.9) Focus and focus shift (fig 11.10) Activity checklist Kaptelinin Victor, Nardi Bonnie, Macaulay C. The Activity Checklist: A Tool for Representing the “Space” of Context. Interactions, july, august 1999

24 Helena Lindgren 24 Contributions of Activity Theory to HCI Extending the scope of HCI HCI needs to move focus from only ”human factors” towards the wider perspective ”human actors” Collective learning Knowledge generation Shift from byrocratic to dynamic organisations ”action research” Adding dynamic properties to previously over-simplified concepts like transparency, affordance, direct manipulation

25 Helena Lindgren 25 Literature Tips Bödker, Susanne (1989), "A human activity apporach to user interfaces", Human-Computer Interaction, Ch. 4, pp Hasu Mervi, Engeström Yrjö (1999), "Measurement in Action: An Activity-Theoretical Perspective on Producer-User Interaction". Kaptelinin Victor, Nardi Bonnie, Macaulay C. (1999) “The Activity Checklist: A Tool for Representing the “Space” of Context”. Interactions, july, august, 1999 Kaptelinin Victor, Nardi Bonnie. “Acting with Technology – Activity Theory and Interaction Design”. The MIT Press (2007)

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