Thursday, October 07, 2004

Questions, Talking About Machines

This doesn't count as one of my questions, but what is with that title? When the whole point of the book is not just talking about machines!

Right. Questions.

  1. Could we get an overview on ethnographic research methods? Observation, interviewing, fitting oneself into the population being researched, making sense of the results -- this is all very interesting, and I know very little about it.

  2. On the management and de-skilling question (p. 150): I'm not even sure where to start with this. So-called "knowledge management" efforts have struck me as management's wishful attempts at de-skilling employees ("if we could only get that knowledge out of their pesky heads, we could fire 'em and hire youngsters at half the cost!"). Is invisible labor invisible to management too? Why doesn't management employ some of the same ethnographic techniques Orr uses in order to understand what their workers actually do? And whence cometh this delusion that hands-on experience can be reduced to an intranet or a training session?

  3. That said, is Orr's service triangle really a quadrangle? Where is IBM management in all this?


mary_m said...

On the parenthetical in question 2, yer funny, Dorothea. Very Mr. Burns. :)

On question 3, I agree, and would like to talk about this, too. It's not even that Orr doesn't give management credit for being important to the service structure (along with sales). They just aren't part of the equation, even though they could be.

ellen said...

On the matter of the title, I thought of it as Orr's way of incorporating one of the themes of his book into a catchy title. Mainly that the community of technicans is very dependent on talking about the machines with each other.

I also want to talk about IBM management as it seems that asides that Orr has included about them almost seem to reflect a bias. Oh, now I will have to find examples to support this and bring them to class!