Theatre of Use: A Frame Analysis of Information Technology Demonstrations
Source TitleSocial Studies of Science
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sSmith, Michael
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSmith, W. (2009). Theatre of Use: A Frame Analysis of Information Technology Demonstrations. SOCIAL STUDIES OF SCIENCE, 39 (3), pp.449-480. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312708101978.
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Demonstrations are a universal form of technical exchange in the world of information technology (IT), but they get almost no mention in its practical guides and theoretical accounts. To understand their structure, role and status better, an interview study was carried out with experienced practitioners focusing on commercial presentations of software to large organizations. Drawing on Goffman's frame analysis, the present-day IT demonstration is seen in relation to other members of a broader class of technoscientific displays, particularly those of pre-20th century science epitomized by the famous performances of Boyle, Faraday and others. The focus of the account here is on how demonstrations are experienced by participants and what this might reveal about the manner of knowledge production that they make possible. Following a dramaturgical metaphor, the IT demonstration is understood as a Theatre of Use in which a possible sociotechnical system is represented dramatically through the actions of the demonstrator interacting with the technology. What comes to be known through the performance is seen to be multiply-framed and to encompass various ways of knowing.
KeywordsHistory and Philosophy of Specific Fields
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