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Technology Studies
07-29-1994, 06:48 AM
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**** C A L L F O R C O M M E N T A T O R S ****

Below is the abstract of a forthcoming article to appear in
TECHNOLOGY STUDIES (TS), an international, multidisciplinary
journal, the first issue of which is available in Summer 1994.
TS provides Open Peer Commentaries on important and
controversial current research in the field of technology
studies. Several commentaries will be published alongside this
article, and will be followed by the author's rejoinder. To be
considered as a commentator on this article, or to suggest
other appropriate commentators, please send E-mail advice to:


or write to:

Professor Urs E. Gattiker, Editor, TECHNOLOGY STUDIES,
Faculty of Management, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB,
Canada T1K 3M4
Phone: (403) 320-6966 (MST-mornings); Fax: (403) 329-2038

*-*-*- DEADLINE for responding is AUGUST 11/94 -*-*-*

To help us put together a balanced list of commentators, PLEASE
to bear on the topic if you are selected as a commentator.
__________________________________________________ _____________

TITLE: "Read Me What It Says on Your Screen...":
The Interpretative Problem in Technical Service Work

AUTHOR: Brian T. Pentland, University of California

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the difficulties involved in
interpreting calls to technical support hot lines. Using data
from six months of participant observation of the technical
support group at two software vendors, the author identifies
three kinds of impediments to problem interpretation:
equivocality and noise in the caller's problem descriptions,
pervasive use of indexical expressions that are difficult to
resolve, and a lack of reciprocity of perspectives between the
caller and the technical support personnel. To deal with these
impediments, support personnel employ a variety of
interpretative procedures that manifest themselves in their
work practices as a series of moves. These moves form the
basis for a partial lexicon of technical service work. The
analysis points towards a conception of technical service work
that emphasizes the importance of the context and practice,
rather than abstract problem solving knowledge.
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Thank you for your consideration of this matter. I look
forward to hearing from you.


Urs E. Gattiker