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  • Call for Commentators on Pentland's article

    Please excuse cross-postings. We are trying to reach as broad
    a base as possible and apologize to those who receive multiple
    copies. Electronic distribution of this posting is greatly
    encouraged, preserving its original version, including the
    header and this notice. Please feel free to pass it on to
    anyone you think might be interested.
    ************************************************** *************

    **** 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:

    GATTIKER3@CETUS.MNGT.ULETH.CA

    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
    GIVE SOME INDICATION OF THE AREAS OF EXPERTISE YOU WILL BRING
    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.
    __________________________________________________ _____________


    Thank you for your consideration of this matter. I look
    forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,


    Urs E. Gattiker
    Editor
    TECHNOLOGY STUDIES
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