Elaboration the captured activity records which are

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Elaboration. The captured activity records, which are in economic terms among the products of the reorganized activity, can now be stored, inspected, audited, merged with other records, subjected to statistical analysis, employed as the basis of Pareto optimization, and so forth. Likewise, concurrent computational processes can use captured records to “watch” the ongoing activities for purposes of error detection, advice giving, performance measurement, quality control, and so forth. These additional processes might arise simultaneously with the instrumentation phase, or they may accumulate long afterward. This cycle is normally attended by a kind of mythology, according to which the newly constructed grammar of action has not been “invented” but “discovered.” The activity in question, in other words, is said to have already been organized according to the grammar. Of course this is not wholly false; imposing a grammar that radically and arbitrarily misrepresents the activity will probably lead to calamity. But even when a grammar of action is relatively “good” in this sense, its imposition will generally require hard work, both for the people who are imposing the grammar and the people upon whom the grammar is imposed. The work of these latter participants consists in part of finding ways to organize one’s activities, even in the tricky and exceptional cases, so that they can be parsed within such- and-such a vocabulary of discrete units. Indeed, it is crucial to appreciate the senses in which the imposition and instrumentation phases constitute a reorganization of the existing activity, as opposed to simply a representation of it. Let us distinguish eight such senses, in increasing order of significance for the current argument: (1) The introduction of new technologies, whether they involve the capture of activities or not, is frequently the occasion for a wide variety of other kinds of changes to the activity, for example due to extrinsic economic changes (e.g., Iacono and Kling 1987). Indeed technological change is generally inseparable from broader social changes. (2) The representations constructed in the articulation phase (based to some extent on empirical study of the activity, but mostly on informal speculation and scenario-making) and then in the elaboration phase (based on the newly accumulated database of parsed activity) frequently suggest rearrangements of the activity (Quinn 1992, Taylor 1923). Some of these rearrangements may be designed in part to facilitate the capture process, as in Hammer’s (1990: 112) dictum, “Capture information once and at the source.” (3) Grammars of action frequently oversimplify the activities they are intended to represent, if only because the people who articulate the grammars are only superficially acquainted with its actual complexities and the actual social forces that determine its form (Suchman and Jordan 1989). The ontology may fail to make enough distinctions, or else whole subcategories of “invisible” activity might go unrepresented. The grammar might impose overly
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  • Spring '14
  • Vanouse,P
  • capture model, surveillance model

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