In Fall 2008, the first semester of my senior year at Reed College, I took a fieldwork methods class. Each student had to write an ethnographic final paper analyzing at least 8 hours of fieldwork. I chose a computer help desk as a fieldsite in which to explore conceptions of technology and Michael Jackson’s phenomenological claim that a feeling of “symbiotic mergedness” with technology is directly proportional—and radical alterity is indirectly proportional—with one’s understanding and control of that technology. After transcribing 8 hours of digital recordings of direct observation and informal interviews (transcription was the most tedious part of the process) into over 50 pages of text, this revised and slightly abridged paper is my mostly descriptive account of conceptions of technology at a computer help desk.

Download “‘Why the bleep aren’t you working?’ Agency and Subjectification at a Computer Help Desk” here. It’s also available from the Downloads section of this site.


One Response to “Paper: “Why the bleep aren’t you working?” Agency and Subjectification at a Computer Help Desk”

  1. Tom on May 24th, 2011 6:31 am

    Sounds like it was an interesting project. Bet no one thought of that one before.

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