Cognitive appropriation of cooperative technologies: the cognitive ergonomics approach
Symposium on "New technologies: investigating their contextual use and appropriateness", 28th Congress of Applied Psychology
The notion of appropriation has been addressed for many years in Human-Computer Interaction, Computer-supported Cooperative Work, sociology of innovation and ergonomics. Research in these fields addressed this issue by looking at how people adopt, tailor, shape technologies and ultimately design new contexts of use. The idea behind this interest in appropriation issue comes from the general acknowledgment that all uses of technology cannot fit to all designers’ intend and therefore cannot be anticipated. In the same vein, appropriation has been considered as an assessment criteria that enrich the traditional evaluation criteria used in usability studies. Recently, designing for appropriation has become a critical field of concern. The idea is to encourage people to go beyond the mere adoption of a technology in a field of practice (be it professional, domestic, cultural, etc.), and to adapt it to personal needs. A complementary objective is to support the development of users’ cognition and skills. This gives birth to notions such as ‘affordance’, or ‘enabling’ environments. From a theoretical point of view, appropriation should be seen as a cognitive situated process. The idea is to report how artifacts contribute to shape cognition. This process must be seen both from an individual standpoint (human-machine interaction) and from a collective standpoint (social context of use). Action and activity have been identified as crucial determinants in this process and are documented in depth by different schools of thinking. In this talk, we will report some of them, such as Adaptive Structuration Theory and Activity Theories, as well as the instrument-mediated activity approach (drawing inspiration from the Piagetian theoretical frame). As an illustration of appropriation, two field studies will be presented. The first one aims at analysing cooperative activities involved in the management of energy efficiency in home-settings. Long-term activity analysis (in the tradition of francophone ergonomics) were performed with a special focus on appropriation of different innovative energy management appliances. The second study will report the design of a cooperative technology dedicated to architects’ team working in remote collaboration. The issue of cognitive appropriation of such a device requires to analyze the cooperative mechanisms, so as to characterize how problem solving and expertise might be transformed.