C47. Rice, R. E. & Schneider, S. (2006). Information technology: Analyzing paper and electronic desktop artifacts. In C. Lin & D. Atkin (Eds.)  Communication technology and social change: Theory, effects, and applications (pp. 101-121). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. [A longer version emphasizing unintended implementation aspects appears as Rice, R. E. & Schneider, S. (2007). Desktop artifacts: A site for individual adjustment to new information systems.  Vestnik: Theory and Practice of Communication – The Journal of the Russian Communication Association, 5 (English ed.), 30-46.]

This study analyzes a specific manifestation of individual adjustments associated with the implementation of a document imaging and a customer service database system: how the physical landscapes of users' desktops change.  While the participants had different job functions and different levels of comfort with technology, all had on their desktops paper artifacts related to the change in the system.  Many of these items were placed on or around their computer monitors, and were used as reminders, process summaries, indicators of system failures of poor interface design, or temporary, transitional information.  Individuals were often reluctant to dispose of paper related to the old system even though they no longer used the system to process information.  More generally, conceptual analyses identified several underlying dimensions of paper desktop artifacts: paper/electronic, materiality/complexity, forms as organizational media, and artifact as meta-information.  Physical desktop artifacts play a useful role in individuals' adjustment to a new system, can provide valuable information for systems analysis and evaluation, and should be included in research on both traditional and new communication and information systems.  

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