1. Conducting research on situated practices of work
2. Connecting situated practices to interfaces, algorithms, and social forces
3. Communicating about science and technology
In Part I, we’ll be working understand what it is like to work through, on, and for internet platforms. Why work? Play is important but people often have to work to survive, so it is an important place to begin our analysis of the social impacts of the internet industries
INTERVIEWS ABOUT SITUATED PRACTICES
Identify someone whose work has been affected by platforms (see the bulleted list above).
To get a deep perspective, find someone who has been doing the work for at least six months. The person can be paid or partially unpaid, but they should spend enough time doing the work in question that they can offer you deep insights on the process and the experience.
Before the interview, locate at least three informed sources on this form of work (e.g. longform journalism, scholarly articles, firsthand accounts). You should spend at least an hour interviewing the person. Record the interview and transcribe the most interesting parts. Include a photo of your interviewee and their work space, if they give you permission.
Analysis + Deliverables
- Write a 1000 word reflection on your learnings:
- Explain the most interesting or surprising aspects of the work
- Explain any pleasures and frustrations of the job
- Reflect on how laws, competition by other workers, company policies, and interface design affect the work
- Put your observations in conversation with at least two readings from the course
- Woodcock and Waters is one good model of how to reflect and write on work
- Required appendices: Include any transcripts, fieldnotes (images of handwriting are fine), and photos from your fieldwork
- Upload the package as one document to TurnItIn by Feb 28, 1:50pm
- Submit your 1000 word reflection as hard copy. Appendices submitted digital only.
Sample Interview Questions
You are welcome to stick to these questions, add your own questions, or tinker with these. You won’t be graded on originality of questions. Do what you need to do for your interview to generate rich, detailed, interesting insights about how the internet affects work.
Notice that the questions below are all open ended — there are no “yes no” questions here. The easy-to-answer questions — facts and basic life history — are listed first so you can build rapport and common ground. Questions more connected to the internet are listed later because they might be about topics your interviewee is not used to thinking about.
Thank them for taking the time. Tell them about how long this might take (30-45 minutes) and ask about their time constraints.
Get permission to record the interview and share selected parts with classmates
Assure them that you will not reveal their name or identifiable details. Create an environment where they can talk about their work without worrying about consequences from other people.
- Where do you work?
- What is your job? How long have you been at this job?
- Tell me the story of how you got into this job.
- What kind of background did you have getting into this job? What kind of background do people usually have getting into this job?
What Work is Like
- What does a day in the life of your job look like? For example, can you tell me about what you did yesterday?
- What kinds of people do you interact with in this job? For each, kind they list: What is that relationships like?
- What would happen if you did not come to work for a few days? What kinds of things would not happen? Do others recognize this?
- In the time that you’ve been in it, how has your job changed? How has the sector that you’re in changed?
- What do you like about this work?
- What are difficulties, worries, or stresses you face in this work?
- How do you interact with the platform? Are there things you wish were different about the platform? How do you deal with problems that come up with the platform?
- How do you know if you’re doing a good job?
- How do you know if work is not going well?
- What have you had to learn to do this job better? For everything they listed: How did you learn that? Why did you need to learn that?
- How has the work you do has changed over the years? For everything the listed: What caused those changes? (e.g. policy? economic forces? technological changes? etc.)
- Is there anything else you’d like to tell me that I should know or that you wish I’d asked about?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. Can I contact you to follow up on any new questions I have as I work on this project?