Skip to content

Month: July 2018

Zerubavel – 1987 – The Language of Time: Toward a Semiotics of Temporality

Summary: The paper explores how people use symbolic language to communicate about sociotemporality (the social contexts of how time is perceived, experienced and contextualized). Temporal semiotics are used to convey sociocultural meaning in either interpersonal (microsocial) and large social structural/systemic (marcosocial) relationships. Semiotic codes that represent symbolic, non-literal social communication about time/temporality is not an explicit skill to be learned but something seemingly intuitive to both speaker and listener. This is likely a factor in why it’s so hard to for people to talk in explicit terms about temporality. Semiotic signs, metaphors, metonyms and other figures of speech do a lot of heavy lifting to convey meaning beyond the literal definition of the words. Such that, to describe such an innate metacognitive process can be very challenging.

Synthesis: Lots to unpack here. How does semiotic communication get reflected in Reddy’s TRH or Mazmanian’s porous time concepts? How can you manage online social coordination of rhythms/horizons when there are no ready cues/signals to convey intent/commitment? Is there something unique in the way SBTF volunteers symbolically talk online via an asynchronous platform about Zerubavel’s time codes: duration, waiting, lead time, speed, frequency, timing, ever-available, firmness/finality, rigidity, sequence, and the manipulation of these temporal experiences?

Example: Could the multiple temporalities that symbolize importance account for a source of tension between always online volunteers and those who show up for random periods of time? Deployments have fixed time periods for data collection but no scheduling mechanisms for volunteers. Does this create a source of friction when there is no mechanism to signal social intent or meaning?

Mazmanian et al – 2015 – Circumscribed and porous time: Logics as a way of studying temporality

Summary: The authors extend classic CSCW literature to propose “porous time” as a new approach for examining sociotemporality that challenges the dominant temporal logic (see contested areas below). Four specific elements of porous time (spectral, mosaic, rhythmic, and obligated) are described as more realistic representations of lived experience and offer more multi-faceted ways to consider time in future theoretical and applied sociotemporal research.

Synthesis: Like the Lindley paper, Mazmanian, et al., contributes a much-needed re-engagement with and vocabulary to describe sociotemporality as a modern phenomenon. Building from Zerubavel and Reddy’s work and complementing Lindley’s meta review, this paper takes a more organizational theory approach by ethnographically examining sociotemporal tensions between work and family activities. The citations are a Who’s Who in organizational HCI via UC Irvine with references to earlier work by Voida, Palen, Mark, Bowker, and Grudin.

Brunelle – 2017 – In Search of Time and Temporality: The process of temporal reflexivity

Summary: Empirical study on how people adapt/adjust their thinking about temporal constraints, and structures in order to accomplish daily tasks. The paper presents a typology of the temporal reflexivity process (conceptual, behavioral, procedural and structural) that people use to fine-tune their actions in the workplace. Helpful overview of temporal structuring concept.

Synthesis: asdf asdf asdf

Lindley – 2015 – Making Time

Summary: Lindley’s position paper serves as an important theoretical bridge between classic sociotemporality literature and more recent interdisciplinary approaches to thinking about and designing for time. Acknowledging the contributions of Zerubavel, Orlikowski and Yates, and other works that have long informed HCI and CSCW research, the paper signposts new research that broadly explores temporality in organizational studies, HCI design, and coordination work.

Synthesis: This paper strikes me as a pretty urgent call to arms to integrate broader notions of sociotemporality into HCI research, including non-Western philosophies. That a fair number of different CSCW/CHI sub-disciplines began publishing about sociotemporal concerns in a brief period of time can’t be explained away as a happy accident. Without knowing the backstory, it does seems to hint that there was some rising concern within the qualitative HCI research community about the future direction of coordination work studies and about design implications for new SaaS/technical products that promote faster-paced lives at huge societal costs in terms of quality of life, stress, and misplaced (industrialized) values.

Pschetz, Bastian and Speed – 2016 – Temporal Design: Looking at time as social coordination

Synthesis: As a concept, Temporal Design introduces a critical design approach to integrate rarely-considered alternative types of temporal expressions and artifacts in products designed for social coordination activities. The paper describes the Temporal Design process and evaluates the integration of multiple types of sociotemporalities into the design of three time-based prototypes. Barbara Adam’s work on timescapes is featured as an underlying theory about social coordination.