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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.

Foundational concepts in this study: Computer-supported coordinated work, sociotemporality, multiple expressions of time, interdisciplinary studies of time

Agreement in related work: The related work cited here takes a more organizational studies bent from the HCI literature which tends to think of temporality as being quantifiable/measurable with an end goal toward improving efficiency. Mazmanian et al., call out the labor vs power aspects of the classic organizational literature as too narrowly focused and diverge into an ethnographic description of how people attempt to balance work and family time commitments. This new approach to exploring time is grounded in Zerubavel’s early work on sociotemporality and the language of time and moves away from the institutional/industry/commodity perspective.

Contested areas: The paper introduces the overarching concept of temporal logic. In the authors’ view, one particular type of logic, referred to as circumscribed time, has tended to guide technology development and process improvements by describing temporal experiences as chunkable, single-purpose, linear, and ownable. However, these concepts are often in conflict with the nuances of modern work-family life and the many ways people attempt to plan, engage in, and order social coordination activities.

Gaps/Limits in this study: The social coordination activities observed in this paper were largely limited to work-life balance issues. Whether these concepts also hold true for online social coordination or activities in other contexts is not known.

Connections to my work: time + temporality, qualitative time representations, sociotemporality, temporal theory, ethnography, design implications for temporal experiences/representations

Annotated paper:

Mazmanian, Erickson, Harmon – 2015 – Circumscribed time and porous time Logics as a way of studying temporality

Published inannotationstemporality