What Can an Ethnography of Information Giving by Telephone Tell Us For Designing a Website?

John Rooksby and Alan Dix
Computing Department, Infolab21, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
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Paper at Healthcare Information Giving Services and Future ICTS, 6 April 2005, Lancaster UK

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Abstract

Ethnographic evidence has proved invaluable in understanding how people work and communicate with and through technology. We have undertaken a study of a Mental Health Information Service that provides information and a listening ear over the telephone. The ethnographic data gives us insight into operator work and how to better support that work. It is not the operatorsf task to relay information over the telephone but to deal with callers in accordance with their needs, to work with (and around) confidentiality, to reassure the callers, to (help) formulate the callersf problems, to draw from prior experience, to signpost, to do the organisationfs work, and simply to be there. An aim of the Service is to put information online. In this paper we ask how far ethnographic evidence of the workplace can be used in supporting design of a website.

Keywords: Ethnography, telephone information service, mental health helpline, web site design

Full reference:

Rooksby J, Dix A (2005) What Can an Ethnography of Information Giving by Telephone Tell Us For Designing a Website? In Proceedings of Healthcare Information Giving Services and Future ICTS, 6 April 2005, Lancaster UK. pp 45-57.   
http://www.hcibook.com/alan/papers/
ethno-info-giving-2005/

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References

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http://www.hcibook.com/alan/papers/ethno-info-giving-2005/

Alan Dix 25/3/2006