Choices on Top of Choices: A Case Illustrating the Dialectic Impact of User Technology Choice
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This dissertation is an instrumental case study of the dialectic impact of user technology choices on systems where users have high autonomy - more ability to choose technologies. The high autonomy context of the case study is humanitarian relief, specifically one humanitarian NGO, Local Hope. Local Hope users are like other users, choosing technologies based on many motivations, including choosing based on choices in their current environment. In dialectic impacts where users are choosing in reaction to their current environment, users' technology choices both are shaped by and shape their environment. I illustrate this by using prior theory including technological frames of reference (TFR) and sense-making. I call the combined theory perspective the high autonomy dialectic (HAD). The new knowledge in this dissertation is that systems in high autonomy user environments may be seen as dialectic constructions of user choices. Users experience differences in technologies, which creates experiential gaps, which are overcome by tactics (user choices), which in turn create impacts. These impacts are dialectic because they both are shaped by and shape the system. The high-autonomy dialectic allows us to see how high-autonomy users' systems are both the outcome of user choices and the medium in which users choose. With users' technological environments becoming increasingly complex and autonomous, both at work and in our personal lives, a dialectic perspective on user choice promises to be an incremental but highly useful contribution to the scholarly conversation in human centered design and research.