Technology Demonstrations: What are they for? (14 Mar 2003)
On the surface, a demonstration of information technology is a straightforward case of 'look before you buy'. However, the demonstration is markedly different from most other parts of systems development and procurement. Much of what is transacted between demonstrator and demonstratee is left implicit, and little is ever recorded. Demonstrations are generally regarded as important for a project's success, but reasons given for this vary. At one extreme, a demonstration is a dry evaluation of requirements, while at another extreme, it is a drama in which a performer charms, or fails to charm, his or her audience through a brief glimpse into a technological potential.
The talk reports an investigation of demonstrations based on interviews with experienced practitioners in various IT areas. The aim is to better understand the function of demonstrations and to examine what makes them a success or failure. Issues raised are the complexity of organizational communications surrounding demonstrations, the ever-present potential for trickery and deception, and the consequent importance placed on trust and understanding between possible future partners. The analysis draws on a range of informational and dramaturgical concepts including Erving Goffman's (1974) frame analysis.
Article URL: http://hci.stanford.edu/cs547/abstracts/02-03/030314-smith.html
(Wally Smith (Edith Cowan University, Western Australia))
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