Where Theory meets Practice: A Case for an Activity Theory based Methodology to guide Computer System Design
Computer system developers are increasingly being challenged to develop tools that are not only usable, but more importantly useful in the sense of assisting the user to achieve desired goals. This requirement has highlighted the importance of accounting for the social and cultural issues of the computer tool user when developing a computer system. Activity Theory (AT) has emerged as a suitable framework for analysing social and cultural issues because it provides a language to describe what people do in context. However, many computer system developers have failed to benefit from this insight mainly due to lack of established methods to operationalise ideas from this framework for the purpose of guiding the design process. This paper proposes a methodology developed to direct the application of a version of AT based on Engeström's (1987) conceptualisation in order to support requirements capture during computer system design.
To appear in Proceedings of INTERACT' 2001: Eighth IFIP TC 13 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction Tokyo, Japan, July 9-13, 2001 [http://www.INTERACT2001.com/]