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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Metaphors of Instrumental Computer Use: A Case Study

  • Author(s): Conery, John S.
  • et al.

There are two metaphors for describing instrumental computer use: the computer as a tool, and a more comprehensive package metaphor that emphasizes all aspects of computer use (hardware, software, and social interactions with vendors and other actors in the computing world). Whereas the tool view of computing is concerned with the direct costs of hardware and software, the package view helps one estimate all costs -- social and technical -- of instrumental computer use. Data from a case study of two research laboratories that used computers for data collection provides empirical support for a package metaphor.

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