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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Toward a social framework for understanding personal computing

  • Author(s): Gasser, Les
  • Scacchi, Walt
  • et al.

Since the emergence of technologies to support personal computing in the mid seventies, there has been much speculation about the potentials and impacts of widespread personal computing use. In this paper we analyze two perspectives for understanding the dissemination, uses, and impacts of personal computing, which we term the "tool" and "package" views.

On the basis of empirical data we and others have gathered, we illustrate how focus - on a simple task-technology fit masks a wide variety of phenomena often found to accompany personal computing use. Using the broad scope of issues provided by a package perspective, a social analysis of personal computing can help assure a better fit between a technology like personal computers and the actual settings where it will be used.

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