What Kind of Support Do the Tools Provide?

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The identification of the functional levels of interest has arrived at the point

where the propagation of representational states can be discussed. The

coordination seems to be working in both groups, even though the uses and the

procedure differ. These uses can be understood as a matter of cultural

interpretation where employment of information technologies is straightforward

and where it allows different approaches towards its use. Beta is in a

situation where the negotiation of how this system is going to be used has just

started. One could argue that technology through negotiation is starting to find

its role among the workers and other repositories. The final step in the analysis

is to identify the representational states the tools offer and their propagations

and thereby give an explanation why the diary is preferred.

The role of the diary can be illustrated in terms of the following dimensions.

Firstly, accessibility, as the tool is easy to access for all the members of the

group. Secondly, we have the shared information space it provides. Thirdly, we

see the overview of the state of affairs. Fourthly and finally, how the communication

of events gives an awareness of urgent and important task that goes

beyond the ordinary is handled. All these dimensions are negotiated in practice,

which have led to an adaptive role of the diary. Negotiation of the purpose and

function of specific tools’ maintenance and development is a crucial aspect,

which is hardly considered from a systems designer’s perspective. The

propagation of the dimensions above and their representational states is found

in the simplicity of the affordance of the paper diaries. Using one’s own

handwriting, small paper notes attached with paper clips, business cards that

hold important information, or writing directed messages to specific colleagues,

and knowing that the information will be addressed, are what makes the whole

difference when choosing between the diary and the software.

The weakness that the technology seems to have in this case is that almost all

information is displayed on a single user interface and that the use of the

software requires certain skills in computer use. Another problem connected

to the single user interface is that the worker, if the relevant information is to be

attained or noted down, needs to work through several steps in the structure

of the software. This also applies to the PDA, which is experienced as difficult

to use in terms of writing information into the device. The propagations of

representational states of the dimensions above were harshly rejected when the

two user groups discussed the notification function in the software.

The application and the mobile devices are not as tools excluded by the

homecare workers. Rather, one can see that these tools are slowly interwoven

with practice. One of these roles is the use of the software in the coordination

and division of work since the application eases the burden for the articulation

of activities. Furthermore, the fact that the mobile devices allow the workers to

carry information when working tending to the elderly gives a feeling of safety

and readiness among the staff. The workers expressed an idea that if the notes

were to be held in the software instead of the diary, these notes should be

displayed on the assignment list for an easy access. If implemented, this idea

would merge two functional systems into one tool. This study cannot tell if such

solution would be beneficial, but the single user interface of the computer would

still be a crucial problem to overcome.

Table 2. The functionality of different tools in the functional sublevel of


Dimensions Accessibility




Overview Communication

of events


Tools Propagation of representational states

The software


Requires a log

in, then you

need to work

your way

through several

menu choices.

The application

provide a single

user interface

Provided by


windows e.g. the

assignment list

and the

notification list

Not provided as the

identification of

notification is

found at the bottom

of the structure

Only as how it

should be

redesigned in order

to be used.

The application

on the PDA

Requires a log

in, then you

need to work

your way

through several

menu levels.

The device

offers a

personal user


displaying the

assignment list

for each worker

Provided by


windows e.g. the

assignment list

and the

notification list,

the device is

cumbersome to


regarding these


Though information

can be recorded and

synchronised, the


operation of the

device hinders this.

Only as how it

should be

redesigned in order

to be used.

The mobile


Immediate Not provided Not provided Initiated by the


Not negotiated,

rather taken for


The diary Immediate The space is

visible for

many at the

same time

Immediate access

to information

and sources

Visibility of

ongoing activities

Denoted and

negotiated on daily