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Prototyping Praxis: Constructing Computer Systems and Building Belief

By Douglas Tudhope, Paul Beynon-davies and Hugh Mackay


This paper explores the consequences of the uncertainty introduced into the system development lifecycle by a prototyping approach and the practical strategies employed by developers in prototyping projects. Drawing on various strands of the sociology of technology, the paper discusses findings from a multi-disciplinary research project, which investigated the use of prototyping in commercial information systems development in the UK during the period 1995-1998. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with commercial practitioners were followed by a series of mini case studies. We draw on interview and participant observation material and the practitioner literature on Rapid Application Development (RAD). In the course of the project, we encountered a variety of practical strategies which attempted to extend the sphere of developers ' influence beyond the technical realm to affect (but not determine) how the user/customer participates in the development process. Various techniques attempt to create a climate of joint ownership and shared approaches to change management. For example, the role of an ambassador user encompasses shaping the environment in which the system will operate via information

Year: 2000
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