Colloquium: Steve Sawyer (Syracuse University): Nomadic Workers, Digital Assemblages, and Infrastructural Competence



Through this talk I build on the concept of highly mobile, information-centric and digitally-

reliant ?nomadic workers? to advance ?infrastructural competence? as a means to embody the

set of social skills and arrangements, expertise, technological abilities, situational awareness,

and goal-oriented behaviors that allow people to mobilize various digital and physical

resources, and leverage social relations, into productive ensembles. Drawing on two

overlapping studies of work, I illustrate infrastructural competence as a set of situated practices

directed at goals, reliant on assemblages of digital and material elements.

Advancing infrastructural competence builds from the goal-oriented uses of personalized

collections of digital devices, applications, services that, with other material elements, comprise

what we call ?digital assemblages.? The specific collection of digital and material elements may

differ from one person to the next relative to data structures, particular applications, devices

and norms of use. Despite such differences, the basic form and effect of different digital

assemblages are functionally equivalent and the collections are structurally similar in use across

many individuals.

Taken together, infrastructural competence and digital assemblages provide conceptual

articulations of contemporary practices. My empirical basis is work, but competence and

assemblages are just as visible in the ways gamers pursue their craft, the ways in which teens

marshal media, and many other socio-digital arrangements.

Speaker Bio:

Steve Sawyer is a member of the faculty at Syracuse University?s School of Information Studies.

Steve?s research focuses on the computerization of work, building from and extending the

social informatics perspective. Sawyer?s research is done through detailed field-based studies of

software developers, real estate agents, police officers, organizational technologists, scientists

and mobile knowledge workers. His work is published in a range of venues and supported by

funds from the National Science Foundation, IBM, and a number of other public and private

sponsors. Prior to happily returning to Syracuse University?s iSchool in 2008, Steve was a

founding faculty member of the Pennsylvania State University?s College of Information Sciences

and Technology. Sawyer earned his Doctorate in Business Administration from Boston

University in 1995.

Homepage: http://sawyer.syr.edu/site/Home.html


1:15pm to 2:30pm


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