Engaged Scholar Speaker Series Logo

Information Technology and Community-Based User Research

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Auditorium, Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center

This event was held in conjunction with MSU's Fourth Annual Usability & Accessibility conference, part of World Usability Day.


  • Jeff Grabill picture
  • Jeff Grabill
  • Director, Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Center
  • Associate Professor, Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
  • Michigan State University

Grabill is interested in how people write together to do the "knowledge work" of their everyday lives. He locates his work at the intersection of professional and technical writing, rhetorical theory, and literacy theory. Grabill is the author of Community Literacy Programs and the Politics of Change (SUNY, 2001) and the forthcoming Writing Community Change: Designing Technologies for Citizen Action (Hampton, 2007). He has also published articles in College Composition and Communication, Technical Communication Quarterly, Computers and Composition, and English Education.


This talk is based on a study of an existing data democratization effort called CACVoices, and includes a public Web site that hosts both a powerful set of databases and other types of public information. It is an example of a common type of community network that aggregates information, tools, and IT capacity for "the public." Citizen and community-based organizations in nearly every community rely on networks like CACVoices to do their work.

In doing this research we have learned that the work of individuals and groups within these organizations constitutes a type of "knowledge work." However, while complex information technologies are readily available to such users, it is unclear how well the tools support expert knowledge workers in these new contexts. This study is one attempt to provide evidence about a common but largely invisible area of human-computer interaction — community-based knowledge work. In this talk we discuss our results and report on our attempts to design new tools to support community-based knowledge work.

Video of the Presentation

* The video presentations are encoded in RM streaming format. This file type can be viewed using Real Media Player.