One of the most popular and influential approaches to sociotechnical change in IT research has been actor-network theory (ANT), as developed by Latour, Callon, and colleagues (McLoughlin, 1999; Law, 1999). An early review of ANT in IT research cites examples of its application to IT development, IT-enabled organizational change, computer-mediated communication, and infrastructure standards (Walsham, 1997).
A major focus of Actor-Network Theory is to explain how stable networks of sociotechnical relations are created and maintained by the strategies of both human and non-human “actants” (e.g. Akrich, 1992; Latour, 1992). A major attraction of ANT for IT research, and one of its most controversial elements, is its symmetric treatment of people and technologies as members of actor-networks. The concept of a non-human “actant” (i.e. an information technology), influencing a network on the basis of the interests and assumptions inscribed within it, is one that has an undeniable appeal for understanding the IT world of today, where pre-packaged systems and global standards are routinely transplanted between very different use contexts.
This paper uses a key concept from ANT, enrollment in an actor-network, to account for the origins of the most commercially successful forms of personal digital assistant (PDA) technology. The enrollment... [continues]
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