From Field to Simulator: Visualising Ethnographic Outcomes to Support Systems Developers
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A maritime simulator is a training and research platform for marine operations. Such simulators are frequently used to prepare marine operators for maritime industries in western Norway. Although maritime simulators were not developed with a focus on the cooperative work practices of marine operators, marine operators are in practice trained in cooperative groups. Hence, there is a distance between simulated training and actual work, which could lead to high risks in the workplace. Thus, this interpretative-based ethnographic study was conducted to investigate how marine operators work cooperatively with specific systems, such as dynamic positioning (DP) systems and automatic integration systems (AIS). The study also investigates how artefacts in the workspace on a ship’s bridge at sea could be used to help systems developers redesign maritime simulators. The study uses actor-network theory (ANT) and concepts from computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) such as awareness and computational artefacts to analyse the ways in which cooperative work is conducted. Three workshops were conducted on land with maritime systems developers to explore visualisation techniques so as to represent the ethnographic outcomes that are used to inform the design process. Thus, this study contributes insights from the CSCW field to the maritime domain by considering social aspects of cooperative work in engineering. This manuscript also contributes to design research by exploring the cooperative work of marine operators. Researchers may use the outcomes of this study as a resource as they work with system developers who are outside the informatics field. This work shows how academic contributions can be used in work practices by configuring relations between ethnographic outcomes and design to convince other professionals such as systems developers in the maritime domain. This study shows how to use insights from ANT and CSCW in a visualisation approach, thereby to include the cooperative work of marine operators in the design process. By allowing two different work practices – those of marine operators and systems developers – to meet together, this study contributes a supportive tool by adding a new mechanism for making sense of ethnographic outcomes beyond artificial simulations and experimental results. To implement the findings of this study, maritime project managers should consider that ethnographic outcomes provide good resources for designing simulators that resemble, as closely as possible, the systems that are used in reality. The development of such simulators requires the collaboration of ethnographers and systems developers, and such collaboration is badly needed in the current maritime industry. Only through such collaboration will it be possible to configure the relations between work practices and maritime simulators in the design process and thereby envision how the latter could better support work practices in the future.
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