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Synthetic Situations in the Internet of Things

Abstract : The proliferation of distributed digital technologies in contemporary enterprise challenges the understanding of situated action. This paper revisits this notion in the era of Big Data and the Internet of Things. Drawing upon longitudinal studies within the offshore oil and gas industry, we empirically expand upon Knorr Cetina’s “synthetic situation” to encompass data-intensive work where people are not co-located with the physical objects and phenomena around which work is organized. By highlighting the performative nature of synthetic situations in the Internet of Things – where phenomena are algorithmically enacted through digital technologies – we elaborate upon the original formulation of synthetic situations by demonstrating that (i) algorithmic phenomena constitute the phenomena under inquiry, rather than standing in for physical referents; (ii) noise is irreducible in algorithmic phenomena; (iii) synthetic situations are productive rather than reductive. Finally, we draw brief methodological implications by proposing to focus on the material enactment of data in practice.
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https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01619203
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Elena Parmiggiani, Eric Monteiro, Thomas Østerlie. Synthetic Situations in the Internet of Things. Working Conference on Information Systems and Organizations (ISO), Dec 2016, Dublin, Ireland. pp.215-228, ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-49733-4_13⟩. ⟨hal-01619203⟩

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