In the computer technology research field the question of use occupies a paradoxical position. This question seems to have always been at the heart of conceptors preoccupations and still, literature offers few theories allowing to understand and to anticipate development of use in concrete company situations. On this level, Orlikowski’s contribution (2000) is particularly motivating. After presenting it in detail we will continue by developing two areas that she explored less: technology use evolution and the role of the graphic interface (artifact) within this evolution.
Concrete Use are Relatively Absent in Research Analysis
In the area of computer technology research, the question of use occupies a paradoxical status. On one hand, the question has been the object of diversified and in-depth investigations. For example, the « Human Computer Interaction » (HCI) approach has focused on use since its goal is to improve the « usability» of technologies (Ruta, 2005). That is to say ergonomical technologies that demand minimal user learning in order to be used. In a more cooperative development logic, the Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) approach has also focused on use of IT solutions (Greif, 1988).
But, even if those literatures have placed the uses at the very centre of their reflection, they talk finally very little of «real» uses for their technologies. Indeed, the uses analyzed are more often those of the designers themselves—who test their tools in an attempt to improve them—or those of specific users, often placed outside their classical work conditions, put in the specific position of «testers» of a technology. Indeed, if scientific works and prototypes proliferate in those communities, the successful implantations of software remain rarer (Grudin, 1988; Markus & Connolly, 1990; Olson & Teasley, 1996). This fact makes the analysis of uses more delicate since it is known that the users positioned in a role of «co-designers» do not have the same behaviour as the «real» users and these test situations (even reconstructed or within the context of an experiment) are rather different to real use situations (Bardini & Horvath, 1995; Woolgar, 1991).