Button, G. (1993) The Curious Case of The Vanishing Technology. In Technology in Working Order: Studies of Work, Interaction, and Technology, Graham Button (ed), Routledge, London, pp 10-28.

Button’s article is about probems in sociological research in studying technology. The main argument is that too often and too easily a study about technology turns out to be a study about a social phenomenon on a technology platform. Button argues that there is a need for real studies of technology, i.e. studies of actual use of technology in terms of the work practices, i.e. studies “involving ‘the content’ of technology”.

In the article, Button explains how the ideas such as social shaping of technology and social construction of technology (including actor network theory) fail in actually handling technology. In the end Button suggests that ethnomethodological studies might be a more fruitful (than e.g. SCOT) starting point for computer scientists and designers to look for informaton and knowledge that could be utilized when developing new ICT systems.

Though, a bit heavy reading for an engineer such as me, Button’s article is an excellent walkthrough of how technology is seen and studied in sociology and where on should look for when searching for things that sociology could contribute to UCD.