Investigating religion and computing: a case for using standpoint theory in technology evaluation studies

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Wyche, Susan Porter
Grinter, Rebecca E.
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This research focuses on the development and study of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that support religious practices and the use of standpoint theory in ICT evaluation studies. Three phases makeup this work: formative studies to understand how megachurches, their members and leaders use ICT in ways tied to their Protestant Christian faith and the design of a technology probe, a photo sharing website named ChurchShare. The final and most significant phase is the evaluation of this probe in two churches. I deployed ChurchShare in a Christian church comprised of U.S. born individuals and argue this initial deployment took place with â ideal users,â or those I intended to use the application and who represent the traditional targets of HCC (Human-Centered Computing) research. More than 200 photos were uploaded to ChurchShare and findings suggest that the technology probe was successfully integrated into the churchâ s worship services. Standpoint theory guided the second deployment study that was conducted with individuals who are marginalized in HCC researchâ "Kenyan immigrants. Participants rejected ChurchShare and zero pictures were uploaded to the website. I compare findings from both deployments and conclude that conducting ICT evaluation studies with marginalized users leads to more objective findings than conducting such studies with ideal users. I end with a discussion describing how standpoint theory can be incorporated into HCC, focusing on how this approach offers a practical way for researchers to uncover value differences between themselves and the people who interact with their work.
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