The problem of tools: Technology and the sharing of knowledge

Jessica Thurk*, Gary Alan Fine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Based on ethnographic research at the National Weather Service and at a large firm of architects in Chicago, we explore the role of technology in mediating knowledge. We consider meteorological databases and computer-aided design systems as tools that standardize and provide access to knowledge, making information transferable across organizational contexts. However, knowledge is always situated and grounded in practice. These tools, even as they standardize, create possibilities for generating and codifying knowledge that is locally meaningful, potentially giving rise to communication problems. Technology is appropriated as part of the local culture, even as it transforms that culture, altering the meaning of knowledge and the nature of creativity at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalActa Sociologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Ethnography
  • Knowledge
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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