Affiliated Organization

Case Western Reserve University, USA


An ethnographic study of a globally distributed e-commerce software development team reveals how the doing of work necessarily involves the shaping of space and time. Software development work is composed of multiple work elements, each of which has a characteristic number of aspects or steps that must be performed, as well as a characteristic number of communicative relations which must be maintained. Individuals on the software development team have multiple work elements that they attend to concurrently, by rotating their attention among various elements, much as a juggler keeps multiple objects in the air. Our observations of this distributed team show how the work of software development proceeds by selectively opening or closing space in order to experience a different pace of time. In this way, individuals construct a space time continuum that enables them to successfully handle the number and type of work elements that they are concurrently juggling.