Eryn Whitworth Ph.D.
Eryn Whitworth Ph.D.
"All the work of the hand is rooted in thinking.‎" – David Sudnow

Academic Research Summary


As an academic researcher, I love to study cooperative work. Specifically, I have a passion for the study of face-to-face and mediated communication through analysis of conversation and bodily conduct.  My goal is to advocate for the body as communication system in itself, which ought to be thoughtfully integrated into the design of digital systems. This page contains a description of my dissertation research and list of selected publications.


I <3 fieldwork

Here are a few of the things I pack when collecting microethnographic data.




D. Bailey (Chair), J. Streeck, J. Howison, and Patricia Galloway

Hetero-Technic Cooperation with Computing and Non-Computing Technologies

A Study of the Transmodal Capacity of Prosodic Cues to Alleviate Asymmetric Access to Tactile Phenomena

My dissertation investigated a specific kind of technology mediated work called Hetero-Technic Cooperation with computing and non-computing technologies (HTC (C-NC)) to understand the verbal communication of parties who pursue a shared technical goal by taking complementary roles using different technologies.

Hetero-Technic Cooperation

In HTC (C-NC) work settings face-to-face communication is rare and mediated communication is common, as exemplified in the setting of cardiac electrophysiology (cardiac EP) surgery suites. 

In these settings workers face, and must overcome, significant asymmetries in access to visual and tactile information implicit in cooperative work with computing and non-computing technologies.

Microethnographic Analysis

To address this topic, I tailored microethnographic methods to analyze speech in cooperative work. Data collection entailed:

  • Ethnographic observations of 29 cardiac EP procedures in two US hospitals
  • Recording of 5 procedures using multi-camera film production techniques
  • Transcription of all recorded procedures using conversation analytic techniques

Investigation into HTC (C-NC) reveals....

My findings address the role of verbal communication in highly contingent, interdependent, and delicate social interactivity. I identified a new category of cooperative mechanisms, the use of prosodic cues (i.e., the rhythmic and intonational aspect of spoken language) to overcome significant asymmetries in access to information.

Take aways...

This research lends insights into the role of the body in cooperative work that inform the design of technologies. This research also illustrates my approach to the study of technology use as a full body experience.


Academic Publications


Feinberg, M., Broussard, R., & Whitworth, E. (2014). Framing a set: understanding the curatorial character of personal digital bibliographies. Interacting with Computers28(1), 102-124.


Whitworth, E. (2014) World-at-hand and World-in-sight: Communication Practices in Contemporary Hetero-technic Cooperative Work. In The 6th conference of ISGS. San Diego, CA, USA.

Richard Harper, Eno Thereska, Sian Lindley, Richard Banks, Phil Gosset, William Odom, Gavin Smyth, and Eryn Whitworth, (2013) What is a file?, in ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.

Whitworth, E. and Harper, R., (2013) “Fixity: Identity, Time and Durée on Facebook”. In Proc.
Internet Research.

Feinberg, M., Geisler, G., Whitworth,E., and Clark, E., (2012) “Understanding Personal Digital Collections: An Interdisciplinary Exploration”. In Proc. Designing Interactive Systems.

Geisler, G., Willard, G., and Whitworth, E. (2010). "Crowd-sourcing the Indexing of Film and Television Media" In Proc. of American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Crow, J., Whitworth, E., Wonga, A., and Pendyala, S., (2010). “Timeline Interactive Multimedia Experience (TIME): On Location Access to Aggregate Event Information,” In Proc. of Joint Conference on Digital Libraries.

Workshop and Poster Presentations

Whitworth, E., (2012) “Documenting Design Process thru Autoethnography”. Workshop on supporting reflection in and on design processes at Designing Interactive Systems.

Garnett, A., Whitworth, E., and Fazzio, S. (2012) “Doctor Who meets Doctor Zhivago: Modeling Serendipity on Extreme Divergence”. Workshop on Design, Influence and Social Technologies at Computer Supported Collaborative Work.

Whitworth, E. (2010). "Overcoming Obstacles to Sketching the Design of Collections with Rhetorical Purpose" Poster at American Society for Information Science and Technology.