I am an anthropologist at Agilent Technologies in Agilent Laboratories.  I have worked in industry since 1984. I've studied the use of technology in offices, hospitals, schools, libraries and laboratories. My theoretical orientation is activity theory, a philosophical framework developed by the Russian psychologists Vygotsky, Luria, Leont'ev and their students. My interests are user interface design, collaborative work and theoretical approaches to technology design and evaluation.My current work is an investigation of the work practices of network engineers.

In  Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart, (MIT Press, 1999) co-author Vicki O'Day and I seek a middle ground between technophilia and technophobia. Based on our many collective years of empirical research, we believe there are ways for people to use technology critically and responsibly. A key is to adapt technology to local values. I have applied some of the information ecologies ideas to a consideration of the future of nanotechnology.

I recently taught Computer Science 377D,  "Ethnographic and Experimental Approaches to Usefulness and Usability," at Stanford University with my colleague Diane Schiano, Spring Quarter, 2002.

I am working on extending and refining the concept of "object" in activity theory, including notions of object instantiation and object construction.

Media Clips
CIO Magazine, April 1, 2002
CIO Magazine, March 15, 2002
ACIA, December, 2001
Computer World, September 4, 2000
Software Design and Usability, 2000
L'Ordinateur Individuel, Mai 2000
San Jose Mercury News, August 15, 1999
NYTimes June 10, 1999
USA Today, May 1999
First Monday, 1996

Activity Theory
My book Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction, The MIT Press is an edited collection that explores the use of activity theory for human-computer interaction studies. Activity theory is a psychological theory developed in the Soviet Union in the 20's, with a continuing tradition in Russia, Europe and now the U.S, Japan, and Australia. I have long felt that we need a broad unifying perspective and foundation for human-computer interaction studies and I believe activity theory provides such a foundation.

I am editing a book series, Acting with Technology, with colleagues Kirsten Foot and Victor Kaptelinin, for MIT Press. Our goal is to publish the best new books that contribute to a discussion of technology as a crucial facet of human activity enacted in  rich social and physical contexts. If you would like to propose a book for the series, please contact one of us. Our first two titles, scheduled for early 2003, are Activity-Centered Design: An Ecological  Approach to Designing Smart Tools and Usable Systems by Geri Gay, and Tracing Genres through Organizations:  A  Sociocultural Approach to Information Design by Clay Spinuzzi.

A special issue of the Journal of Computer-supported Cooperative Work on activity theory and design, guest edited by David Redmiles and me is available, CSCW, . Vol. 11, Nos. 1-2, 2002. Check out the table of contents.

If you are interested in end user empowerment, please see my book A Small Matter of Programming: Perspectives on End User Computing. Cambridge, 1993,  MIT Press.

I am on the editorial board of First Monday, a peer-reviewed online journal devoted to the Internet.

Selected Publications

Nardi, B. (2003). A Brief Introduction to Activity Theory. Forthcoming in Künstliche Intelligenz, special
issue, Wissensmodellierung und Wissenskommunikation in Lernszenarien, January 2003 (Künstliche Intelligenz is a German journal of Artifical Intelligence).

Nardi, B., Whittaker, S., Isaacs, E., Creech, M., Johnson, J., Hainsworth, J. (2002). ContactMap: Integrating Communication and Information Through Visualizing Personal Social Networks. Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. April, 2002.

Nardi, B. and Whittaker, S. (2002). The Place of Face to Face Communication in Distributed Work. In Distributed Work: New Research on Working across Distance Using Technology. P. Hinds & Sara Kiesler, eds.  Cambridge: MIT Press.

Nardi, B., Whittaker, Steve, Schwarz, Heinrich.. (2002). NetWORKers and their Activity in Intensional Networks. Journal of Computer-supported Cooperative Work. Special issue on activity theory and design, guest edited by Bonnie Nardi and David Redmiles. Vol. 11, Nos. 1-2.

Nardi, B. Coda and Response to Christine Halverson. NetWORKers and their Activity in Intensional Networks. Journal of Computer-supported Cooperative Work. Vol. 11, Nos. 1-2.

Lieberman, Henry, Nardi, Bonnie, and Wright, David. (2001). Training Agents to Recognize Text by Example, In Your Wish is My Command, Henry Lieberman, ed.,  San Francisco: Morgan Kauffman.

Nardi, B., Whittaker, S., Bradner, E. Interaction and Outeraction: Instant Messaging in Action. (2000).  Proceedings CSCW 2000.

Nardi, B., Whittaker, Steve, Schwarz, Heinrich.. It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know: Work in the Information Age. First Monday, May, 2000.

Nardi, B. and O'Day, V.  Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart. MIT Press. 1999.

Schwarz, H., Nardi, B., and Whittaker, S. (1999). The hidden work in virtual work. In Proc. International Conference on Critical Management. Winner of the MIT Siegel Prize.

Kaptelinin, V., Nardi, B. and Macaulay, C. The Activity Checklist: A Tool for Representing the "Space" of Context. interactions magazine, July, 1999.

Nardi, B. and Engeström, Y. A Web on the Wind: The Structure of Invisible Work. A Special issue of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. Bonnie A. Nardi and Yrjö Engeström, guest editors.1999. Introduction to the issue.

Nardi, B., Miller, J. and Wright, D. Collaborative, Programmable Intelligent Agents. March, 1998, Communications of the ACM. Pp. 96-104.

Nardi, B., Reilly, B., Steinbeck, R. (1998).  SIGCHI Bulletin, Vol.30 No.2, April 1998: An Online Digital Photography Course for High School Teachers.

Nardi, B. (1997). The Use of Ethnographic Methods in Design and Evaluation. In Helander, M.G., Landauer, T, and Prabhu, P. (Eds). Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction II. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science. Pp. 361-366.

Nardi, B. (1996). Concepts of Cognition and Consciousness: Four Voices. Invited paper, Australian Journal of Information Systems, 4, 1, 64-79. September. Reprinted in ACM Journal of Computer Documentation, February, 1998.

Nardi, B., O'Day, V. and Valauskas, Ed. (1996). Put a Good Librarian, Not Software, in Driver's Seat. Christian Science Monitor, June 4. Winner of the Special Libraries Association 1996 Media Award.

Nardi, B. and O'Day, V. (1996). Intelligent Agents: What We Learned at the Library. Libri, 46, 2, pp. 59-88. 1996.

Nardi, B. and Reilly, B. (1996). Interactive Ethnography: Beyond Being There. Innovation . 15, 2.

Nardi, B., ed. (1996). Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Nardi, B., Kuchinsky, A., Whittaker, S., Leichner, R. and Schwarz, H. (1996). Video-as-data: Technical and social aspects of a collaborative multimedia application. CSCW , 4, 1: 73-100. Reprinted in Video-mediated Communication, Finn, K., Sellen, A., Wilbur, S. (Eds.) 1997. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Johnson, J. and Nardi, B. (1996). Creating presentation slides: A study of user preferences for task-specific vs generic application software. TOCHI. 3, 1:1-51 (ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction).

Nardi, B., Schwarz, H., Kuchinsky, A., Leichner, R., Whittaker, S., Sclabassi, R. (1995). Turning away from talking heads: Video-as-data in neurosurgery. In S. Emmott, ed. Information Superhighways. Academic Press. Pp. 205-226.

Nardi, B. (1995). Some reflections on scenarios. In J. Carroll, ed.Scenarios as Design Representations. London: Academic Press.

Barreau, D. and Nardi, B. (1995). Finding and reminding: File organization from the desktop. SIGCHI Bulletin, July.

Nardi, B., Anderson, K. and Erickson, T. (1995). Filing and Finding Computer Files. Proceedings East-West Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. Moscow, Russia. 4-8 July 1995.

 Nardi, B. and Johnson, J. (1994). User preferences for task-specific vs. generic application software. Proceedings CHI'94. 24--28 April. Boston. Pp. 392--398.

 Nardi, B. (1993). A Small Matter of Programming: Perspectives on End User Computing. Cambridge. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Nardi, B. and Zarmer, C. (1993). Beyond models and metaphors: Visual formalisms in user interface design. Journal of Visual Languages and Computing 4, 5--33.

Johnson, J., Nardi, B., Zarmer, C. and Miller, J. (1993). ACE: A new approach to building interactive graphical applications. Communications of the ACM 36, 40--55.

Nardi, B. (1992). Studying context: A comparison of activity theory, situated action models and distributed cognition. Proceedings East-West HCI Conference. 4--8 August, St. Petersburg, Russia. Pp. 352--359.

Gantt, M. and Nardi, B. (1992). Gardeners and gurus: Patterns of collaboration among CAD users. Proceedings CHI'92. 3--7 May, Monterey, CA. Pp. 107--117.

Nardi, B. (1992). The use of scenarios in design. SIGCHI Bulletin. October.

Nardi, B. and Miller, J. (1991). Twinkling lights and nested loops: Distributed problem solving and spreadsheet development. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies 34, 161--184. (Also reprinted in S. Greenberg, ed. Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Groupware. Academic Press, London, 1991; IEEE Tutorial on CSCW, 1992; and Ron Baecker, ed. Readings in Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Mateo, CA, 1993.)

Nardi, B. and Miller, J. (1990). The spreadsheet interface: A basis for end user programming. Proceedings Interact'90. 27--31 August, Cambridge, England. Pp. 977--983.

Nardi, B. and Miller J. (1990). An ethnographic study of distributed problem solving in spreadsheet development. Proceedings CSCW'90. 7--10 October, Los Angeles, CA. Pp. 197--208.

Ciccarelli, E. and Nardi, B. (1988). Browsing schematics: Query-filtered graphs with context nodes. Proceedings Second Annual Workshop on Space Operations, Automation and Robotics. 20--23 July, Dayton, Ohio. Pp. 193--204.

 Nardi, B. and Paulson, E. (1987). Multiple worlds with truth maintenance in AI applications. In B. DuBoulay, D. Hogg, L. Steels, eds. Advances in Artificial Intelligence-II. Amsterdam: North Holland Press. Pp. 563--572.

 Nardi, B. and Simons, R. (1986). Model-based reasoning and AI problem solving. Proceedings Workshop on High Level Tools for Knowledge-based Systems. 6--8 October, Columbus, Ohio.

Nardi, B. and Reilly, B. (1996). Digital Photography at Lincoln High: An Interactive Ethnography.

5,864,789 issued Jan. 26 1999 P1717, with Henry Lieberman and David Wrights.
Submitted: IDS # 1999-0749 "Method For Providing A Communications Workspace," with Ellen Isaacs and Steve Whittaker.
Submitted IDS # 2000-0509 "System and Method for Analyzing Communications" with Ellen Isaacs and Steve Whittaker

Personal Essay
Married, mother of three.  My children are awesome. Anthony recently received a Beckman undergraduate research fellowship at UC Berkeley to continue his research on the relationship between cattle grazing and the invasion of sagebrush in montane meadows . He gets to sleep under the stars by himself on remote Sierran mountaintops and call it research. Christopher is heading to Bolivia for eight weeks this summer to work in community development in a small village as part of  Amigos de las Americas. He will live with a family and help organize the construction of something needed in the village. He finally started paying attention in Spanish class! In the fall, Christopher will be a freshman at UC San Diego. Jeanette will be in fifth grade next year and she is fluent in Spanish thanks to the language immersion programs offered in many (but not enough) public schools in California.

I attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate many moons ago and got my Ph.D. from the School of Social Science at UC Irvine. For best thinkers of the 20th century, I nominate the French sociologist Jacques Ellul, and L.S. Vygotsky, the great Russian psychologist. I deeply respect Mother Teresa, not just for her good works, but because she intuitively understood the distortions of our current technology and economy and withstood them intelligently. If you don't know the work of Remedios Varo, she appeals to many of us interested in technology.  I am currently reading about deep ecology, an environmental philosophy which proposes that we allow continued speciation of most extant species, certainly a radical idea.

Bonnie A. Nardi
Agilent Laboratories
3500 Deer Creek Road - MS 24M-A
Palo Alto, CA 94304
650 485 3473
fax 650 485 4917

Last updated October 7, 2002.