Mediatisation of Work. A History of Control Room Practice
Asher Boersma details the emergence of Dutch inland navigation control rooms and the formalisation of operator work. In this process the motives of management and those of operators (most of them former skippers) diverged. It is argued that through the mediatisation of work-shifting the observational scope from the waterscape to a configuration of interfaces-learning could be relocated, which made the work »simulatable«. Therefore, legitimate access to an ongoing community of practice was no longer controlled by operators, and no longer rooted in shipping. Thus, it is shown-through archive material, interviews and ethnography-how the move from mobile life to settled work transformed the intimacy of expertise. Not so much automation, but mediatisation changed work, both in the control room and on board of ships, and explains the botched professionalisation of operators. In neoliberal »infrastructuring«, organisational accountability comes at the cost of professional autonomy.