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Research Practicum: An Appreciative Approach to Understanding the Power of Tech-Talk

Below is the text of the original paper.

Click here to view an expanded version including some personal reflections on the project.

An Appreciative Approach to Understanding the Power of Tech-talk
A Research Project conducted at
The National Research Council


The purpose of this analysis is to describe and profile both the power and the most helpful uses of technical language. Through this analysis, the most helpful methods for communicating technical language as well as some suggestions for improvement will be extracted and analyzed through a method know as Appreciative Inquiry (AI). The term Core Values will be used to describe the most meaningful Characteristics of the technical-based exchange. Also, the AI process has been modified somewhat to accommodate the following: 1) the focus on technical language and the exchange between technical (computer-related only) and the "end-user" and, 2) some restrictions guiding this research project at the National Research Council.


The use of this data will be used in accordance with NRC Guidelines regarding non-sanctioned studies. It should also be noted that this study and its contents are the sole responsibility of the author, Brian Gore, and that the National Research Council has not commissioned this study nor given consent for the publication of the results. Appendix contains a memo from The Office of the General Counsel regarding specific guidelines.

Appreciative Inquiry Consultant:
Brian Gore
LRNG 792 - Spring 1999
George Mason University
Adviser - Dr. Don Lavoie

Table of Contents
Overview of Appreciative Inquiry
Organizational Profile
Analysis Methodology
Discussion and Interpretations
Possibility Propositions
Surprises and Special Learning
More Questions: A Theoretical Bent
Appendix A - Consent Form / Questionnaire
Appendix B - Electronic Responses
Appendix C - Selected Bibliography
Appendix D - Memo from General Counsel
Original Practicum Proposal

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry is a philosophy for change. It assumes that within every organization, something works. By identifying what works, change can be managed more easily through these areas that work. Rather than the traditional theory of "Change Management," that looks at/for the problem in an organization and focusing on what's wrong or broken, appreciative inquiry looks at what is right in the organization. What works is key to appreciative inquiry. The methodology for AI is simple. Through a collective gathering of employees/people, moments of success are shared and discussed, creating positive energy. Taking that positive energy and turning it into a "living process" is how AI works. Since the statements are from real people and are real experiences, the success can be repeated. This approach is used by organizations to discover, understand, and foster positive innovations in organizational processes. To apply AI the following six steps of are followed:
Step 1. Identification of organizational core values or life giving forces (LGF's). (This step takes place in a 2-3hour session with a group of about 20 people).
Step 2. Expansion of core values or LGF's using interviews designed and conducted by an AI team of consultants. (Once the core values are identified, find which ones sustain the LGF's.)(This is accomplished through the appreciative interview.)
Step 3. Thematic analysis of the data undertakes organizational analysis. (A model is developed to frame the organizational analysis. A matrix is developed and agreed upon, then the LGF's or core values are matched against organizational factors.)
Step 4. Constructing possibility propositions. (States 'what is' rather than, 'what might be'. This step recognizes and focuses on what organizational practices maximize the potential for participation. Then the 'what is' is expanded to "what might be".)
Step 5. Consensual validation of the propositions. (This is where a survey is conducted based on what was set between possibility propositions in Step 4 to gauge them, and tabulation is performed afterwards to prioritizes those propositions in the organization.)
Step 6. Creating and mandating an implementation team. (This is the most important step in the AI process. Groups must begin implementation either through individuals, teams or committees.
These six steps are a small part of the AI process. Ideally throughout the process appreciation, focus, envisioning, open dialogue and innovation are all occurring. What an organization focuses on becomes reality.

Consistent with my intention to focus on computer-related interactions between technical support people and end-users (as people who actually use computers are so labeled), some steps will be modified and the use of the terms Life Giving Forces (LGF) and core values will be substituted with the term Characteristics, to denote desirable characteristics of a technical help-related interchange from the end-user perspective.
Organizational Profile

The National Academy of Sciences is a non-profit organization chartered by the Congress of the United States in 1863, by order of the President, Abraham Lincoln. The charter requires the Academy to provide the US Government with Scientific advice. Thus the current nickname; Advisers to the Nation. Since the original charter, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council have joined the NAS to form what is now known as The Academy Complex. The National Research Council constitutes the operating arm of the Academies, and is staffed by more than 1,200 employees who provide support to the research of the Academy member's and other scholars who participate in the work of the Academy. The organization structure of the Academy is fairly complex, and organization charts depicting the Program Organization and the Administrative Organization are attached for reference. Also, you may click on the links and view the charts directly from the NAS website. Other charts depicting various organizational structures may also be viewed via links from the pages referenced above.

The President of the National Academy of Sciences also serves as Chairman of the National Research Council, and various Executive Offices serve to support the staff and program functions of the NRC. These offices include the President's Office; NRC Executive Officer; NAS Executive Officer; Office of General Counsel; Office of Congressional and Government Affairs; Office Public Understanding of Science; Office of News and Public Information. It is among these offices, along with one program unit - the Commission on Physical Sciences and Mathematics Applications - that this research was conducted.

Another fascinating element of the Academy is its academic, collegial environment, seemingly mixed with a government agency "feel" to it. Eighty percent of the studies and reports generated by this non-profit organization of scholars in the medical, engineering, and natural sciences are requested by United States government agencies. As a result, the perception is that this organization is characterized by many qualities unique to both academic institutions and government agencies alike.

The Office of Information and Technology Services (ITS) provides such services to the entire institution. One characteristic of this is that the program and administrative units of the NRC pay a tech rate for such services as computers; network connectivity; internet; computer support; Help Desk services; application development; much like a typical contractor relationship. However, technology-related employees are fully employed by the NRC just as all other NRC staff. A basic rate paid per computer residing on a user desktop provides certain services to the units. Special requests such as website development, custom application development, are paid for at a specified rate. The NRC units become "paying customers" as a result of this relationship and, as such, have high expectations. They want to be sure, and rightly so, that they receive services commensurate with the costs so associated.

Analysis Methodology

The initial methodology as outlined in the attached document entitled "Practicum Proposal", was modified to accommodate both the needs of the National Research Council staff who participated in the study as well as organizational, time, and legal restraints as provided by the Academy's Office of the General Counsel (see attached).

The original plan required the use of a "slightly modified version of a technique called Appreciative Inquiry. A summary of the process is attached. The modification extends only to the point that participants will be asked to limit their initial "stories" to those of a technical nature; experiences when technology and technology support people were helpful, and why. Normally, participants would be asked to share a generic experience illustrating when they felt valued, excited, etc.

Data Collection and Instrumentation - In the process of Appreciative Inquiry, I will gather two separate groups of ten (10) participants each to share initial stories for the gathering of themes or values related to technology-based experiences. The second phase of the study will include interviews of a separate group of twenty (20) participants to "verify" the themes. I am hopeful that some of the participants in the first phase will help to facilitate the second phase. I will need to study the impact this may have on the latter's responses.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, access to users, and some legal restrictions, the AI process was modified even further as outlined below.

Thirteen users initially committed verbally to participate in the project. The process and the intention were explained to each individual. Most expressed a sincere and enthusiastic interest in participating. Due to the constraints listed above, the initial group meeting was canceled. I then sent an E-mail to each participant that included the following:
??werPoint presentation explaining AI methodology and process
??terview Consent Form
??terview Questions
Each participant was informed of the changes to the process and the reason for this departure from that previously explained to them.

Along, with the electronic forms, I also had face-to-face conversations with five participants who did not respond to the electronic survey. Of the thirteen original participants, five responded to the electronic, five were informally interviewed face-to-face, two participants requested that they be excused from the project, and one participant left employment at the NRC and did not participate in the project at all.

Data from the electronic responses were analyzed for various themes that could be interpreted as Core Values for the purposes of the AI Model. Also extracted from the data were Characteristics, which replace the traditional AI Factors that Enhance Core Values. These Characteristics represent aspects of the technical interchanges described in the interviews. Therefore, the AI Matrix describes Values and the Characteristics of the technical interchange that Enhance those values.

Those users who did not respond to the electronic survey were asked the following triggering question:

??at about the electronic process made it challenging for you to respond?

After this initial question, some of the other questions originally on the survey were asked, but generally the conversation was allowed to flow around the difficulties I now assumed - but had not anticipated - that people had with the electronic survey. Responses to these conversations are recorded and Analyzed in the Section titled Surprises and Special Learning.

It should also be noted that even conducting informal interviews posed a time problem. All of the users are extremely busy with many managing the offices and schedules of Academy executives. Notes were not taken during these interviews in an effort to allow the process to be as natural as possible.


The results of the study were actually not very surprising. The assumptions outlined in the Practicum Proposal which prompted the study were strongly supported. However, the objective of the study was not to verify the assumptions but to provide some insights into the characteristics that compose a positive and helpful interchange between technical support personnel and the computer user.

Following is a list of Themes that I extracted from the stories shared by those who responded to the electronic survey form. An * next to an item denotes that this theme was noted more than once by a given respondent. A + means that the theme was listed by more than one respondent.

Availability (of Technology)
Productivity (Technology Increases) +
Simple English ++
Technical Terms Explained +
Learning Opportunity (for User) + *
Technical Skill (of Techie)
Team Effort (Techie and User) *
Patience + *
Understanding (of Techie)
Competence (of Techie)
Helpful Attitude
Knowledge Sharing +
In extracting the data, it was interesting to note that 4 of the 5 respondents alluded that they hoped to be a part of the process of solving the problem. One respondent stated that he/she had never received help from a technical person. This was an interesting because I have personally been involved in situations where technical help was provided to this individual. I have worked hard to not regard this as a personal affront, but I am also still trying to make some sense of this response. At some moment that "seems" right, I will ask the respondent about this answer. It is hard to tell whether the individual may have misunderstood the question or simply found it difficult to put an experience into words.

Several characteristics were verified as key elements by the five interviewees who did not respond to the electronic survey. The top four are listed on the graphic in the Discussion and Interpretations section. However, four of these five individuals shared the view that fixing the problem quickly was the most important element, and that how it was done and any learning gained was not important. As a note, from personal experience, all of these users generally prefer what we call deskside assistance in trouble situations.

Clearly the priority for people is to have their problems resolved quickly. There are certainly differences in preference as to how this occurs and much depends on the particular situation. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough data in this study to reach any concrete conclusions.
Discussion and Interpretations

Thematic Analysis/Implications

Examples of Factors that Enhance Technical Communications (Figure I)

Characteristics: ?Factors That Enhance Them:? Plain English Courtesy Knowledge Understanding of Problem by Techie/User
Attitude of Techie Helpful Patient
Attitude of User Desire to Learn Patient
Learning Opportunity
Resolution Quickly

I was disappointed when several users opted not to participate in this project after initially committing enthusiastically to the project. After some careful reading along with some insightful discussions with Dr. Lavoie, I have a better idea now of some things that may have happened. The fact that more than half of the original candidates did not participate along with some reasons that may have contributed to this have had significant impact on the study. One obvious result is that there is simply not as much data as originally anticipated. So, some of the interpretations and discussion result not only from the data but from these other factors as well. For these reasons, this discussion seems to fit best here.

As some users either did not respond in a timely manner or expressed their desire not to participate, time demanded that the process change some, as outlined earlier in this paper. The original group discussion was replaced by a standard questionnaire which was distributed electronically. I had not anticipated that the way the questions were asked would have such an impact on the response. D. Nadler made a comparison between various methods of data collection(Cummings and Worley; p.114). The four major potential problems he associates with the questionnaire method follow:
1. Nonempathy
2. Predetermined questions/missing issues
3. Overinterpretation of data
4. Response bias

One user expressed all of these problems in her response to my electronic query:
"I have not had a 'positive experience' where I understood and used technology well. I may not be the person to respond to these questions. The questions are so obviously asked in such a way that you will get positive responses only."

It seems that the restriction that seems to be placed on users by asking them to recall a situation when they understood and used technology well was flawed, and overwhelming for this user. One of my assumptions is/was that most of us do not understand technology well at all. Secondly, that my questions were geared to solicit only positive experiences also caused a problem. I had made an assumption that people would enjoy the opportunity to share positive experiences. This proved difficult for all respondents, and two users stated this specifically in slightly different ways.

Also, this method seemed to provide users a blank sheet on which they were required to provide some positive experience about the "thing" they were required to use in drafting responses: their computers. In my personal interactions with all of these users, I recognize frustration levels of varying degrees regarding the use of computer equipment. The group interaction would probably have provided a much less threatening environment and a refreshing break from their computers. We might ask who wants to talk about computers using a computer?

The NRC recently completed the organization-wide upgrade to Microsoft Office 97. For many this caused tremendous stress. WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS users are feeling particularly threatened. According to the Force-Field Analysis method, a derivative of Kurt Lewin's three-step mode of change, Group Performance Norms, Well Learned Skills, and Member Complacency are all factors in resisting change (Cummings & Worley; p.125. As a group of sensitive users, these factors must come in to play as we "force" software upgrades upon them.
These factors also appear to come into play within the context of this study. As some users recognized the real impact and intention of the research, I wonder if there was some concern that these areas might be threatened. Afterall, if we make things better as a result of our efforts, we will be accountable for that input which may require an increase of output and the learning of new skills. It is hard to say exactly what is going in people's minds without asking them directly. Even then, one would be hard-pressed to flesh out all of the root causes of behavior.

My own sense is that software upgrades threaten these areas; that discussions about how to use technology well threaten these areas; and that sharing information about what works well may be used as evidence for driving the user community further from their comfort zone. Professor Yasmin Kafai, in briefing an NRC committee assembled to address information technology literacy, stated that the term "fluency connotes the ability to reformulate knowledge, to express oneself creatively and appropriately, and to produce and generate information (CSTB/NRC; p.viii; 1999). This concept of "cluency" could potentially create some apprehension for computer users. Many already feel intimidated by the machine that occupies their desktop. But many also feel "fluent" in the processes that they have "memorized" to accomplish certain tasks. Events that appear to threaten ones fluency must certainly exacerbate any previously existing feelings.


This data along with the attending discussion and interpretations denote several significant implications, not only for the NRC but for all technical organizations that provide support to computer users. The assertion in the Practicum Proposal as originally suggested by Dr. Lavoie is that techies and users appear to be operating within a system that does not necessarily promote cooperation and understanding. In short, the road that can bridge the apparent gap between the techies and the community of computer users is certainly a two-way street.

Techies become expert in understanding how computers work and in navigating their interfaces. But, this does not require that the techie understand the business of the user. Conversely, users know what it is that they want to accomplish but have been given a tool to help without having a good grasp of how these tools work. The what and the how don't seem to always connect nicely. Computers want to "force" users into accomplishing the user's objective in a predefined way. This may account for the many forms of vain use of the name of Bill Gates.

Candace Sidner of Lotus Development Corporation admits that "today's user interfaces are just too hard to use". She continues, "they are too complex even for the narrow range of users for whom they were designed (More Than Screen Deep; p. 315). Ms. Sidner made this assertion in a Proposition Paper submitted for a study conducted by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council. Now, what chance do we have to close the gap I have discussed when an executive from the developer of Lotus Notes software makes such an admission? And who are these interfaces designed for? It appears that these interfaces were designed for a few users who "fit the profile of use for current interfaces" (NRC; p.319), whatever that really means.

Ms. Sidner suggests that the lack of research in the areas of "human discourse communication" and of "human-to-human collaboration" and thus the lack of application of these principles to the design of user interfaces contribute to their lack of usability. Dr. John Warfield, Professor at George Mason University, asserted in a lecture from his course entitled, "Resolving Complexities in Organizations, that the main problem with software to day is that it is not designed at all. Conversely, more research in these areas would "offer a means of integrating various modalities and of extending the range of computer users (NRC; p.315). She also suggest that industry will be less interested in this type of research because the payoff is questionable (NRC; p. 317). Consequently, government and institutions such as the National Research Council are in a position to make an impact in this important area. A collaboration between developers and designers may have to occur to bring us closer to interfaces that more closely resemble the natural processes of human discourse (see Possibility Propositions 6 & 7).


In many typical consulting models, this section would most likely be entitled "Recommendations". Having identified problems, the natural next step for the Consultant would be to recommend changes, or fixes for the organization's problems.

Previously, the implications and interpretation of the results of this inquiry are represented in a matrix (Figure I) which references the relationship between particular Organizational Factors and the Core Values, otherwise known as Life Giving Forces (LGF's). The results of this thematic analysis represent the status quo, or the "What Is", in the AI Model.

From this perspective then, the natural next step is to reflect "What Will Be". As the previous matrix illustrates the relationship between Organizational Factors and the LGF's, the following matrix (figure II) shows Propositions related to factors that enhance the Core Values (LGF's).

Speaking in the form of possibilities does not always translate well in technical environments. We work in a world of numbers, quantifiable and measurable define how we might gather information and what of that information is actually usable. A recent discussion regarding user surveys resulted in the rejection of the idea based on the several factors: 1) that responses would have to be read, 2) that the results would be hard to quantify and measure, 3) that many suggestions would not/could not be implemented anyway. I found this discussion frustrating to say the least. A general lack of willingness to expend some energy to connect with the community that we serve typifies many technical organizations. I would like to say service organizations, but I think that many technical organizations are just not there yet.

So, there is some qualified hope in these possibilities. And with some effort and reorienting toward a service organization, this hope may even be quantified and even measurable and some point in the future. Possibly not in the traditional methods but, who knows, the possibilities are endless!

Possibility Propositions

Matrix Illustrating Characteristics and Factors that Enhance Them (Figure II)

Characteristics: ?Factors That Enhance Them:? Language (Plain English) Courtesy Knowledge Sharing Understanding of Problem
Attitude of Techie Propositions related to Attitude T that Enhance Language Propositions related to Attitude T that Enhance Courtesy Propositions related to Attitude T that Enhance Knowledge Propositions related to Attitude T that Enhance Understanding
Attitude of User Propositions related to Attitude U that Enhance Language Propositions related to Attitude U that Enhance Courtesy Propositions related to Attitude U that Enhance Knowledge Sharing Propositions related to Attitude U that Enhance Understanding
Learning Opportunity Propositions related to LO that Enhance Language Propositions related to LO that Enhance Courtesy Propositions related to LO that Enhance Knowledge Sharing Propositions related to LO that Enhance Understanding
Timeliness Propositions related to Timeliness that Enhance Language Propositions related to Timeliness that Enhance Courtesy Propositions related to Timeliness that Enhance Knowledge Sharing Propositions related to Timeliness that Enhance Understanding
Resolution Propositions related to Resolution that Enhance Language Propositions related to Resolution that Enhance Courtesy Propositions related to Resolution that Enhance Knowledge Sharing Propositions related to Resolution that Enhance Understanding

Note the complex relationships that exist between all of the Factors and Values. Also, not all relationships include a specific example for the relationship. Those without examples are given for reference only. From this matrix I will extract the relationships which I see as having Possibilities. It may be assumed that among these other relationships, the present, or What Is", already represents What Will Be.

These possibilities will be illustrated from the matrix in the form of Possibility Propositions, as opposed to Recommendations. These Proposed Possibilities will be for the client to use as desired.

Proposition 1:
As part of the ITS philosophy, we do not assume that all computer users understand completely, nor do we expect them to, how it is that the computer technology they use works. We appreciate that for them computers are a tool, not "the job". Recognizing that computers are much easier to use if we understand some basic concepts, we provide as part of our regular "Brown Bag" training courses, a course in basic computer and network terms and functions.

Proposition 2:
We describe those who use computers to do their work as "interacter's", as opposed to mere "users". This attitude helps our technical staff to appreciate and respect those who interact with computers to accomplish the vital mission of the National Research Council. This helps us to shed a more positive light on the abilities of those interacters and on the often difficult challenges that today's computer interfaces present to them.

Proposition 3:
We are developing a short-course training program that sensitizes technical employees to the challenges faced by computer interacters. This program is intended to help technical employees appreciate that it is in fact their job to completely understand the computers that are used in the institution. Likewise, it is intended to remind technical employees that it is an unrealistic to expect all interacters (or even a majority) to understand all aspects of the computer and its operations and functions.

Proposition 4:
In helping interacters understand the often un-scientific nature of computers, we hope to create an atmosphere of patience and tolerance in resolving problem technical situations. That direct cause and effect relationships are not always clear and that troubleshooting processes can be as much intuitive as logical is a goal of this initiative. Another outcome of this proposition is a more realistic compromise to the often stated expectation: "fix it now!".

Proposition 5:
Our technical organization recognizes the community of interacters as customers. As such, each ITS employee recognize him or herself as a customer service representative. As such, a total service orientation exists which absolutely extinguishes any feelings of superiority by technical staff regarding computer interacters. Service is our motto. Customer satisfaction is the Clarion call.

Proposition 6:
The ITS organization at the NRC is so serious about customer service, it has commissioned the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board to launch a study in the areas of concern outlined in Candace Sidner's Proposition Paper as part of the NRC publication entitled "More Than Screen Deep". The two areas of focus are:
1. Principles of Human Discourse Communication
2. Principles of Human-to-Human Collaboration
All applications developed "in-house" will be designed based on the findings of such a study.

Proposition 7:
In conjunction with Proposition 6, ITS and the NRC are working actively to promote the implementation of the principles of design consistent with the study findings into future revisions of software.


The first and, possibly, most obvious conclusion is that doing research at work is a challenging task. A technical person doing research among computer users about the helpful qualities of computer-related exchanges may be considered either brave or fool-hearty! Not because the people among whom the research was conducted, but because this computer world effects everyone. And it effects everyone in different ways. Some people really love using computers to get work done. Others recognize that they cannot get their work done without them. Some want to understand them and make computers really useful tools. Others seem to look behind the computers to the people who build them at write the software they use with as sort of contempt. I can appreciate this because I have my own gripes with the design of so much software and hardware today.

Computers are everywhere. Auto mechanics use computers, attorneys use computers, scientists and clerks use computers. At the Academy, there is no shortage of highly educated people who could run circles around computer-related techies in discussions about biology or chemistry or physics. But while average person experiences these things daily, they are somewhat invisible to us. We don't have to how we breathe to do it. We don't have to know the properties of water to drink it or cleanse ourselves with it.

But everyone has a computer on his or her desk. It is an in escapable thing that sits on our desks and forces us to do things its way. And so often computer-related techies seem to take advantage of the pervasiveness of the computer in our lives. We have to use them and, in many ways, it is difficult to use one effectively if we don't have some idea of how it works. Put gas in your vehicle, turn the key, and drive along the country enjoying the view. Combustion, voltage, spark, air pressure, cooling, etc. All of these things and more make the car go. But we don't have to understand it all to drive to the grocery store or to Grandma's house. But if want to type a letter to Grandma and send it to her electronically, we may need to understand a little about how the computer works.

Not necessarily when everything is going the way we are accustomed. It is when something goes wrong that we find ourselves at the mercy of the techie. While there may be several ways to perform an operation, we may only know one of them. Knowing how the process actually works would provide us with the knowledge to try a new of doing something that may work. Then again, maybe not.

Clearly, many are convinced that they do not, cannot, and never will understand computers. As a Techie, I am not sure that I do either. But something in my training and experience guides me through a process of trying a new way if something isn't working right. Computers are a tool, just like a car. And we expect those tools to work properly, and that is fair. We may also wish that they would work the way we want them to and they may never happen. Because people learn differently, like and dislike different things, etc., it is unrealistic to think that this will ever happen. But it appears that these expectations often cause us some difficult in the computer revolution era. Computers also generally do what we tell them to do. And they don't always respond well when we tell them to do something that they are not programmed to do. They will never understand us, so our only choice seems to be to try and understand them. Scary!!

Here is an example: An individual was working in a Microsoft Access database. This database had tables and forms. A nice feature allows a user to sort by form. So, while looking at a table, one users attempted to use the Sort by Form feature. Unfortunately, tables are populated by Fields, not Forms. So this function did not work. Well it did sometimes. That was the strange part. This should have NEVER worked in this way. But because it had somehow worked once or twice, the perception when it did not work was that the software, well, wasn't working. It was enlightening for all of us as we learned more about this. So, a frustration that was initially blamed on bad software (and I agree on the point that the function should never work so as not to confuse users regarding its proper use), was merely a result of not having a clear and broad view of how a database works. So, while one may be able to enter data and create a database, interacting effectively with that data may require some deeper conceptual understanding of how databases actually work.

So, can we conclude that all users are dummies and don't understand computers? I don't think that would be fair. The computer revolution is moving rapidly and changes daily the way people do their work. People who provide computer support normally understand technology well. People who use technology to try and do their jobs understand their business function very well. But where do the two meet? This is what I am not sure of. We have some more questions to ask, but hopefully this is a good start on the path to bridging the gap between technology and those who support it, and those who use it everyday, often under extremely frustrating circumstances, to accomplish their work.

Surprises and Special Learning

As this section title suggests, I was surprised by several aspects of this study and, consequently, have learned some things I had not anticipated. I also have several unanswered and, in many cases, still unformulated questions. I will make no intentional attempt to draw any conclusions in this section. Rather, I wish to share some of these surprises, learnings, and questions with a hope that this will generate some more discussion that may not only help to fill in gaps in this paper, but also to assist with research processes that may have helped to avoid some of the difficulties of this study. However, I do believe that some of the surprises I encountered may be associated with the technology system that we function and cannot be attributed solely to any flaws in the approach.

As stated elsewhere, I was surprised by the shift of enthusiasm for the project by people who had originally committed to participate. I am not angry with these individuals, but I hope that somewhere along the way I can get a better handle on "what happened" that "caused" individuals to withdraw from the study. My initial impression - and resulting from a limited conversation with one user - is that the change in process form group interaction to electronic survey format had an impact on some people's willingness to participate. I have not been able to verify this with those individuals and, because of my work relationship with them, may never feel able to approach this topic. I will be open to opportunities as they arise.

Another surprise, and hopefully a learning, was the response by some who stated that they had never had a positive experience using technology and/or with a technical help person. My initial gut reaction to this was along the lines of personal offense. I know that I have helped all of these individuals to some degree with technology. But I was asking the question from my perspective and so, as I reflected on this, recognize that I may have simply asked the question in a way that did not carry the same meaning for them as it did for me. Was it the way the question was phrased, or the format provided for answering the question? One nagging question for me is what results may have been afforded had the original plan for a group session actually occurred? My assumption is/was that as individuals shared positive stories that others would also have been able to "piggy-back" on the stories of others. In this sense they may have realized that they do share positive experiences and that interaction with others may have brought those to light.

On the other hand, it is possible that many do not feel that a computer can be a medium for a positive experience. I don't know what basis I have for that feeling except that in my interactions with many computer users, there seems to be an almost constant, antagonistic "relationship" that exists between user and machine. A near-hatred for the computer seems to hang like a shroud over one's ability to recognize the computer as a powerful tool and a useful facilitator of certain activities that would otherwise be much more difficult to accomplish. Among many users, however, talking on the telephone, and face to face conversation are really the "tools of the trade". In this context, the computer may be seen as a hindrance to the more human-oriented, natural course of communication.

More Questions: A Theoretical Bent

This paper highlights some very strong relationships between technical support people and those who use computers, along with characteristics that help (or hinder) the communicative process between the two groups of people. But, simply, there is not enough data to make the solid conclusions along with some possibilities that would satisfy me and my academic adviser while also preserving the integrity of this study and that of the research process as well.

So, there are still many questions to ask. This section is intended to provide some theoretical basis for some of the actions described along with conclusions. Some historical background will also shed some light on the progression of technological impact in society. This should be a fascinating journey that will not only serve to fill in some gaps in this paper, but to serve as a catalyst for asking some deeper questions in trying to sort out what appears often to be a cultural clash. Not only between technical people and the users of that technology but also the intrusion of technology into our social systems, changing completely many ways that we function and even the way we think about the world around us.

In his book titled Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Neil Postman illustrates the impact of technology on societies through Plato's story of Thamus and his interaction with the god Theuth. Theuth had invented several useful tools such as number, calculation, geometry, astronomy, and writing (Postman). Theuth displayed his inventions before the king Thamus, who inquired as to their purpose and use. From Socrates the story goes as follows:

"Thamus ??dged Theuth's claims to be well or ill founded" and "is reported to have said for and against each of Theuth's inventions. But when it cam to writing, Theuth declared, 'Here is an accomplishment, my lord the King, which will improve the wisdom and the memory of the Egyptians. I have discovered a sure receipt for memory and wisdom.' To this, Thamus replied, 'Theuth, my paragon of inventors, the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practice it. So it is in this; you, who are father of writing, have out of fondness for your off-spring attributed to it quite the opposite of its real function. Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of by their own internal resources. What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. And as for wisdom, your pupils will have the reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant. And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society."

Of course, Thamus judged Theuth's "invention" of writing to be a burden while appearing to miss the potential benefits of this discovery. It is fascinating to note their completely opposite perspectives toward this technology. Theuth was enthralled with his invention, while Thamus saw only the downside. Donald Norman describes this phenomena in terms of a machine-centered view of technology and a human-centered view of technology (Norman, p.9). In this case, Thamus was probably over zealous in his wholesale condemnation of the art. Yet, the contrast between the two points of view is undeniable. And the point is well taken and worthy of discussion. Clearly, one side often only recognizes the benefits while the other may only be able to recognize the criticisms. While both are probably valid, they are not sufficient to stand alone. As Thamus and Theuth needed then, and as our techno-culture certainly does today, a recognition of the total impact of any technology on society is vital.

The case for computer technology is no different today. Writing was sold by Theuth as a tool for increasing memory, etc. Actually, the opposite is true. Writing, and computers as well, may be viewed as crutches that allow us to forget things with the knowledge that we can retrieve them later. This should not be viewed necessarily as a judgment, for I highly value both writing and the ability to use a computer. It is obviously important to note that any technology will certainly deliver some benefits, but should not be accepted with one's proverbial eyes closed! The impact of technology cannot be measured only in terms of contribution. This crutches metaphor may be also substituted for more favorable ones. Conversely, computers should also allow us to know less, because so much knowledge becomes "embedded" over time. Instead of the computer being looked at as a crutch that allows us to remember less, it may be viewed as a tool that should allow us to remember less, but doesn't always work well.

Gutenberg, for example, perfected the printing press, allowing the Bible to be made available to a much larger audience (Postman). Gutenberg surely did not anticipate was the newly found ability of people like Martin Luther to use this technology and its resulting mass-produced book of scripture to poke holes in the religious thinking of the day. Had he anticipated this, would he have proceeded as he did? As Theuth, he only saw what he defined as the good that would result from his invention without - and probably without all the information necessary to do so - considering what he may perceive as undesirable effects resulting from this new technology.

There are hundreds of examples of technologies which came about as mankind searched to better his lot in life. The clock, for example, came about as Monks sought to keep a tight schedule for prayer and ritual. As we all know, much of our lives are now regulated by the clock. Time and motion studies, with the clock as the central figure, were meant to help business become more efficient and produce more. This contribution is indisputable. But what has happened to the worker as a result? This represents the qualitative element that is so often missing at the launch of new technology and, possibly even more critical, missing as technologies make their weak effort at assimilating into our societies.

Computers do not work the way we work. They do not think at all, but if they did, the process would be much different than our own. And, somehow, this is judged worthy of our acceptance and even our giving in to the demands of the technology. Truly we must question the value of a tool that is not molten with our own hands with our own needs in mind! From the machine-centered perspective (Postman, p.17), the infallible technology provides a form of "unreal knowledge" to the technocrat. But how long will this so-called knowledge be held in such high esteem? Along a similar vein, Donald Norma admits, "??at technology aids our thoughts and civilized lives, but it also provides a mind-set that artificially elevates some aspects of life and ignores others, not based upon their real importance but rather by the arbitrary condition of whether they can be measured scientifically and objectively by today's tools" (Norman, p.15). Likewise in the words of Thamus to Theuth, "the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practice it" (Postman, p.4). It certainly would not take a genius to see who is preaching the value of computer technology today! But, if anyone needs any help, software vendors and manufacturers of computer hardware are leading the cheering section touting the value of their "wares"!

So, what does this discussion have to do with the communication between technical people and the end-user of computers today? From my perspective in a technical support role, this knowledge as power issue provides a strong base from which to operate. An arrogance and even a disconnect from reality (Norman?) is pervasive among technical people. The clash between the machine-centered micro-world and the reality of the human-centered world is stark and often intense. I submit then that much of our communication problems stems not necessarily from a purposeful plot on the part of the technician to exercise some power and control over those who use the technology. Rather, there seems to a problem built into the very nature of technology, why we seek and deploy it, how it is administered, and who understands it.

In our growing world of Knowledge Workers, one world of knowledge that strings possibly all others together is the computer world. So, is it any wonder that some arrogance may exist in the technical world. Opposed to an interdependent relationship, so many fields rely on computer technology to accomplish their work. "You can't work without us and our machines" the computer workers may say. And everyone knows it. Not that this attitude is intentional, the value of technical people can effect the relationship they manage with users.

In my organization, a five-thousand dollar reward is available to those who recommend a technical employee who is hired and remains for at least 6 months. This incentive - while possibly necessary - sends a powerful message to the supposed non-technical world. There is no incentive program to recommend experts in the fields of biology, chemistry, or any of the social sciences. While these fields represent the work of the organization, and there are programs to recruit individuals with these skills, the 5 Grand associated with the successful recruitment of a technical employee confirms our suspicions: that technical people are highly valued. And while this is not necessarily a bad thing, the assumptions that technical people make more money and the fact that the organization is willing to pay such an amount for the recruitment of technical employees enhances negative perceptions and aids in widening the gap that seems to already exist between the technical world and the users of that technology.

The following is an excerpt from Howard Rheingold's Homepage and seems appropriate here. This experience affirms the concerns of the mythological character Thamus:

It's a good thing I chose the first week of June to visit Intercourse, PA, to ask Amish people how they make their rules about tools. Two weeks later, two young Amish males in that vicinity -- "Abner Stoltzfus and Abner King Stoltzfus (no relation)" -- were busted for buying cocaine from the Pagans motorcycle gang and distributing it through Amish youth groups. For a couple of days, reporters from everywhere were in Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand, Gordinville, and Gap. It wasn't easy finding people who would be willing to speak to me before the bust. It would be impossible now.

My brief excursion into the Amish philosophy of technology is in the process of becoming a magazine article, so I probably won't put the full narrative here for a while, but I do want to share a few tidbits that struck me. I visited an Amish-run machine shop -- a place that uses machines, powered by diesel and hydraulic power rather than electricity, to make machines. The owner-operator wore the plain black Amish uniform and the Abe Lincoln beard without a moustache. He handed me a reprint of an interview with Jaron Lanier when I asked him about his philosophy of technology: "I agree with this guy," he said,
"especially the part about it not being possible to build something foolproof, because fools are so clever."

This fellow, call him Abner, looked me in the eye and said: "We don't stop with asking what a tool does. We ask about what kind of people we become when we use it."

It is probably fair to say that much of our society stops at asking what the tool does, and then we wait for the implications to manifest themselves later. But is it too late then? Should we ask these questions sooner in an effort to design tools - computers and software in this case - in ways that allow them to function in more human, and humane, ways? And here is something to think about:

"A systematic rejection of
subjectivity in the name of a
mythical scientific objectivity
continues to reign..."

So the cry for objectivity often drowns out the voice that may be trying to scream, as Abner above asks, "wait, what will we become when we use it (new technology?)? This creates problems in many aspects of our lives both morally and otherwise. Objectivity is equated with open-mindedness while questions of why or what or how are viewed as evidence of an old-fashioned mindset that is outdated and needs to be cast out. So, is it surprising that when computer users raise questions or express frustrations that there is often no one there to hear them? The answer is "keep up with progress". And while we should progress, there are many working definitions regarding what progress is.

I experimented with some other graduate students on the use of virtual worlds as a way of transferring knowledge. There were powerful experiences associated with this effort. One thing that rang clear was the fact that while the experiences were virtual, not real, the emotions and effects of those experiences were very real indeed. In sharing my experience with some friends, a mother of four children told me that her children were trying to learn how to communicate with each other. This struck me as profound. We are asking an electronic tool for communicating in ways that we may not be capable of doing otherwise. Is this good? Is it bad? Can we really ask a tool to help us accomplish something that we haven't figured out? I wonder if some frustration comes from using a tool that is a weak substitute for the way that humans naturally interact, but that we find difficult to do regardless!

Lest this sound to some like technology-bashing - which it is not meant to be - an excerpt form an article written by Howard Rheingold should help to clarify my view here, which I now share with Mr. Rheingold. As he articulates:

How do we find new modes of perceiving technology, new ways to think about, design, and use tools? How can we develop more conscious means for democratic societies to make decisions about technologies? The next step beyond access to tools is access to understanding how to use them. In what directions does that step proceed? How do we start learning to look at the world of technology, and our places in it, in new ways? Before we can hope to achieve answers, we must elevate the level of discourse from an argument between tree-huggers and nuke-lovers. The world is more complicated than that. We need richer, more widespread, less simplistically polarized discourse about technology and social issues, because that is the only kind of environment where viable solutions are likely to emerge (Rheingold)

This ideal really will not be able to happen without some cooperative discourse between those who discover and enable technology and those who will eventually use it. Or maybe the nature of those who do the discovering needs to change. Daily I here people say they don't understand technology and could never do what I do. I find this somewhat odd given the extraordinary things some of these people do in their own fields. I wonder what the obstacles are that limit the power of great minds to discovering things that we feel unqualified to do? Certainly if the user has more to say about what is useful the tool would expectedly be more useful. Right? There appear to be some disconnects regarding to who is deciding who needs what.

However, Jerry Mander describes what he calls a pro-technology paradigm in his book, In the Absence of the Sacred. This model assumes that technology is neutral and that its affects are determined only by people. He describes this as pervasive and dangerous. Interestingly, Mander makes a connection "between the advances of modern technological society and the plight of indigenous peoples around the world". He suggests that these are the very people who are best equipped to help us out of our fix, if only we'd let them be and listen to what they say." The model of deep listening - even some shallow listening would be a good start - could do much in the way of not only creating technology that is more useful and helpful (and maybe less harmful) but also in narrowing what is often a deep communication chasm that separates the technical people of the world and those who they are employed to help and support!

Howard Rheingold has also interpreted some of Calvin's writings on evolution in some interesting ways regarding technology. One piece of "evidence" that he cites seems to suppose that humankind's penchant for change is "hardwired". Or, that we somehow are predisposed with an "urge to alter things". We might assume form this that our chase for things to improve our lives, or even to simply try new things is built in. But I wonder if what it is that individuals are interested in altering varies so dramatically that we find two groups - mentioned previous - that seem to clash: the technophiles and the technophobes. Or is it that we search for things and when someone "finds" something useful we all want to try it, possibly without thinking ahead of its potential impact or our looming over-dependence on the thing? Langdon Winner, in his book entitled, Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of-Control as a theme in Political Science, states that "technical systems become severed from the ends originally set for them and, in effect, reprogram themselves and their environments to suit the special conditions of their own operation. the artificial slave gradually subverts the role of its master". Clearly someone does this, not the machines. But the system certainly does include both man and machine.

We must ask as Thamus did who should judge the value of the new technology and the sum of its whole impact on society. It seems in the technical environment that is so pervasive today that the field is set up for the technophiles to win, with the phobes coming out on the losing end. Or at least they may perceive this anyway. And perception is reality, isn't it! Thus in this environment that now demands that we bend our will to that of the methods employed by those machines supposedly built to aid us in our work, what or who is serving what or who? And while the tool is still useful, we may also ask whether we are driven by technology or whether it is really being pushed by us to where we want to go? Or is that we go where technology wants us to go? If this sounds discombobulated it should. So many seem to feel this stress and anxiety around the very computers that are created as tools. But without good design and rife with constraints and narrow conditions for their successful use, no wonder that often those employed to help the user get caught in this same metaphorical bind. Can the technical person unwittingly become a representation of the very thing that causes the anxiety?

Appendix A - Consent Form/Questionnaire


Brian Gore is completing a Master's Degree in a George Mason University program titled Organizational Learning and is required to do a project for completion. The purpose of the project is to do an organizational analysis using a new methodology called appreciative inquiry. The project should normally provide valuable insights about the organizational dynamics of the firm and generate concrete propositions that are based on the core values of the organization.

Your participation in this project is requested. If you participate, you will be interviewed using variations of the questions listed on the next page. The interview may be audio-taped (optional) and transcribed for later analysis. The information will be used in writing a project report and turned in to the professor as an assignment. Should the results of this project be published in the future, the permission of the organization will be sought. If your organization requests a copy of the project report, it will be given to a designated person who may share the findings with you.

This project will be performed according to George Mason University procedures governing your participation in this research. The student's Adademic Adviser is Professor Don Lavoie, who may be reached at 703 993 1142 for questions. You may also contact the George Mason University Office of Sponsored Programs at 703-993-2295, if you have any questions or comments regarding your rights as a participant in this research.

I have read this form and agree to participate in this project.

________________________________ _____________

Appreciative Inquiry questions that will be used in the interviews
1) Think about a few recent positive experiences you have had in this organization. Describe one such event when you felt you understood and used technology well.
Follow-up questions
a) What made it a significant positive experience? Or, What is it about the experience that you continue to cherish?
b) What did you learn from that experience?

2) Name an event where a technical person was particularly helpful. (outstanding/highly successful). What did s/he do?
Follow-up questions
What did you admire in her/him?
a) How has that (what s/he did) contributed to the success of the organization?
b) What kind of language did he/she use?
3) What are your images for the successful use of technology? What would you like to contribute to make that happen?
4) Tell me something about what attracted you to this organization? How did you start out? What were your initial excitements and impressions?
5) Several people in your organization have identified ______ as a core value. Can you tell me something more about it?

Appendix B - Electronic Responses

Following are transcripts of the electronic responses to the survey questions. The original question is listed followed by the answers given by respondents.

1) Think about a few recent positive experiences you have had in this organization. Describe one such event when you felt you understood and used technology well.

Brian: I have not had a "positive experience" where I understood or used technology well. I may not be the person to respond to these questions. The questions are so obviously asked in a way that you will get positive responses only.

A recent positive experience was updating and designing webpages for three units. I was asked to modify existing sites to update information, make the sites easier to maintain, and/or to make the sites more usable for readers.

Our office inadvertently deleted the data in one of our databases. It was a significant amount of data that was entered over the course of an entire year. To recreate the data would have been an enormous amount of work. We contacted the help desk and requested a file restore from the backup tape. However, it didn't work and the data wasn't restored. One member of our office was frustrated and began reentering the lost data. The other member of the office and I felt that we should try the file restore again. I contacted the help desk and explained the situation. After discussing the sequence of events, the person from the help desk determined what went wrong on the first attempt and arranged a second file restore that worked. We were all very relieved that we recovered our data and avoided a tremendous amount of extra work.

My boss and I were working on a form in Access and I learned a few new ideas in making the form more user friendly. I used that experience to complete the form and prepare it for the person who will enter the data.

a) What made it a significant positive experience? Or, What is it about the experience that you continue to cherish?

This was a positive experience because it allowed me to be creative, while balancing amount of information with ease-of-use.

The fact that the technology worked and saved us so much time and effort. It was a particularly gratifying experience for me because it involved working with someone to solve a problem. The help desk person and I were able to solve a problem by effective communication and patience.

I love to learn new things, especially in databases, and it is nice to know that people are willing to share their knowledge.

b) What did you learn from that experience?

I improved my understanding of html coding (which I had previously been encouraged to learn on the job), how to work with the relevant units to figure out what information they wanted available, how to design the sites so they will be easy to maintain for people without an html background, and how to prioritize the information to determine what should be posted.

That technology is more effective when there is good communication between IT providers and users, and patience and understanding as well.

Mainly the technical knowledge of fitting combo boxes with typed in options as opposed to combo boxes linked to queries of tables. Also new ideas of how to make to form easier to input data.

2) Name an event where a technical person was particularly helpful. (outstanding/highly successful). What did s/he do?

Though it did not have a huge impact, one such event was when a coworker developed a macro to fix formatting errors in Microsoft Word. They then distributed the macro and described how to install it.

I have to use the same event as above because I'm relatively new to the Academy (9 months service) and have not had a lot of contact with IT folks. She was able to arrange for a file to be restored from the backup tape. This was after an initial file restore failed.

I am sorry to say I have no such experience.

What did you admire in her/him?

I was impressed by the person's willingness to attempt to write such a macro (they are not a trained programmer, just someone who saw a software need and fixed it).

Her competence and willingness to work with me to solve the problem.

a) How has that (what s/he did) contributed to the success of the organization?

While it has not contributed widely, the macro can save a fair amount of time when handling text either pulled from the Internet or received from outside sources. The time alleviates very boring work and allows one to spend it more effectively.

Her assistance saved our office a considerable amount of time that would have been expended in recreating the lost data.

b) What kind of language did he/she use?

When I was given the macro, the author explained to me in plain language what each line of the macro was doing, then attempted to explain the programming code used to accomplish it. I understand fully how the macro works, though I would not be able to duplicate the writing of the program. How to install the macro was clearly described.

She used mostly non-technical language, which facilitated effective communication between us. Of course, the problem was not very technical in nature. However, I had the feeling that, even if it were a very technical issue, she would have been able speak to me in a way that would be understandable.

3) What are your images for the successful use of technology? What would you like to contribute to make that happen?

I believe that making technology successful depends on the amount of time the creators of the technology take into account the end use. It is equally useless to have a wonderful technology that users cannot figure out as it is to have an easy-to-use technology that no one needs. Similarly, if the technology is not widely disseminated, or at least advertised, to the user community, it is useless. I try to make people aware of helpful functions in known technology and spread the word when I hear about new useful technologies.

The effective delivery of technical support to end-users is, obviously, the most important element for the successful use of technology in an organization. My contribution to make this a reality is to understand that the IT Dept and the end-users are a team, both working toward the same objective. The relationship should not be one of, "us against them".

Logical and precise dissemination of information, improving medical care and education in general

4) Tell me something about what attracted you to this organization? How did you start out? What were your initial excitements and impressions?

The nature of science policy and combination of writing with science attracted me to the organization. My initial impressions had to do with the quality of the staff members and committee volunteers, the amount of non-scientific office work done, and the ease of communication with people within the Academy complex.

I was familiar with the Organization and was impressed by its stature and reputation. I am most impressed with the fact that the studies that are undertaken by the Academy affect virtually every aspect of our lives. I also feel that this is a very good place to work, both in terms of compensation / benefits and quality of working conditions and workspace.

It is fun to work with the Academy members. I started at the Annual Meeting and had a chance to meet about 200 members and listen to interesting lectures.

Appendix C - Selected Bibliography

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board; National Research Council, "Being Fluent with Information Technology," National Academy Press, 1999.
Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning; National Research Council, "How People Learn: Brain, Mind, experience, and School," Innovative Adult Learning With Innovative Technologies, Bransford, Brown, & Cocking (eds.), National Academy Press, 1999.
Steering Committee, CSTB, National Research Council, "More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure," National Academy Press, 1997.
Lavoie, Don Dr., Lecture notes and personal discussions, 1998-1999
Cox, Brad Dr., Lecture notes and personal discussion, 1998
Postman, Neil, Technopoly: The Surrendering of Culture to Technology, Alfred A. Knopf, 1993
Norman, Donald A., Things That Make Us SMART: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine, Addison-Wesley, 1993
Rheingold, Howard, Rheingold's Rant, http://www.rheingold.com/rants/
Mander, Jerry, Resisting the Machine, http://www.beacham.com/mander/mander_radio.html

Appendix D - Memo from NRC Office of the General Counsel

To: Suzanne Woolsey@NAS
cc: Jim Wright@NAS
Subject: Re: Research Project - Help


If you're inclined to grant approval, I would recommend that Brian observe the following conditions:

1. Any use of Academy computers and related equipment should be limited in nature and should occur during non-working hours, and in all other respects, be consistent with the institution's policies, including the policy on Access to Information and Use of Equipment Owned by the Academy Complex (HRP&P 600.10) and policies on time-keeping. The institution, consistent with its policies, reserves the right to review the situation and to determine at any point that any use of this nature constitutes an unreasonable cost or burden to the institution.

2. All individuals asked to participate by Brian, in addition to signing the consent form he has indicated he will use, should be expressly informed that their participation is voluntary, that the study is neither sponsored or endorsed by the institution, and that if they decide to assist Brian in this endeavor, they should do so during non-working hours.

3. Any resulting written report, whether published or not, should carry an express disclaimer that the study was neither sponsored or endorsed by the institution and that the results, conclusions, opinions expressed in the report are solely those of the author.

4. Brian's consent form indicates that publication of the report would require permission of the institution. In considering any request, any publication would require compliance with the Guidelines for Staff Publications in Non-NRC Publications.