The Appropriation of Interactive Technologies: Some Lessons from Placeless Documents

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Abstract

Appropriation is the process by which peopleadopt and adapt technologies, fitting them intotheir working practices. It is similar tocustomisation, but concerns the adoptionpatterns of technology and the transformationof practice at a deeper level. Understandingappropriation is a key problem for developinginteractive systems, since it critical to thesuccess of technology deployment. It is also animportant research issue, since appropriationlies at the intersection of workplace studiesand design.

Most accounts of appropriation in the researchliterature have taken a social perspective. Incontrast, this paper explores appropriation interms of the technical features that supportit. Drawing examples from applicationsdeveloped as part of a novel documentmanagement system, it develops an initial setof design principles for appropriabletechnologies. These principles are particularlyrelevant to component-based approaches tosystem design that blur the traditionalapplication boundaries.