Workshop Theme

Appropriation is “the process by which people adopt and adapt technologies, fitting them into their working practices” [Dourish, 2003]. The adaptation may be semantic (i.e., change in meaning or significance of the technology in context), behavioral (novel usage patterns), or technological (changes to the technology itself) [Belin and Prié, 2012; Krischkowsky et al., 2015]. Previous workshops explored appropriation topics related to sustainability [Huh et al., 2010], communication [Krischkowsky et al., 2015; Tscheligi et al., 2014], and creativity [Salovaara et al., 2011].

Based on these successful workshops, we propose to focus on an emerging aspect of appropriation, namely appropriation by two or more users, or collaborative appropriation. While there have been a small number of papers on this aspect of appropriation [e.g., Draxler and Stevens, 2012; Quinones, 2014], we hope to strengthen this tradition by bringing together researchers, designers, and practitioners, who share their experiences, and discuss and elaborate principles to better design for collaborative appropriation. This in turn can have a positive effect on group performance and collaborative processes in a variety of different contexts, e.g., in medical practice, sustaina-bility, team performance, large-systems integration, study of invisible work, and collaborative innovation. In the following, we discuss appropriation as an important topic for CHI and CSCW and explain why the time is right to emphasize on collaborative appropriation.

First, technologies are increasingly used and adapted to collaborative use in working groups performing life-sustaining tasks [Balka and Wagner, 2006], including time-critical hospital and emergency procedures [Park et al., 2015; Sarcevic et al., 2011]. For instance in self-care, how people appropriate technology can have positive or negative effects in people’s everyday lives [Storni 2010]. As such, designing for appropriation has important implications for the design of self-care technologies [Nunes et al., 2015] to uncover and anticipate the possible dangers of using technology in unpredicted ways – or to overcome barriers to use the technology-as-designed. Furthermore, there is a need to recognize self-care as a collaborative endeavor between different heterogeneous actors (e.g., patient, relatives, clinicians) with different motivations [Grönvall and Verdezoto, 2013; Nunes et al., 2015], rather than being performed in isolation. If we understand how to make technologies and designs easier and flexible to enable appropriation in the midst of, for example, time-critical medical-team procedures (i.e., updating [Dix, 2007] for the collaborative case), then more lives may be saved.

Second, while the notion of appropriation has been discussed in HCI/CSCW communities and plays an important role in system design, this aspect has been overlooked in the sustainability domain. Although there is a shift from understanding individual behaviors to understanding everyday practices (e.g., [Strengers, 2011]), few researchers have further investigated appropriation in Sustainable HCI (e.g., [Huh et al., 2010; Frejus and Martini, 2015]). As most research in this domain has taken a narrow focus on individual users, there is a need to uncover the participation of other users in appropriating technology (e.g., family members [Snow et al., 2015]) to support their collaborative sustainability intentions.

The third major reason is that systems research studies have begun to show not only that team performance can be affected by the degree of fit of tool to collaborative task, but also the degree of configurability of the tool (e.g., [Fuller and Dennis, 2009]). Becker et al. argue that the collaborative use of a technology will have an impact on how the technology is appropriated [Becker et al., 2008]. When the members’ knowledge is shared with the group, collaborative technology adoption decisions are one of the outcomes.

Fourth, it is becoming clear that the integration of large systems may require detailed interstitial efforts, or “collaboration in-between,” which requires greater flexibility and configurability from at least one and perhaps all of the systems to be integrated [Bossen and Grönvall, 2015]. In this way, appropriation may become a system requirement for collaboration at the level of middleware. This tendency echoes earlier participatory design efforts in which communities of users reshape technology until it fits into their work [Bødker and Christiansen, 2012].

Fifth, adoption and adaptation of technologies – even when focused on an individual use – often involve highly collaborative work, which may be invisible [Draxler and Stevens, 2012; Grönvall and Verdezoto, 2013; Quinones, 2014]. Like other forms of invisible work [Star and Strauss, 1999], the study of invisible aspects of appropriation work may help us to see new patterns of collaboration, as well as helping us to revise our understanding of roles and context (e.g., [Stisen et al., 2016]) in on-going work.

Finally, a deeper understanding of designing for appropriation is critical as it may leave more freedom to the users, and may support the users’ creativity and therefore appropriation [Salovaara et al., 2011]. Through supporting appropriation by discussing the emergence of shared creative solutions, collaborative appropriation may intensify the renewal and maintenance of technologies for HCI, by prolonging their life and therefore sustaining their continued use. Users may repurpose or extend a technology, to create and identify their own novel functionalities, but the artifacts may not need to be changed [Arakelyan and Lamas, 2013].


Arman Arakelyan and David Lamas (2013). Facilitation of sustainability through appropriation-enabling-design. MIDI 2013, 5:1-5:9.

Ellen Balka and Ina Wagner (2006). Making things work: Dimensions of configurability as appropriation work. Proc CSCW 2006, 229-238.

Aaron Becker, Traci Carte, and Laku Chidambaram (2008). The effects of collaborative technology appropriation on group outcomes. Proc. DIGIT 2008, 1-14.

Amaury Belin and Yannick Prié (2012). DIAM: Towards a model for describing appropriation processes through the evolution of digital artifacts. Proc. DIS 2012, 645-654.

Susanne Bødker and Ellen Christiansen (2012). Poetry in motion: Appropriation of the world of apps. Proc. ECCE 2012, 78-84.

Claus Bossen and Erik Grönvall (2015). Collaboration in-between: The care hotel and designing for flexible use. Proc CSCW 2015, 1289-1301

Alan Dix (2007). Designing for appropriation. Proc. BCS-HCI 2007, 27-30.

Paul Dourish (2003). The appropriation of interactive technologies: Some lessons from placeless documents. JCSCW 12(4), 465-490.

Sebastian Draxler and Gunnar Stevens (2011). Supporting the collaborative appropriation of an open software ecosystem. JCSCW 20(4-5), 403-448.

Myriam Frejus and Dominique Martini (2015). Taking into account user appropriation and development to design energy consumption feedback. CHI EA 2015, 2193-2198.

Robert M. Fuller and Alan R. Dennis (2009). Does fit matter? The impact of task-technology fit and appropriation in team performance in repeated tasks. Info. Sys. Res. 20(1), 2-17.

Erik Grönvall and Nervo Verdezoto (2013). Beyond self-monitoring: Understanding non-functional aspects of home-based healthcare technology. Proc. UbiComp 2013, 587-596.

Jina Huh, Lisa P. Nathan, Six Silberman, Eli Blevis, Bill Tomlinson, Phoebe Sengers, and Daniela Busse (2010). Examining appropriation, re-use, and maintenance for sustainability. CHI 2010 EA, 4457-4460.

Alina Krischkowsky, Manfred Tscheligi, Katja Neureiter, Michael Muller, Anna Maria Polli, and Nervo Verdezoto (2015). Workshop: Experiences of technology appropriation: Unanticipated users, usage, circumstances, and design. Workshop at ECSCW 2015.

Francisco Nunes, Nervo Verdezoto, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Morten Kyng, Erik Grönvall, and Cristiano Storni (2015). Self-care technologies in HCI: Trends, tensions, and opportunities. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Inter-act. 22, 6, Article 33 (October 2015), 45 pages (In Press).

Sun Young Park, Yunan Chen, and Scott Rudkin (2015). Technological and organizational adaptation of EMR implementation in an emergency department. ACM TOCHI 22(1), Article 1.

Pablo-Alejandro Quinones. 2014. Cultivating practice & shepherding technology use: supporting appropriation among unanticipated users. Proc. CSCW 2014, 305-318.

Antti Salovaara, Kristina Höök, Keith Cheverst, Michael Twidale, Matthew Chalmers, and Corina Sas (2011). Appropriation and creative use: Linking user studies and design. CHI 2011 EA, 37-40.

Aleksandra Sarcevic, Leysia A. Palen, and Randall S. Burd (2011). Coordinating time-critical work with role-tagging. Proc. CSCW 2011, 465-474.

Stephen Snow, Dhaval Vyas, and Margot Brereton (2015). When an eco-feedback system joins the family. Pers.and Ubiq. Comp. 19(5), 1-12.

Susan Leigh Star and Anselm Strauss (1999). Layers of silence, arenas of voice: The ecology of visible and invisible work. JCSCW 8(1-2), 9-30.

Allan Stisen, Nervo Verdezoto, Henrik Blunck, Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard, and Kaj Grønbæk (2016). Accounting for the invisible work of hospital orderlies: Designing for local and global coordination. Proc. CSCW 2016. ACM (In press).

Cristiano Storni (2010). Multiple forms of appropriation in self-monitoring technology: Reflections on the role of evaluation in future self-care. IJHCI 26(5), 537–561.

Yolande A.A. Strengers (2011). Designing eco-feedback systems for everyday life. CHI 2011,2135-2144.

Manfred Tscheligi, Alina Krischkowsky, Katja Neueiter, Kori Inkpen, Michael Muller, and Gunnar Stevens (2014). Potentials of the “unexpected:” Technology appropriation practices and commun-ication needs. Proc. GROUP 2014, 313-316.