Our workshop aims at identifying and reflecting upon experiences concerning actual technology appropriation. We are looking for successful stories of technology appropriation to satisfy particular user’s needs as well as unsuccessful stories around technology disappropriation [Carroll, 2004] giving examples of how technology did not meet particular user’s needs. Interrelating such technology appropriation experiences with the actual context of use is of specific importance to understand the situated nature of interaction [Kaye, 2006].

Research has shown that everyday practices may affect how newly introduced technology is shaped, adapted, and adopted to one’s needs [Bødker and Polli, 2014]. Besides investigating everyday appropriation practices in private contexts (e.g., [Akah and Bardzell, 2010], [Grönvall and Verdezoto, 2013], [Hess et al., 2012]), also ‘traditional’ business settings (e.g., [Bossen and Dalsgaard, 2005], [Muller et al., 2012]) and highly challenging and specific contexts beyond these traditional work and office environments (e.g., [Balka and Wagner, 2006]) have been in the focus of research. However, in order to provide an informed basis [Salovaara et al., 2011] of how to design for the ‘unexpected’ it is important to understand, and conceptualize these application contexts [Bossen and Dalsgaard, 2005], and to reflect upon appropriation practices [Bødker and Polli, 2014] within these respective contexts.

Within our own research, we came to understand that technology appropriation happens in unrestricted and restricted contexts (characterized by strict regulations defined to avoid appropriations) for various reasons that were not anticipated, i.e., due to unfulfilled communication needs. Draxler et al. ( p. 2835) highlighted that appropriation is “highly cooperative, situated, socially embedded, and often connected to particular work situations”. Considering that technology adaptation is mostly performed between colleagues or peers [Draxler et al., 2012], appropriation may be seen as a social activity itself, embedded in specific context-related situations.

Whereas appropriation may be considered as a social phenomenon itself, our workshop specifically strives to explore technology appropriation for meeting social purposes, i.e., communication. Thereby, we consider both (dynamic) technology systems (e.g., social media) and the (seemingly passive) artifacts within those systems (e.g., shared documents), as sites for communicative appropriation. Our discussion is focused on (but not limited to) the following four aspects of appropriation.

One aspect of appropriation is unanticipated usage in the sense of identifying ‘unexpected’ communication requirements by looking at users’ appropriation behavior. Here, communication needs that were satisfied through appropriating the technology may be regarded as ‘successful’. However, also ‘unsuccessful’ appropriations are relevant and interesting to study as they might help people and designers to understand and reflect about the appropriation phenomenon.

A second form of appropriation may occur with the unanticipated users themselves. Groups of people who were never anticipated by the system designers may appropriate collaborative technologies in either anticipated or unanticipated ways. Such users may have significant impact on practices surrounding the system in question [Quinones et al., 2013]. Here, an interesting aspect may be to investigate if and how such unanticipated users are linked to respective unexpected uses (e.g., [Henderson and Kyng, 1991], [Quinones et al., 2014], [Quinones et al., 2013]). These instances are of high relevance for a comprehensive understanding of appropriation and will also be discussed in the workshop.

We want to accentuate that people sometimes have exactly the right tool at hand ‘to get things done’, but it often happens that specific circumstances are not (or cannot be) anticipated and people need to work with the tools/resources that are available (e.g., people emailing themselves web links whilst browsing instead of using a bookmark) [Dix, 2007]. Sometimes, people even use a different and somewhat inappropriate technology to deal with unanticipated circumstances (e.g., instead of making a photocopy, taking a photo of a map and using that photo in place of a paper map) [Salovaara, 2012]. What differentiates ‘unanticipated circumstances’ from ‘unanticipated use’ is that people would take the appropriate technology if it would be available (e.g., photocopier) whilst instead improvising to get things done (e.g., using the camera).

Carroll [2004] and Dix [2007] emphasize that “design can never be complete” as it is not possible to design for the ‘unexpected’, but that “you can design to allow the unexpected”. Similar design approaches with a strong focus on appropriation are “continuous design and redesign” [Jones, 1983], “continuing design in use” [Henderson and Kyng, 1991], and meta-design “designing for design after design” [Ehn, 2008]. In consequence, little research exists that proposes precise design requirements that are based on observations of unexpected use [Quinones et al., 2013]. However, appropriation practices themselves can be seen as constituting the basis for the design and implementation of technology innovations [Carroll, 2004]. These appropriation practices are part of ongoing design processes [Ehn, 2008] that may be considered consequently as an essential and positive phenomenon in system design ([Carroll, 2005], [Dix, 2007], [Kaye, 2006]). In line with this viewpoint, our workshop is not aiming to derive precise design implications, but to reflect on experiences with such ‘unexpected’ communication needs.

The main objective of this one-day workshop is to gain an in-depth understanding about how users adapt and shape technology to their needs to match their individual communication purposes. By the end of the workshop, we aim to have a collection of  experiences from organizers and participants with regard to (but not exclusively) the four above-mentioned aspects of appropriation. Therefore, the workshop addresses the following goals and questions.

    Identifying appropriation practices:

  • What appropriation practices can be identified that aim at satisfying communication needs?
    Interrelating appropriation practices with communication needs:

  • How has the technology been appropriated to fit particular communication needs?
  • What ‘unexpected’ communication needs can be extracted from these examples?
    Embedding practices and needs into the context of action:

  • In what way have technologies been ‘domesticated’ in different contexts?
  • How does the technology fit into the already existing ecology of devices?
  • How do specific contexts with their inherent characteristics entail certain communication channels that can lead to these specific technology appropriations?
    Deriving an informed basis for research & design:

  • What are the potentials these experiences hold regarding the design of such technologies?


Akah, B., Bardzell, S. 2010. Empowering products: personal identity through the act of appropriation. In Proc. CHI EA’10. ACM. 4021-4026.

Balka, E., Wagner, I. 2006. Making things work: dimensions of configurability as appropriation work. In Proc. CSCW ’06). ACM. 229-238.

Bødker, S., Polli, A.M. 2014. Between Initial Familiarity and Future Use: A Case of Collocated Collaborative Writing. In Proc. COOP’14, 2014.

Bossen, C., Dalsgaard, P. 2005. Conceptualization and appropriation: the evolving use of a collaborative knowledge management system. In CC’05, Olav W. Bertelsen, Niels Olof Bouvin, Peter G. Krogh, and Morten Kyng (Eds.). ACM. 99-108.

Carroll, J. 2004. Completing Design in Use: Closing the Appropriation Cycle. In Proc. ECIS 2004, Turku, Finland, 11 pages. Paper 44.

Dix, A. 2007. Designing for appropriation. In Proc. of the 21st British HCI Group Annual Conference on People and Computers. BCS-HCI’07. British Computer Society. UK. 27-30.

Draxler, S., Stevens, G., Stein, M., Boden, A., Randall, D. 2012. Supporting the social context of technology appropriation: on a synthesis of sharing tools and tool knowledge. In Proc. CHI’12. ACM. 2835-2844.

Ehn, P. 2008. Participation in design things. In Proc. Participatory Design 2008. 92-101.

Grönvall, E., Verdezoto, N. 2013. Beyond self-monitoring: understanding non-functional aspects of home-based healthcare technology. In Proc. of Pervasive and ubiquitous computing.

Henderson, A., Kyng, M. There’s no place like home: continuing design in use. J. Greenbaum, M. Kyng (Eds.), Design at Work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems, Lawrence Erlbaum, USA (1991), 219–240.

Hess, J., Ley, B., Ogonowski, C., Reichling, T., Wan, L., Wulf, V. 2012. New technology@home: impacts on usage behavior and social structures. In Proc. EuroiTV’12. ACM. 185-194.

Jones, J. C. (1983). Continuous design and redesign. Design Studies4, 1. 53-60.

Kaye, J. 2006. I just clicked to say I love you: rich evaluations of minimal communication. In Proc. CHI EA’06. ACM. 363-368.

Muller, M., Ehrlich, K., Matthews, T., Perer, A., Ronen, I., Guy, I. 2012. Diversity among enterprise online communities: collaborating, teaming, and innovating through social media. In Proc. CHI’12. ACM. 2815-2824.

Quinones, P. A. 2014. Cultivating practice & shepherding technology use: supporting appropriation among unanticipated users. In CSCW’14. ACM. 305-318.

Quinones, P. A., Teasley, S. D., Lonn, S. 2013. Appropriation by unanticipated users: looking beyond design intent and expected use. In Proc. CSCW’13. ACM. 1515-1526.

Salovaara, A. 2012. Repurposive Appropriation and Creative Technology Use in Human–Computer Interaction. PhD Thesis.

Salovaara, A., Höök, K., Cheverst, K., Twidale, M., Chalmers, M., Sas, C. 2011. Appropriation and creative use: linking user studies and design. In Proc. CHI EA’11. ACM. 37-40.