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IT Design for Amateur Communities
KTH, Superseded Departments, Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, NADA.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7549-1797
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The concept of community is receiving increasing attentionacross organizations and throughout the entire society.Voluntary association, creation of value, and solidarity incommunity contexts get more and more appreciated and nurturedwithin companies and other organizations. At the same time,lack of community is raised lately by Western sociologists as amajor source of alarm while the large participationpossibilities provided by the Internet are seen as a hope forremedy.

This thesis aims to contribute in the area of technologydesign for communities by seeking to gain understanding ofvoluntary community work and to design artefacts in support forsuch work. Community work is studied through anethnographically-inspired approach for empirical observation ofcommunity activity and the artefacts that support it. Fieldstudy of‘voluntary working order’was conducted inseveral voluntary communities: amateur radio and three studentorganisations. In studying such working order, one mustrenounce a set of assumptions that are commonly made aboutwork, starting with the very idea of remuneration as a basicmotivation. Instead, challenge as a major motivation isproposed for work in voluntary communities. To draw inspirationfor future design, an examination is made of the way thismotivation is reflected in the features of technology createdby the communities for their own use, in the working contextsof the field settings.

Lessons learned about amateur work are then used and refinedwhile reflecting on amateur-work-oriented design of ITartefacts conducted within a student organisation, with aparticular interest in self-sustainability of participatorydesign practices in such settings. Practices of participatorydesign are re-considered in the context of voluntary work, theabsence of the employer-employee conflict, the challenges andlearning trajectories of the members. As development is done bymembers of the student community, design interventions forself-sustainability of amateur software development aredescribed and reflected upon. A generic approach is proposedfor action aimed at self-sustainability in amateur settings.The socio-technical features that resemble across thecommunities studied and practices experienced are then groupedunder the generic name of the perspective developed in thisthesis:“Amateur Community”. The perspective isproposed as a point of departure for further study and designintervention in similar communities. Comparisons are madebetween Amateur Community and other approaches such asCommunity of Practice.

Keywords:amateur, volunteer, community, work, amateurwork, participatory design, software development, challenge,contingency, pioneering, public, personal development,learning, hands-on learning, selfsustainability

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2003. , vi, 198 p.
Trita-NA, ISSN 0348-2952 ; 0302
Keyword [en]
amateur, volunteer, community, work, amateur work, participatory design, software development, challenge, contingency, pioneering, public, personal development, learning, hands-on learning, self-sustainability
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3470ISBN: 91-7283-44467OAI: diva2:9273
Public defence
2003-02-14, 00:00 (English)
QC 20100420 NR 20140805Available from: 2003-02-11 Created: 2003-02-11 Last updated: 2010-04-28Bibliographically approved

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