Artful systems in the home

Art­ful sys­tems in the home

In this paper we intro­duce the idea of organ­iz­ing sys­tems. Through a num­ber of examples from an ongo­ing eth­no­graph­ic study of fam­ily life, we sug­gest that organ­iz­ing sys­tems come about through the art­ful design and use of inform­a­tion­al arti­facts in the home, such as cal­en­dars, paper notes, to-do lists, etc. These sys­tems are not only seen to organ­ize house­hold routines and sched­ules, but also, cru­cially, to shape the social rela­tions between fam­ily mem­bers. Draw­ing atten­tion to the mater­i­al prop­er­ties of inform­a­tion­al arti­facts and how assem­blies of these arti­facts come to make up organ­iz­ing sys­tems, we dis­cuss some gen­er­al implic­a­tions for design­ing inform­a­tion tech­no­logy for the home. Most import­antly, we sug­gest that tech­no­lo­gies must be designed to accom­mod­ate the rich and diverse ways in which people organ­ize their homes, provid­ing them with the resources to art­fully con­struct their own sys­tems rather than enfor­cing ones that are removed from their own exper­i­ences.

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