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3D Printers as Sociable Technologies: Taking Appropriation Infrastructures to the Internet of Things

: Ludwig, T.; Boden, A.; Pipek, V.


ACM transactions on computer-human interaction : TOCHI 24 (2017), Nr.2, Art. 17
ISSN: 1073-0516
ISSN: 1557-7325
Fraunhofer FIT ()

3D printers have become continuously more present and are a perspicuous example of how technologies are becoming more complex and ubiquitous. To some extent, the emerging technological infrastructures around them exemplify ways how digitalization will change production machines and lines, in general, in the Internet of Things (IoT). From an End-User Development perspective, the main question is how users can be supported in managing those complex digital production lines. To reach a better understanding, we carefully analyzed 3D printers as an example of highly digitalized production machines with regard to the creative activities of their users that help them to make these machines work for their practices. In our study of appropriation processes, we are concerned with situational and social aspects of the configuration and practice challenges associated with making digitalization work and how IoT technologies can support these collaborative appropriation activities of end users by making these machines more "sociable." We therefore conceptualize the idea of "Sociable Technologies" and implement a prototype that provides hardware-integrated affordances for communicating and documenting practices of usage. Based on the findings of our evaluation, we derive lessons learnt when aiming at making complex technologies more usable.