Background Sustainability has become a hot issue in recent HCI(Human-Computer Interaction) and interaction design, which has made numerous efforts to enlighten people about environmental issues with the objective of eventually promoting sustainable actions. However, these efforts could have the effect of inducing people to save energy and minimizing waste but revealed the limitations of negotiating people’s practices for sustainable purposes. In order to overcome this weakness, it is relevant to investigate practices while respecting them rather than negotiating or intervening. How, then, should HCI and interaction design approach everyday practices for sustainable purposes?
Methods People appropriate artifacts every day. Therefore, this study first investigates appropriation in terms of everyday practice. We first conducted situated interviews with six residents in dormitories and found that appropriation is a sustainable action which reuses and reinvents uses for possessions. In order to support its sustainability, we designed a socio-technical platform, Wikiuse, as the first prototype of a socio-technical platform that allows people to share their cases of appropriation and to see other people’s cases. Wikiuse was developed as a mobile application that runs on iOS4. Users can install it on their iPhone or iPod Touch and can easily connect to its Linux server by running the application.
In order to explore the practical value of using the platform to share cases of everyday appropriation, we recruited sixteen graduate students—seven males and nine females—who live in a dormitory; these students were very similar to the interviewees recruited for the dormitory interviews.
Results In a field study of sixteen participants, it was found that Wikiuse helped people in two ways: it made them aware of the value of their applications and provided shared cases that helped them to discover more about their own cases.
Additionally, the sharing of cases of appropriation led to the adoption of other people’s ways of appropriation, domestication, and sharing, which created a cycle of social appropriation. Participants adopted some of cases because they provided solutions to their problems, gave value to their possessions, and created new and interesting ways to use objects. In addition, satisfaction from helping others motivated participants’ sharing as well as supporting the process of psychological bond formation through sharing cases is an emotional value of the cases shared on Wikiuse.
Conclusion In sum, Wikiuse enables people to adopt others’ sustainable actions, domesticate them, and share modified cases of appropriation. In other words, this study revealed that the practice of appropriation can be reinforced and its meaning can be co-constructed through online sharing. Finally, this paper suggests that a new direction for sustainable HCI is to consolidate people’s sustainable practices rather than negotiating their practices with the intention of sustainability.