Changing Roles of Users in Information Technologies

Workshop of the Centre of Information Technology and Society

November 8, 2007. 13.00 – 17.30

Location: University of Twente, Building: Horst Tower, room 1300


Tradi­tion­ally, users have been considered as important actors in the diffusion and acceptance of new technologies, but most treatments of users have tended to view them as passive recipients of the technology. More recently, scholars have emphasised that users not only matter once  technology is in use, but also play an important role in the design of technologies. Rather than being seen as passive, users are viewed today as active participants in technological innovation. This workshop addresses this changing role of users in the development and use of information and communication technologies.


13.00-13.15 Welcome and introduction

Nelly Oudshoorn (Professor and chair of the Department of Science, Technology, Health and Policy Studies at the University of Twente)


Motivation, Governance & the Viability of Hybrid Forms in Open Software Development

Sonali Shah, assistant professor at the Foster School of Business, University of  Washington

Shah, one of the leading scholars in the field of social studies of open source software, will present her current research in which she analyses  open source software projects that rely on the voluntary efforts of thousands of software developers. In this paper, she inductively derives a framework for understanding why software developers choose to participate in this collective development process based on data from two software communities with different governance structures. Implications for firms interested in implementing hybrid strategies designed to combine the advantages of open source software development with proprietary ownership and control are discussed. 

14.00- 14.45

From Simple Customer to Warm User. Or, Who Cares about the Maintenance of Community Innovations?

Stefan Verhaegh, PhD student at the Department of Science, Technology, Health and Policy Studies, UT

This paper aims to reframe the standard image of the user as simple customer by introducing the contrasting notion of warm user. Verhaegh argues that affective relationships based on ‘warmth’ are not only limited to other humans, but can extend to technologies as well. The warm user concept is especially fruitful to better understand how maintenance of community innovation is organized, when professional and paid service personnel is non-existent. This paper builds on ongoing empirical research of the community Wi-Fi initiative Wireless Leiden in the Netherlands.

14.45-15.00 Tea and Coffee


Product Concept Development: A User Centred, Multi-disciplinary Project Team View

Jettie Hoonhout, senior scientist, Philips Research Laboratories, Media Interaction Group

It is obvious that ambient intelligence systems that adapt to the user's habits and preferences can only be developed by thoroughly investigating first the users' habits, preferences, needs and requirements. In her paper Hoonhout will show that the formation of the development team itself can have a significant effect on the process as well. An approach that seems promising in terms of ensuring that different aspects of product development are indeed addressed is to bring together domain experts from different backgrounds, and create a setting in which barriers between disciplines can disappear, and adopt a rapid iterative ideation and development process. A number of product concept development cases from Philips Research will be presented to demonstrate these aspects.

15.45- 16.30

The User in Visions of Ambient Intelligence. A Construction of Unified Latitude

Louis Neven

PhD student at the Department of Science, Technology, Health and Policy Studies, UT

In visions of the future of Ambient Intelligence (AmI) a pivotal role is given to the user. The way the user is represented in visions of Ambient Intelligence can, however, not be summarized in one or a couple of homogeneous statements. On the contrary, the image of the user of AmI is very divers, heterogeneous and sometimes seemingly contradictory. In this presentation Neven will show, on the basis of an analysis of two AmI vision statements by Philips Research, that it is productive to phrase this heterogeneity in a heuristic of oppositions. These oppositions in turn, make it possible to see the visions of AmI as a construction of unified latitude.

16.30 – 17.30

Closing remarks and drinks