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PhD Defence Alex van der Zeeuw | IoT, it's simple as Do Re Mi: a micro-figuration approach to the social context of IoT skills and digital inequalities

IoT, it's simple as Do Re Mi: a micro-figuration approach to the social context of IoT skills and digital inequalities

Due to the COVID-19 crisis the PhD defence of Alex van der Zeeuw will take place (partly) online.

The PhD defence can be followed by a live stream.

Alex van der Zeeuw is a PhD student in the research group Communication Science (CS). His supervisor is A.J.A.M. van Deursen from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS).

As the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming the next frontier for the digital divide, understanding how IoT related skills develop, acquired, and applied in a social context is crucial in determining the benefits and exploitations of IoT use. Typical for IoT use is that otherwise everyday activities involve more parties, internet connections and internet services. By developing a micro-approach to figurational research we examine how the IoT is socially embedded in a network of interdependencies and power balances between different parties and how this affects IoT skills. We follow 30 household for 15 months using qualitative interviews, house tours, a novel diary study using an app focused on intersubjective metaphorical parameters, and a performance task where participants extracted their own IoT log-entry data we then used to illustrate structural practices. During this 15-month study we examine how people start using IoT differently and how they position themselves in relation to others in doing so. We find that IoT users in a figuration of interdependencies based on household members, main IoT users, IoT devices, and manufacturers. To examine the relations between these interdependencies, we adjust operational skills and collaboration skills from a digital skills framework to IoT and construct choreographic skills to address the socio-materiality of the IoT.