Reflecting, tinkering, and tailoring: Implications for theories of information systems design
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The design and embedding of technical artifacts in complex task, social, and organizational environments is fundamental to IS. Yet in Design Science Research (DSR) and in the information system development process, the role of the humans who will use the system has been marginalized to that of a source in a requirements elicitation process, a subject in participatory design, or worse, a “user” of the designed technological artifact (Bannon 1991). While recent research (Kensing et al. 1998; Kensing and Blomberg 1998; Grudin and Pruitt 2002) has positioned end-users as participants involved in the design process, this work has largely focused on the primary design phase of technology artifacts. We have not seen a conscious, research driven approach which posits people as free, intelligent, and intentional designers in the ongoing recreation of information systems through a process of secondary design in the context of use. The hegemony of artifact design is so strong that workers’ deviation from prescribed uses of information systems and the creation of workarounds is frequently viewed as resistance (Ferneley and Sobreperez 2006) rather than as a secondary design process to tailor a system to fit the user’s situated tasks, metaphors, and use patterns. Although a number of recent special journal issues have addressed Design Science Research, few researchers focus attention on the activities of the humans using the systems. Nowhere is the human actor considered a designer in her own right. Yet an increasing number of technologies are intended to be tailored for the creation of information environments, where actors in the information process reflect on the context, tasks, and technologies to tinker with the system and tailor it to suit their own metaphors and use patterns (Germonprez et al. 2007).