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Digital DIY after Moving Home

The next speaker at COST 298 is Philip Ely. He notes a long history of DIY activities; in the UK, for example, some 63% were involved in DIY activities in 2004. Digital DIY (d-DIY) is less visible - a process of customising and modifying, installing and reinstalling our electronic technologies, especially in the context of residential moves - that is, of often substantial life changes. In the process, people reconfigure their existing technologies.

This area has been underresearched so far. There is little observation, for example, of gender or socioeconomic differences, or from any other disciplinary perspectives. Philip observed the activities of a hobbyist computer group involved in building their own computers, and established a technology biography of a number of the group members - all of them middle-class white males, incidentally - but points out that mutatis mutandis such practices exist throughout society. Philip also conducted an autoethnography of his own d-DIY practices following a major life change of his own.

Participants in his study were asked to map their own home technologies and social networks (of people influencing their technology choices), and gave him a technology tour of the new home. He notes that almost the first thing people now want to do after their moves is to turn on the TV and connect to the Net. A move involves a tremendous amount of negotiation in siting technological objects, and this also involves non-users in the family who have a say. Some experienced users build their own technologies or technology extensions, and at any rate, setting up such technologies become family events.

Broken relationships (e.g. divorces) also break influence networks - ex-partners, for example, may still call up one another in order to find out how to operate particular forms of technology. And within the home, there are often significant tensions around access to the available physical infrastructure (sockets and cables, etc.).

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