Creative disruptions: the role of 'misuses' in the design of communication technologies - Panel Proposal

TitleCreative disruptions: the role of 'misuses' in the design of communication technologies - Panel Proposal
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Latzko-Toth, G., F. Millerand, and F. Musiani
Affiliation (1st Author)Universite Laval
Section or WGCommunication Policy and Technology
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeCPTT4b
Slot Code (Keyword)CPTT4b
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitlePANEL: Creative disruptions: the role of ‘misuses’ in the design of communication technologies
Submission ID7131

Panel Chair: Guillaume Latzko-Toth, Université Laval, Canada
Discussant: Cécile Méadel, Centre de sociologie de l'innovation, Mines ParisTech
This panel proposes a specific reading of the Schumpeterian notion of "creative destruction" by questioning the creative agency of "disruptive" users and "misuses". In digital environments, and more generally as related to information and communication technologies, these terms refer to categories constructed by developers, designers and system administrators. They use them to name actors and practices performing what actor-network theory calls an "anti-program": a program of action going against the intended goal of designers (initially considered as the legitimate purpose and shape of the artifact), and which threatens to destabilize, and even compromise it. However, in many cases, this worst-case scenario doesn't occur, but instead the artifact or system evolves in unexpected directions, making it what it is known and used for. This is, for example, what happened with the use of computer networks for communication. For instance, ARPANET administrators considered communication over the network as a frivolous and counter-productive use, competing with the "legitimate" mission of the network of sharing databases and processing power. Chat programs where banned from BITNET for the same reason. In France, the Minitel videotext system is another example where a so-called disruptive use – sexually explicit messaging – was retrospectively deemed to have largely contributed to its success. Even when problematic uses do cause damage to the systems, like cyberattacks exploiting flaws in Internet protocols, they may have structuring effects, forcing developers to improve the design or the governance of the system. Seen that way, the notion of "misuse" constitutes an interesting lens through which one can observe the tensions between "lay users" and "legitimate" designers at play in the innovation process. Through various empirical case studies, the papers gathered in this panel explore two aspects of misuse: the practices accused of being disruptive, and the actors' discourses about what is considered disruptive.
Paper 1: "'Please get rid of game players!': games as creative disruption in the development of an early online learning environment"
Paper 2: "When users become disruptive developers: the case of a technical standard"
Paper 3: "The Battle over Bits: An History of Innovation in Digital File-sharing"
Paper 4: "Legal highs and filesharing: two cases of innovation against the law"
Paper 5: "An alternative Domain Name System? "Creative disruption" with Internet user infrastructure"

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