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From the Internet of Things to an Internet of Practices

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)


In his ground-breaking work on the habitus Bourdieu (1977) understands practices as the permanent internalization of the social order in the human body. Others have taken this idea and described practices as ‘normatively regulated activities’ (Schmidt, 2014). Our own interests here arise from the fact that during the performance of all of these various activities, which may implicate and draw upon the material environment, the surrounding context, their own capabilities, interests and preferences, people often use supportive devices and technologies that help to enable and support their realization. Where these supportive technologies make up a part of the Internet of Things (IoT) they are usually small, interconnected cyber-physical devices and are typically used in social/collaborative settings. As a consequence, the (re-)appropriation of these new devices and technologies is not only a technical, but also a social process. Within this exploratory paper we focus on the potential of IoT technologies for supporting collaborative appropriation within Communities of Practice (CoP) from a practice-oriented perspective. We outline the vision of an Internet of Practices (IoP). This vision encompasses and addresses a range of phenomena that has been associated with how CoPs evolve and the resonance activities that can arise as specific bodies of practice adapt, by adding integrated support for the documentation of practices and the sharing of relevant representations such that mutual improvements in practice may take place. Based on our vision of the IoP, we outline some directions CSCW research could take regarding the potential of the IoT and new emerging technologies, thereby expanding the scope of CSCW’s areas of interest.


Ludwig, Thomas; Tolmie, Peter; Pipek, Volkmar (2017): From the Internet of Things to an Internet of Practices. Proceedings of 15th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work - Exploratory Papers. DOI: 10.18420/ecscw2017-10. European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET). PISSN: 2510-2591. pp. 222-237. IoT and Communities of Practice. Sheffield, UK. 28 August - 1 September 2017