Multimedia Documentation of Electronics Hacking Projects
Method — Content Analysis, Remote Interviews
Popular online How-To pages were the core pieces of data for this project. To find out what didn't work, I conducted brief, remote interviews with the authors about their challenges behind the scenes.
Identified a couple dozen How-To authors linked from popular hacking blogs. Performed a content analysis of text and multimedia from these online How-To pages. Conducted semi-structured interviews with the authors by phone or instant messenger about the steps in their process and the challenges they faced.
Telling someone else how to build something can be really hard. What strategies do successful How-To authors use to provide detail about processes and physical objects?
Immense efforts are required to create good How-To pages, so authors are reluctant to give up control of their content to a third-party site. At the same time, electronics hackers create How-To pages because they want to connect with others like themselves. The tension between individual control and the desire for community opens up design possibilities. To support How-To sharing, link a loose, informal network of autonomous sites together rather than trying to motivate How-To authors to consolidate their content on a common platform.