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Participatory design and free and open source software in the not for profit sector – the Hublink Project.

Haskel, L. F., 2017. Participatory design and free and open source software in the not for profit sector – the Hublink Project. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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HASKEL, Lisa Frances_D.Eng._2016.pdf



This industry-based thesis undertakes a multifaceted and longitudinal exploration of the design and implementation of a Free and Open Source Software (FLOSS) based information system in a consortium of small-scale community organisations. The research is centred on the design, production and implementation of a case management system with and for a group of nine not-for-profit organisations in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who work as a consortium. The system, called Hublink, is based on the FLOSS framework Drupal. The system was designed during 2013 and has been in everyday use by those organisations since January 2014, acting as the consortium's primary information infrastructure. This research therefore encompasses both design and use. The design process was based on Participatory Design (PD) principles and methods. Because of the project's long-term nature, Hublink has been an exceptional opportunity to focus on the legacy of a PD process into the later stages of the software development life-cycle. This research has therefore been able to draw on themes that have emerged through real-world use and an extended collaboration and engagement. In this thesis I place the Hublink project description within literature covering Participatory Design, Community Informatics and Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS), extending into infrastructuring, appropriation and end user development. Through a literature review and presentation of evidence collected during this research project, a clear argument emerges that relates the mutual learning outcomes of Participatory Design, with sustainability through infrastructuring activities, while also showing how the communities of practice of FLOSS projects create an infrastructure for not-for-profit organisations, enabling them to build sustainable systems that can meet their needs and accord with their values. The thesis argues that while Participatory Design strengthens the human element of infrastructure, FLOSS provides a complementary element of technical support, via the characteristics of generativity and extensibility, and their communities of practice. This research provides a deeply descriptive study that bridges design and use, centred on the core values of Participatory Design, contributing to the understanding and development of practices around sustainability and Participatory Design in the not-for- profit sector. The research offers a conceptual pathway to link FLOSS and Participatory Design, suggesting directions for future research and practice that enhance the connections between these two important areas of participatory production.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:human-computer interaction; human-centred design; participatory design; third sector
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:29569
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:04 Aug 2017 10:47
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:04


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