DIY for CHI: Methods, Communities, and Values of Reuse and Customization

Workshop at the 2009 Computer Human Interaction (CHI) conference

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Workshop Day: April 5, 2009, all day

Call for Participation PDF

Extended Abstract PDF

Take a look at photos from the workshop!

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What do glitter and glue, needles and thread, batteries and wires have to do with CHI? What do makers and crafters have to teach us about the world, ourselves, and technology? Where can CHI researchers engage with the rise of professional amateur Do-It-Yourself (DIY) practitioners? This workshop provides an active playspace for these communities to come together in making, building, and hacking technologies and ideas. DIY encompasses a range of design activities that have become increasingly prominent in online discussion forums and blogs, in addition to a small-but-growing presence in professional/research forums such as CHI. Come prepared to disassemble, smash, break, cut, glue, sew, solder, re-assemble, and get dirty as we create our DIY future. The workshop will be focusing on DIY communities, DIY methods, and DIY values and goals through a series of hands-on and participatory DIY exercises and explorations.

Workshop Aftermath

Dorkbot: DIY for CHI

Dorkbot: DIY for CHI Methods, Communities, and Values of Reuse and Customization

Tuesday 7 April 2009 7:00 PM

Bartos theater, Lower Level, at the MIT Media Lab (building E15 on the MIT campus) map

Free! Open to everyone!

This year for the first time there was a workshop at CHI focused on DIY: DIY for CHI: Methods, Communities, and Values of Reuse and Customization This dorkbot will showcase the outcomes from the workshop and continue this important debate with everyone...most notably the builders, makers, and crafters who brind DIY to life. Please come join us 7 April @ 7PM! This is a special dorkbot-boston we have arranged to coincide with the 27th annual conference on Human-Computer Interaction (CHI) ACM SIGCHI 2009 conference that is being held in Boston, USA this year 4-9 April.

Workshop Preparation

DIY for CHI is just over a week away! Here are some things we'd like you to do to prepare for the workshop:

  • Bring the outcome of your instructable if that's feasible. We want to see all the great stuff people made!
  • Bring a funky material or device to build with during the session. We're planning a few hands-on hacking/crafting activities, so bring something to make with: a piece of velvet, an arduino, popsicle sticks, glitter, solder... Also, part of the workshop will consist of sessions led by participants, so bring a plan for a short DIY project that could be completed in a half hour and/or a list of topics you're interested in discussing.
  • Prepare a very short (1 minute) presentation about yourself and your instructable. We'll start the workshop with a round of one-minute-madness introductions. If you want to prepare a slide or 2 please send us these by Thursday April 2nd so that we can organize them beforehand. Slides certainly aren't required though--we welcome demos, songs, dances, etc. We will strictly enforce the time limit, so be concise.
  • Finally, in conjunction with the workshop, we will be holding a DIY for CHI Dorkbot on Tuesday, April 7th, at 7pm in the Bartos theater at the MIT Media Lab. The Media Lab is building E15 on the MIT campus. We hope you can make it! The session will be free and open to the public, so invite all your friends. We will put together a program based on the instructables you submitted and the discussions and activities that take place at the workshop. If you're not familiar with dorkbot, check out: & stay tuned for more info.

Workshop Overview

People creatively repurpose and modify existing materials to produce new things. These techniques are sometimes codified and shared so that others can reproduce, reinterpret or extend them. This workshop will explore DIY as an important alternative design practice. Our investigation will serve to unearth design motivations and techniques that may inform innovative HCI design methods and new tools to support DIY activity. The workshop will provide a forum for participants and organizers to develop a community around DIY issues and support ongoing research on DIY practice. The one-day workshop will involve discussion periods and group design exercises. We will provide a range of craft supplies and tools that participants can use during the exercises. The discussion topics include: 1) DIY methods 2) DIY communities 3) DIY values and goals.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Craft and handiwork
  • Sustainable practices
  • Reuse, repair and economic necessity
  • Open source software
  • Open source hardware
  • Political implications of DIY
  • Economic implications of DIY
  • Social implications of DIY
  • DIY and education
  • DIY communities
  • DIY and marginalized groups
  • DIY in developing countries

Workshop Organizers

Leah Buechley, MIT Media Lab

Eric Paulos, HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University

Daniela Rosner, School of Information, UC Berkeley

Amanda Williams, School of Information and Computer Sciences, UC Irvine

Dorkbort Organizer

David Nunez, Dorkbot-Boston

About Submissions

Download PDF of all Submissions.

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In the spirit of DIY we invited submissions in the form of an instructable. It could be a new energy device, your get rich quick scheme, cool robots, a Martian halloween costume, or the beauty of a delicious pie.

Complete submissions consisted of a link to an original instructable along with a short bio (in any form - text, song, video, etc). Participants were not required to make their submission via instructable but their submission had to contain a clear set of illustrated instructions for "making" your particular project. This could be using,,, etc. or a public website of your own.

Important dates:

Workshop Submissions Extended Deadline: November 7, 2008

Accepted Submissions Notified: November 28, 2008

Early Conference Registration Deadline: TBD

Workshop Date: April 5, 2009 (day 2, all day)*

* CHI workshops are scheduled on either day1 (4 April) or day2 (5 April) enabling attendees to participate in up to two different workshops.