Maker culture and DIY practices are central to democratizing the design of technology; enabling non-designers (future end-users) to actively participate in the design process. However, little is known about how individuals from under-resourced communities and low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, can practically leverage maker practices to design technology, creating value for themselves or their communities. To investigate this, we collaborated with an e-waste recycling centre, involving 24 participants (staff and low-SES volunteers) in two participatory maker workshop activities. Participants were provided with a generative e-waste toolkit, through which they repurposed e-waste materials and developed novel technology prototypes that created value from their perspectives and agendas. Our findings unpack three factors that influenced their making: balancing personal and community needs; incorporating convenience and productivity; and re-thinking sustainability and connection; and discussing strategies for scaffolding participation and engagement of under-resourced communities in making use of an e-waste generative toolkit to democratize technology design.
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Dhaval is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research primarily focuses on Human-Centered Computing (HCC) and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). He runs a research group called the Compassion Lab, which focuses on designing technologies to support members from under-resourced communities.