"the Network Is an Excuse": Hardware Maintenance Supporting Community

Philip Garrison, Esther Han Beol Jang, Michael A. Lithgow, Nicolás Andrés Pace

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The global community networking movement promotes locally-managed network infrastructure as a strategy for affordable Internet connectivity. This case study investigates a group of collectively managed WiFi Internet networks in Argentina and the technologists who design the networking hardware and software. Members of these community networks collaborate on maintenance and repair and practice new forms of collective work. Drawing on Actor-Network Theory, we show that the networking technologies play a role in the social relations of their maintenance and that they are intentionally configured to do so. For technology designers and deployers, we suggest a path beyond designing for easy repair: since every breakdown is an opportunity to learn, we should design for accessible repair experiences that enable effective collaborative learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct. 2021


  • ICTD
  • communities of practice
  • community networks
  • repair


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