Digital craftsmanship: practitioners’ principles and their significance for defining a community of practice

Vannucci, Erica (2021) Digital craftsmanship: practitioners’ principles and their significance for defining a community of practice. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Through the last two decades the spectrum of artefacts produced at the intersection of digital and hand-making processes has increased, seeing novel artefacts emerging under the umbrella of digital crafts. However, the challenge remains to specify a distinct set of shared characterising principles able to describe digital craft practitioners’ ethos as a community. Through the identification of shared principles practitioners could start more easily defining their community, developing an affinity among each other, and possibly interacting with other experts in the field – which is argued to be fundamental to ensure future acquisition, transfer, and preservation of tacit knowledge.

This work explores the landscape of digital craftsmanship within Design Research and practice-based communities, highlighting the disparate backgrounds of digital craft practitioners. A combination of ethnographic, auto ethnographic, and paraethnographic approaches were adopted to articulate underlying principles by which digital craft practitioners can be addressed as a community of practice with shared motivations and ethos. Central to this study is the use of Kelly’s Repertory Grid framework, through which the researcher supported and facilitated a set of diverse expert practitioners to reflect on a range of examples of digital crafts and making processes. Through the insights obtained using these methods, and supported by theoretical debates unpacked through a critical contextual review, three principles currently shared among digital craft practitioners are tentatively proposed as a key contribution from this research: (1) digital craft practitioner’s nurture creative complex imitative learning through craft material knowledge, (2) they strongly believe aspects of the making- process need to include mostly “polymorphic” actions as opposed to “mimeomorphic” sequences, and (3) their main motivation is bound to the making process as it expresses the practitioners’ material contributory expertise–rather than the reaction or experience their outputs could elicit in viewers/users. These principles offer a definition of the community considering digital craft practitioners’ perspectives, providing the opportunity for practitioners and several stakeholder groups to engage with a provisional description of the community. Moreover, they set the basis for future research in the field and reflections on digital craftsmanship as a form of both explicit and tacit knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: crafts, technology, tacit and explicit knowledge, design research, intangible heritage
Subjects: W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2022 08:42
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2022 08:45

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