Design Archaeology: Generating Design Knowledge from Real-World Artifact Design

  • Leona Chandra KruseEmail author
  • Stefan Seidel
  • Jan vom Brocke
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11491)


When formulating prescriptive design knowledge in design science research (DSR), we usually reflect on our vision of created artifacts, relevant design decisions, and what we have learned throughout the design process. Seldom do we attempt to extract prescriptive knowledge from existing and widely acknowledged artifacts in the manner of ex-post facto or in situ. But what can we learn from decades of designing digital artifacts that have fundamentally revamped work processes across industries, allowed for the emergence of new business models, and even spurred entirely new industries? This essay is inspired by the way archaeologists make sense of the past and represent the resulting knowledge. We propose a novel approach to the analysis of digital artifacts based on the archaeological approaches to context reconstruction and artifact analysis. We explain how a design archaeologist can shift among the perspectives of designers, users, and the generated artifact to make inferences about the artifact (i.e., design artifact), how it has been designed (i.e., design process), the context in which it has been designed (i.e., the design context), and the situations in which it has been used (i.e., the use contexts).


Design theorizing Design knowledge Design science research Artifact analysis Archaeology Information systems 



This research is funded by the Research Fund of the University of Liechtenstein (Forschungsförderungsfonds der Universität Liechtenstein).


  1. 1.
    Goldkuhl, G., Sjöström, J.: Design science in the field: practice design research. In: Chatterjee, S., Dutta, K., Sundarraj, R.P. (eds.) DESRIST 2018. LNCS, vol. 10844, pp. 67–81. Springer, Cham (2018). Scholar
  2. 2.
    Peffers, K., Tuunanen, T., Rothenberger, M.A., Chatterjee, S.: A design science research methodology for information systems research. J. Manage. Inf. Syst. 24, 45–77 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Baskerville, R., Pries-Heje, J.: Explanatory design theory. Bus. Inf. Syst. Eng. 5, 271–282 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Seidel, S., Chandra Kruse, L., Székely, N., Gau, M., Stieger, D.: Design principles for sensemaking support systems in environmental sustainability transformations. Eur. J. Inf. Syst. 27, 221–247 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sein, M.K., Henfridsson, O., Purao, S., Rossi, M., Lindgren, R.: Action design research. MIS Q. 35, 37–56 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gregor, S., Jones, D.: The anatomy of a design theory. J. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 8, 312–335 (2007)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Walls, J.G., Widmeyer, G.R., El Sawy, O.A.: Building an information system design theory for vigilant EIS. Inf. Syst. Res. 3, 36–59 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Walls, J.G., Widmeyer, G.R., El Sawy, O.A.: Assessing information system design theory in perspective: how useful was our 1992 initial rendition? J. Inf. Technol. Theor. Appl. 6, 43–58 (2004)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Latour, B.: A cautious prometheus? A few steps toward a philosophy of design (with special attention to Peter Sloterdijk). In: Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society, pp. 2–10 (2008)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Simon, H.: The Sciences of the Artificial. MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Alter, S.: The concept of ‘IT artifact’ has outlived its usefulness and should be retired now. Inf. Syst. J. 25, 47–60 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lee, A.S., Thomas, M., Baskerville, R.L.: Going back to basics in design science: from the information technology artifact to the information systems artifact. Inf. Syst. J. 25, 5–21 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hevner, A.R., Chatterjee, S.: Design Research in Information Systems. Springer, New York (2010). Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hevner, A.R., March, S.T., Park, J.: Design science in information systems research. MIS Q. 28, 75–105 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Iivari, J.: Distinguishing and contrasting two strategies for design science research. Eur. J. Inf. Syst. 24, 107–115 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gregor, S., Hevner, A.R.: Positioning and presenting design science research for maximum impact. MIS Q. 37, 337–355 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jung, H., Stolterman, E.: Material probe: exploring materiality of digital artifacts. In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, pp. 153–156. ACM (2011)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kallinikos, J., Aaltonen, A., Marton, A.: The ambivalent ontology of digital artifacts. MIS Q. 37, 357–370 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Germonprez, M., Hovorka, D., Gal, U.: Secondary design: a case of behavioral design science research. J. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 12, 662–683 (2011)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Yoo, Y., Henfridsson, O., Lyytinen, K.: Research commentary—the new organizing logic of digital innovation: an agenda for information systems research. Inf. Syst. Res. 21, 724–735 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Iivari, J.: Information system artefact or information system application: that is the question. Inf. Syst. J. 27, 753–774 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Van Aken, J.E.: Management research based on the paradigm of the design sciences: the quest for field-tested and grounded technological rules. J. Manage. Stud. 41, 219–246 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Gregor, S.: The nature of theory in information systems. MIS Q. 30, 611–642 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Friedman, K.: Creating design knowledge: from research into practice. In: Design and Technology Educational Research and Curriculum Development: The Emerging International Research Agenda, p. 31 (2001)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gregor, S., Müller, O., Seidel, S.: Reflection, abstraction, and theorizing in design and development research. In: Proceedings of the 21st European Conference on Information Systems, Utrecht (2013)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Markus, M.L., Majchrzak, A., Gasser, L.: A design theory for systems that support emergent knowledge processes. MIS Q. 26, 179–212 (2002)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Siponen, M., Baskerville, R., Heikka, J.: A design theory for secure information systems design methods. J. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 7, 725–770 (2006)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Recker, J.: Toward a design theory for green information systems. In: Proceedings of the 49th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 4474–4483. IEEE (2016)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Chandra, L., Seidel, S., Gregor, S.: Prescriptive knowledge in IS research: conceptualizing design principles in terms of materiality, action, and boundary conditions. In: Proceedings of the 48th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 4039–4084. IEEE (2015)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Jones, Q.: Virtual-communities, virtual settlements & cyber-archaeology: a theoretical outline. J. Comput. Mediated Commun. 3, JCMC331 (1997)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Morgan, C., Eve, S.: DIY and digital archaeology: what are you doing to participate? World Archaeol. 44, 521–537 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Daly, P., Evans, T.L.: Digital Archaeology: Bridging Method and Theory. Routledge, New York (2004)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Costopoulos, A.: Digital archeology is here (and has been for a while). Frontiers 3, 1 (2016)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Eve, S.: Digital applications and new media. In: Tsipopoulou, M. (ed.) Archaeological practice and management in digital heritage in the new knowledge management: shared spaces and open paths to cultural content. Directorate of the National Archive of Monuments, Athens (2008)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Chang, K.-E., Chang, C.-T., Hou, H.-T., Sung, Y.-T., Chao, H.-L., Lee, C.-M.: Development and behavioral pattern analysis of a mobile guide system with augmented reality for painting appreciation instruction in an art museum. Comput. Educ. 71, 185–197 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Sommerauer, P., Müller, O.: Augmented reality in informal learning environments: a field experiment in a mathematics exhibition. Comput. Educ. 79, 59–68 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Monod, E., Klein, H., Missikoff, O., Isari, D.: Cultural heritage systems evaluation and design: the virtual heritage center of the city of Rome. In: Proceedings of the 12th Americas Conference on Information systems (2006)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Monod, E., Klein, H.K.: From ehertitage to interpretive archaeology systems (IAS): a research framework for evaluating cultural heritage communication in the digital age. In: Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on Information Systems (2005)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Bauer, A.A.: Is what you see all you get? Recognizing meaning in archaeology. J. Soc. Archaeol. 2, 37–52 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Preucel, R.W.: Archaeological Semiotics. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Leonardi, P.M.: Materiality, sociomateriality, and socio-technical systems: what do these terms mean? How are they related? Do we need them? In: Leonardi, P.M., Nardi, B.A., Kallinikos, J. (eds.) Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Technological World, pp. 25–48. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Orlikowski, W.J., Iacono, C.S.: Research commentary: desperately seeking the “IT” in IT research—a call to theorizing the IT artifact. Inf. Syst. Res. 12, 121–134 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Djindjian, F.: Artefact analysis. In: Proceedings of CAA (2000)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Scott, S.V., Orlikowski, W.J.: Entanglement in practice: performing anonymity through social media. MIS Q. 38, 873–893 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Keane, W.: Semiotics and the social analysis of material things. Lang. Commun. 23, 409–425 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Robey, D., Anderson, C., Raymond, B.: Information technology, materiality, and organizational change: a professional odyssey. J. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 14, 379–398 (2013)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Sarker, S., Chatterjee, S., Xiao, X.: How “sociotechnical” is our IS research? An assessment and possible ways forward. In: Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Information Systems (2013)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Markus, M.L., Silver, M.S.: A foundation for the study of IT effects: a new look at DeSanctis and Poole’s concepts of structural features and spirit. J. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 9, 609–632 (2008)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Winter, S., Berente, N., Howison, J., Butler, B.: Beyond the organizational ‘container’: conceptualizing 21st century sociotechnical work. Inf. Organ. 24, 250–269 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Kaghan, W.N., Lounsbury, M.: Artifacts, articulation work and institutional residue. In: Rafaeli, A., Pratt, M.G. (eds.) Artifacts and Organizations: Beyond Mere Symbolism, pp. 279–289. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., New Jersey (2006)Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Rafaeli, A., Vilnai-Yavetz, I.: Emotion as a connection of physical artifacts and organizations. Organ. Sci. 15, 671–686 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Baskerville, R.L., Kaul, M., Storey, V.C.: Aesthetics in design science research. Eur. J. Inf. Syst. 27, 1–14 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Faulkner, P., Runde, J.: The social, the material, and the ontology of non-material technological objects. Documento de trabajo (2010)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Arthur, W.B.: The Nature of Technology: What it is and How it Evolves. Simon and Schuster, New York (2009)Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Leonardi, P.M.: When flexible routines meet flexible technologies: affordance, constraint, and the imbrication of human and material agencies. MIS Q. 35, 147–168 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Barley, S.R.: Technology as an occasion for structuring: evidence from observations of CT scanners and the social order of radiology departments. Adm. Sci. Q. 31(1), 78–108 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Zammuto, R.F., et al.: Information technology and the changing fabric of organization. Organ. Sci. 18, 749–762 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Watson, R., Seidel, S.: Three strategies for information systems research in the presence of an efficient knowledge market. In: Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Information Systems (2018)Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    DeSanctis, G.P., Poole, M.S.: Capturing the complexity in advanced technology use: adaptive structuration theory. Organ. Sci. 5, 121–147 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Faulkner, P., Runde, J.: Technological objects, social positions, and the transformational model of social activity. MIS Q. 37, 803–818 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Agogo, D., Kruse, L.C.: Open Affect-Responsive Systems (OARS): toward personalized AI to beat back the waves of technostress. In: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Spring Symposium Series, Palo Alto (2019)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leona Chandra Kruse
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefan Seidel
    • 1
  • Jan vom Brocke
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiechtensteinVaduzLiechtenstein

Personalised recommendations