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Abstract

Tailorable technologies are a class of information systems designed with the intention that users modify and redesign the technology in the context of use. Tailorable technologies support user goals, intentions, metaphor, and use patterns in the selection and integration of technology functions in the creation of new and unique information systems. We propose a theory of tailorable technology design and identify principles necessary for the initial design. Following a Kantian style of inquiry, we identified four definitional characteristics of tailorable technology: a dual design perspective, user engagement, recognizable environments, and component architectures. From these characteristics, we propose nine design principles that will support the phenomenon of tailoring. Through a year-long case study, we refined and evidenced the principles, finding found that designers of tailorable technologies build environments in which users can both interact and engage with the technology, supporting the proposed design principles. The findings highlight a distinction between a reflective environment, where users recognize and imagine uses for the technology, and an active environment in which users tailor the technology in accordance with the imagined uses. This research contributes to the clarification of the role of theory in design science, expands the concept of "possibilities for action" to IS design, and proposes a design theory of a class of information systems for testing and refinement.

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