The Home Network as a Socio-Technical System: Understanding the Challenges of Remote Home Network Problem Diagnosis
Research focused on the user experience of home networking repeatedly finds that householders have difficulties setting up networked equipment. No research to date, however, has studied the in the moment interactions of householders with networking technical support professionals. In this paper, we analyze 21 phone calls to a technical support call center of a home network hardware manufacturer. The phone calls focus on overcoming difficulties during one particular task: adding a wireless router to an existing home network. Our results reaffirm prior studies in remote collaboration that suggest a need to support shared understandings of the problem at hand between remote parties. Our results also suggest that technical properties of the home network and the structure of the home itself complicate the social work of remote diagnosis and repair. In response, we suggest new approaches for remote home network problem diagnosis and repair, including resources for householders to reason about their home networks prior to call placement, and improved methods of inter-organizational information sharing between stakeholders.