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Reconstructing normality: the use of infrastructure leftovers in crisis situations as inspiration for the design of resilient technology

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In this paper, we examine challenges people face in situations of disrupted network infrastructures and how people use surviving portions of technology to cope with these challenges. We show how an important aspect in crises is the disturbance of services caused by disruptions in underlying technological structures. In such situations, people resort to all possible means to "reconstruct normality" in the sense of restoring their ability to communicate. For doing so, people often make creative use of the remains of the technological landscape. Building on the analysis of interviews with crises witnesses and first responders, external reports and scientific literature, we propose and describe three categories of mechanisms involving the creative use of surviving technology in crisis situations. We argue that studying these mechanisms can provide a key source of inspiration to define qualities of resilient architectures, and use these mechanisms as creative input to propose architectural qualities that can potentially make communication systems more resilient in the face of crises.