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Search results for 'dourish'
27 June 2012

UCI to lead national social computing research center, led by Paul Dourish

photo by Intel Labs

UC Irvine will anchor a new $12.5 million, Intel-funded research center that applies social science and humanities to the design and analysis of digital information.

“Technology is profoundly entangled with our everyday lives. As researchers, we can’t get a handle on what’s going on by looking at technical factors alone. We have to study them in concert with human, social and cultural aspects,” said UCI informatics professor Paul Dourish.

He and Scott Mainwaring of Intel Labs will co-lead the center, dubbed the Intel Science & Technology Center for Social Computing, along with UCI anthropology and law professor Bill Maurer.

Intel researchers will work side by side with academics in campus labs. The research is not proprietary and will be public, open intellectual property. Mainwaring, senior research scientist with Intel Labs’ Interaction & Experience Research group, has already moved into an office at UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences.

Read press release

Experientia has always been very interested in the work of Paul Dourish, and frequently featured it on its blog. This is a tremendously exciting development, and we wish Prof. Dourish all the best with this new Intel research center.

And as a pleasant aside, the building tiles featured on the directors photo are somehow strangely reminiscent of the building tiles of another educational research center devoted to the same theme: the well-known Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

29 July 2011

Review: Paul Dourish & Genevieve Bell – Divining a digital future (2011)

Divining a Digital Future
Michiel De Lange has published a very long and somewhat critical review of the book Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing by Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell.

“In Divining a Digital Future D&B reiterate many arguments made in earlier work, provide them with more flesh, and formulate some future directions for ubicomp. To be sure this is not a bad thing, neither for those who wish to read a book on the current state of affairs in ubicomp, nor for ubicomp researchers who wish to enlarge the scope of their own practice. The book attempts to foster an anthropological sensitivity among its (presumed) CHI readership. Fundamentally, their proposition to approach technology (and urbanism) through an ethnographic lens is highly relevant in my view. Imagine what the future of our cities look would like if it were the sole concern of coders and engineers? Indeed, we should never forget Jane Jacobs’ lesson that livable and lively cities are about people.

I also appreciate their relational view of ubicomp as intricately bound up with the messiness of everyday life, their concern with its multiplicity of forms and shapes, and their attention for fringes (edges, periphery, margins). Important too in my view is that D&B implicitly question the notion of ‘the everyday’. The everyday does not consist of stable pre-given categories (home, mobility, etc.) that can be supplemented with ubicomp. It arises from socio-cultural performances and is continuously negotiated. Still, they could have stated this even more explicitly, because ‘the everyday’ is so often unproblematically assumed as a self-explanatory term in both technology and urban studies.

That being said, D&B’s focus is too much directed inward in my view. D&B dish up insights from urban ethnography, sociology and human geography to a ubicomp audience. The ubicomp crowd may find this refreshing; those more familiar with these ‘soft’ disciplines will already consider such insights well-accepted. As said above, what I feel is lacking from their approach is a clear vision how ubicomp can reciprocate to an understanding of the intricacies of techno-urban practices. What can ethnography and urbanism learn from ubicomp?”

Read review

16 February 2011

Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell on ubicomp mythology

Divining a Digital Future
Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing
Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell
MIT Press, April 2011, 264 pages
ISBN 978-0-262-01555-4
264 pages
Amazon page | MIT Press page

Ubiquitous computing (or “ubicomp”) is the label for a “third wave” of computing technologies. Following the eras of the mainframe computer and the desktop PC, ubicomp is characterized by small and powerful computing devices that are worn, carried, or embedded in the world around us. The ubicomp research agenda originated at Xerox PARC in the late 1980s; these days, some form of that vision is a reality for the millions of users of Internet-enabled phones, GPS devices, wireless networks, and “smart” domestic appliances.

In Divining a Digital Future, computer scientist Paul Dourish and cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell explore the vision that has driven the ubiquitous computing research program and the contemporary practices that have emerged–both the motivating mythology and the everyday messiness of lived experience.

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the authors’ collaboration, the book takes seriously the need to understand ubicomp not only technically but also culturally, socially, politically, and economically. Dourish and Bell map the terrain of contemporary ubiquitous computing, in the research community and in daily life; explore dominant narratives in ubiquitous computing around such topics as infrastructure, mobility, privacy, and domesticity; and suggest directions for future investigation, particularly with respect to methodology and conceptual foundations.

Paul Dourish is Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and in Anthropology. He conducts research in human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and social studies of science and technology. Before joining UC Irvine, he was a Senior Member of Research Staff at Xerox PARC.

Genevieve Bell is an Intel Fellow and the Director of Intel’s first user-focused research and development lab, Interaction and Experience Research. A cultural anthropologist, she studies the relationship between information technology and cultural practice both in technology design and in settings of everyday use. Before joining Intel, she taught Anthropology and American Studies at Stanford University.

26 January 2008

Recent publications by Prof. Paul Dourish

Paul Dourish
Putting People First regularly features the work of UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish, whose interest lies in the crossover areas between computer science, anthropology, ubiquitous computing, mobility, design and HCI.

Here are some of the recent publications by this very prolific researcher:

Brewer, J., Bassoli, A., Martin, K., Dourish, P., and Mainwaring, S. 2007. Underground Aesthetics: Rethinking Urban Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 6(3), July-September, 39-45

An ethnographic study and a design proposal for a situated music-exchange application suggest how explicitly foregrounding the experiential qualities of urban life can help rethink urban computing design.

Dourish, P. 2007. Seeing Like an Interface. Proc. Australasian Computer-Human Interaction Conference OzCHI 2007 (Adelaide, Australia)

Mobile and ubiquitous computing systems are increasingly of interest to HCI researchers. Often, this has meant considering the ways in which we might migrate desktop applications and everyday usage scenarios to mobile devices and mobile contexts. However, we do not just experience technologies in situ – we also experience everyday settings through the technologies we have at our disposal. Drawing on anthropological research, I outline an alternative way of thinking about the relationship between technology and “seeing” everyday life and everyday space.

Brewer, J., Mainwaring, S., and Dourish, P. 2008. Aesthetic Journeys. Proc. ACM Conf. Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)

Researchers and designers are increasingly creating technologies intended to support urban mobility. However, the question of what mobility is remains largely under-examined. In this paper we will use the notion of aesthetic journeys to reconsider the relationship between urban spaces, people and technologies. Fieldwork on the Orange County bus system and in the London Underground leads to a discussion of how we might begin to design for multiple mobilities.

Williams, A., Dourish, P., and Anderson, K. 2008. Anchored Mobilities: Mobile Technology and Transnational Migration. Proc. ACM Conf. Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)

Mobile technologies are deployed into diverse social, cultural, political and geographic settings, and incorporated into diverse forms of personal and collective mobility. We present an ethnography of transnational Thai retirees and their uses of mobile technology, highlighting forms of mobility that are spatially, temporally, and infrastructurally anchored, and concepts of the house as a kinship network that may be globally distributed. We conclude in pointing out several ways in which our observations and analysis can influence design.

Troshynski, E., Lee, C., and Dourish, P. 2008. Accountabilities of Presence: Reframing Location-Based Systems. Proc. ACM Conf. Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2008 (Florence, Italy)

How do mobility and presence feature as aspects of social life? Using a case study of paroled offenders tracked via Global Positioning System (GPS), we explore the ways that location-based technologies frame people’s everyday experiences of space. In particular, we focus on how access and presence are negotiated outside of traditional conceptions of “privacy.” We introduce the notion of accountabilities of presence and suggest that it is a more useful concept than “privacy” for understanding the relationship between presence and sociality.

(via Pasta&Vinegar)

19 September 2013

Book: Design Anthropology

9780857853691

Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice
Editor(s): Wendy Gunn, Ton Otto, Rachel Charlotte Smith
Bloomsbury Academic, 2013
304 pages

Design is a key site of cultural production and change in contemporary society. Anthropologists have been involved in design projects for several decades but only recently a new field of inquiry has emerged which aims to integrate the strengths of design thinking and anthropological research.

This book is written by anthropologists who actively participate in the development of design anthropology. Comprising both cutting-edge explorations and theoretical reflections, it provides a much-needed introduction to the concepts, methods, practices and challenges of the new field. Design Anthropology moves from observation and interpretation to collaboration, intervention and co-creation. Its practitioners participate in multidisciplinary design teams working towards concrete solutions for problems that are sometimes ill-defined. The authors address the critical potential of design anthropology in a wide range of design activities across the globe and query the impact of design on the discipline of anthropology.

This volume will appeal to new and experienced practitioners in the field as well as to students of anthropology, innovation, science and technology studies, and a wide range of design studies focusing on user participation, innovation, and collaborative research.

For all of us who work, think, teach, write, and dwell in this exciting interdisciplinary space, these essays will be of tremendous value.” – Paul Dourish, Professor of Informatics, University of California, Irvine, USA

10 May 2013

Very successful launch of Experientia’s Talking Design lecture series

 


Talking Design - Todd Harple

Click on image to view slideshow

On Wednesday evening about 20 guests and 30 Experientia staff maxed out our little conference room to attend our very first Talking Design lecture and listen to Intel anthropologist Todd Harple, who spoke about why design and social sciences need each other, now more than ever (see also links below).

The “Talking Design” guest speaker evenings are part of our drive to bring the design world to Turin. Harple inaugurated what we plan to make a long series of talks from global experts in the industry, who will share their experiences and knowledge with the staff and friends of Experientia.

A good aperitivo afterwards (a much lauded Piedmont tradition!) allowed for informal conversation and networking.

Todd Harple, who has a PhD in anthropology, is an Experience Engineer and Strategist at Intel Corporation, and is currently on sabbatical at the International Training Centre of the ILO in Turin.

We will soon let you know about the second speaker in the series, and the location (which we may have to change, due to the success of our first talk). We also plan to video record the next talk so that we can post the lecture series also online.

Here are the links Todd provided yesterday to some background reading on the topics that he addressed during his talk:

On the heritage of design in craft
Book “Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures“, by J. Christopher Jones

For a great review of ethnography in design and implications:
Article “Implications for Design” by Paul Dourish

See Eric Dishman tell his inspirational story of data and health care as team sport:
TED Talk “Healthcare should be a team sport” by Eric Dishman

Check out CIA’s Challenges with Big Data (and notions of ownership):
GigaOM talk “The CIA’s Grand Challenges with Big Data” by Ira “Gus” Hunt, CTO of the CIA

Andersen’s notion that Big Data heralds The End of Theory discussed last night:
Article “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete” by Chris Anderson

Kate Crawford on The Hidden Biases in Big Data that we discussed last night
Article

Controversy over Google Glass we discussed last night
Article “Google Glass Picks Up Early Signal: Keep Out” by David Streitfeld in The New York Times

Will Google Glass have same effect as Bentham’s Panopticon?

Join the discussion about responsibly managing Big Data #wethedata

25 October 2012

Book: Configuring the Networked Self

9780300125436

Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice
by July E. Cohen
Yale University Press, 2012
352 pages
Free pdf version | Amazon link

The legal and technical rules governing flows of information are out of balance, argues Julie E. Cohen in this original analysis of information law and policy. Flows of cultural and technical information are overly restricted, while flows of personal information often are not restricted at all. The author investigates the institutional forces shaping the emerging information society and the contradictions between those forces and the ways that people use information and information technologies in their everyday lives. She then proposes legal principles to ensure that people have ample room for cultural and material participation as well as greater control over the boundary conditions that govern flows of information to, from, and about them.

Julie E. Cohen teaches and writes about intellectual property law and privacy law, with particular focus on copyright and on the intersection of copyright and privacy rights in the networked information society. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

(Recommended by Paul Dourish)

6 September 2012

Ubicomp’s colonial impulse

header-logo

Paul Dourish and Scott Mainwaring, the founders of the Intel funded Social Computing Research Center at UC Irvine, presented yesterday a paper at Ubicomp 2012 with the short but bombshell title “Ubicomp’s Colonial Impulse” (pdf).

The abstract remains quite vague, and doesn’t much insight on what this colonial impulse is all about:

Ubiquitous computing has a grand vision. Even the name of the area identifies its universalizing scope. In this, it follows in a long tradition of projects that attempt to create new models and paradigms that unite disparate, distributed elements into a large conceptual whole. We link concerns in ubiquitous computing into a colonial intellectual tradition and identify the problems that arise in consequence, explore the locatedness of innovation, and discuss strategies for decolonizing ubicomp’s research methodology.

In essence the argument in the paper is centred around the idea of colonialism as a knowledge enterprise, or as I would word it, a global knowledge empire (Dourish is Scottish and has some affinity with one particularly powerful colonial empire).

Then they point out – and here we get to the more explosive subject matter that the title hints at – a series of considerations that undergird both systems of thought [i.e. colonialism and ubiquitous computing):

  • They share the notion that knowledge and the bases of innovation are unevenly distributed in the world, and that their goal is to assist the migration of knowledge from centers of power (be they colonial hubs or research laboratories) to places where it is lacking.
  • They share the related notion that progress in places where information, knowledge, or technology is lacking is something that should be undertaken by the knowledgeable or powerful on behalf of those others who are to be affected or changed by it.
  • They share a belief in universality: that knowledge and representations applied to any particular place or situation can just as easily apply to any other, and that knowledge schemes developed anywhere will work just as well anywhere else. So, for instance, the universal taxonomy of botanical life created at Kew, or the universal accounts of human needs and human activities common to modeling exercises in technology design, are both thought and intended to have power to speak to the details of settings anywhere.
  • They share a commitment to reductive representation and hence to quantification and statistical accounts of the world as a tool for comparison, evaluation, understanding, and prediction.
  • They share the idea that the present in centers of power models in embryo the future of other regions, such that the “developed” world is understood as the destiny of and model for the “developing”, or that the world at large is destined to become “like” the

In what follows, the authors examine these ideas in more depth. They "want to show how ubicomp’s research program, envisioned and portrayed since its founding as a program "for the twenty-first century" [i.e. "future-making"], nonetheless draws on a considerably older legacy. [They] then draw out some consequences of this approach, suggest some strategies for escaping it, and sketch the contours of an alternative approach to ubiquitous computing.”

The article is well argued, a delight to read, and was rightfully selected as one of Ubicomp 2012′s “Best Paper Nominees”. Most interestingly, the criticism is not limited to Ubicomp, but can be – as the authors point out – applied to all knowledge institutions and all tech companies active in Silicon Valley – and they point to Google as a good case in point (even adding also the IMF and the World Bank in their critical drag net).

Therefore their “contours of an alternative approach to ubiquitous computing” provide the outset of an alternative approach to the “Silicon Valley Empire”.

14 July 2010

Ethnography in industry

PARC
PARC, the legendary California-based research centre owned by the Xerox Corporation, is hosting a series of talks on ethnography in industry. The three talks that took place are already available online in video. More talks are scheduled tomorrow and next week.

Feral Technologies: An ethnographic account of the future [ video | alternate link ]
Genevieve Bell, Intel
3 June 2010

What do rabbits, camels and cane toads all have in common? And why might this be relevant to the future of new technologies. In this talk, I want to explore the ways in which new technologies are following the path of feral Australian pests – in particular, I am interested in the unexpected and unscheduled transformations that have occurred in the last decade. In 1998, an estimated 68% of the world’s internet users were Americans. A decade later that number had shrunk to less than 20%. The complexion of the web – its users, their desires, their languages, points of entry and experiences – has subtly and not so subtly changed over that period. All these new online participants bring with them potentially different conceptual models of information, knowledge and knowledge systems with profound consequences for the ideological basis of the net. These new participants also operate within different regulatory and legislative regimes which will bring markedly different ideas about how to shape what happens online. And in this same time period, the number and kind of digital devices in peoples’ lives has grown and changed. Devices have proliferated with ensembles and debris collecting in the bottom of backpacks, on the dashboards of dusty trucks and in drawers, cabinets, and baskets. Bell explores these feral technology proliferations, in the ways in which they have defied conventional wisdom and acceptable boundaries, and, most importantly, the ways in which they have transformed themselves into new objects and experiences.

Postcolonial Computing: Technology and Cultural Encounter [ video | alternate link ]
Paul Dourish, University of California, Irvine
17 June 2010

“Culture” has become a hot topic in computing research as information technologies become enmeshed in global flows of people, products, capital, ideas, and information. However, while much attention has been focused on the problems of “cross-cultural collaboration” and “cultural difference,” a useful alternative is opened up by thinking about culture from a generative, rather than a taxonomic, perspective — that is, as a framework for understanding and interpreting the world around us, rather than a framework for classifying people. In this talk, Dourish outlines and illustrates an approach that he and his colleagues have been developing, which draws on anthropology, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies to help them examine the contexts of encounter between people, information technology, and culture.

Beyond Ethnography: How the design of social software obscures observation and intervention [ video ]
Gentry Underwood, IDEO
8 July 2010

Human-centered design, i.e., the design of products and services with the needs of the end-user or recipient in mind, has long been lauded as an essential skill in developing relevant and usable software. As software tools move from being about human-computer interaction to human-human interaction (as mediated through some sort of networked device), the focus must shift from extreme-user profiling to something more akin to ethnography, only with an intervention-heavy twist.
Gentry shares learnings from his work in the social software field, offering examples of how his training in ethnography helps him do his job, as well as insight as to where the work must move beyond traditional ethnographic methods in order to be successful.

Ethnography: Discovering the obvious that everyone else overlooks
Stephen R. Barley, Center for Work, Technology and Organization, Stanford School of Engineering
15 July 2010

In this talk, Barley focuses on what he has learned over 30 years about doing ethnography, and illustrate what he sees as ethnography’s central payoff for designers of technology and organizations by drawing on a recent comparative study of automobile dealers.

Ethnography as a cultural practice
Steve Portigal, Portigal Consulting
22 July 2010

Culture is everywhere we look, and (perhaps more importantly) everywhere we don’t look. It informs our work, our purchases, our usage, our expectations, our comfort, and our communications. In this presentation, Steve discusses the use of ethnographic research in the product development process and suggest how an understanding of culture is a crucial component in innovation.

Together with these talks, the PARC blog hosts a number of features on the use of ethnography in industry, highlighting the objectives and the methods.

17 June 2010

Resistance is futile and the design of politics

Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
Paul Dourish, a researcher frequently written about on this blog (check e.g. Monday’s mentioning of his paper on Postcolonial Computing), has posted a few more papers that are worth exploring:

“Resistance is Futile”: Reading Science Fiction Alongside Ubiquitous Computing
Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California
Genevieve Bell, Director of the User Experience Group, Intel Corporation

“Design-oriented research is an act of collective imagining – a way in which we work together to bring about a future that lies slightly out of our grasp. In this paper, we examine the collective imagining of ubiquitous computing by bringing it into alignment with a related phenomenon, science fiction, in particular as imagined by a series of shows that form part of the cultural backdrop for many members of the research community. A comparative reading of these fictional narratives highlights a series of themes that are also implicit in the research literature. We argue both that these themes are important considerations in the shaping of technological design, and that an attention to the tropes of popular culture holds methodological value for ubiquitous computing.”

HCI and Environmental Sustainability: The Politics of Design and the Design of Politics
DIS 2010
Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine

“Many HCI researchers have recently begun to examine the opportunities to use ICTs to promote environmental sustainability and ecological consciousness on the part of technology users. This paper examines the way that traditional HCI discourse obscures political and cultural contexts of environmental practice that must be part of an effective solution. Research on ecological politics and the political economy of environmentalism highlight some missing elements in contemporary HCI analysis, and suggest some new directions for the relationship between sustainability and HCI. In particular, I propose that questions of scale – the scales of action and the scales of effects – might provide a useful new entry point for design practice.”

14 June 2010

Some CHI papers that we like

CHI 2010
Here are some of the CHI 2010 papers we like:

On cross-cultural HCI

Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development
Lilly Irani, Janet Vertesi and Paul Dourish, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine;
Kavita Philip, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Irvine;
Rebecca E. Grinter, GVU Center and School of Interactive Computing College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology

As our technologies travel to new cultural contexts and our designs and methods engage new constituencies, both our design and analytical practices face significant challenges. We offer postcolonial computing as an analytical orientation to better understand these challenges. This analytic orientation inspires four key shifts in our approach to HCI4D efforts: generative models of culture, development as a historical program, uneven economic relations, and cultural epistemologies. Then, through reconsideration of the practices of engagement, articulation and translation in other contexts, we offer designers and researchers ways of understanding use and design practice to respond to global connectivity and movement.

After access – challenges facing mobile-only Internet users in the developing world
Shikoh Gitau, Gary Marsden, Hasso Plattner ICT4D Research School, University of Cape Town, South Africa;
Jonathan Donner, Microsoft Research India

This study reports results of an ethnographic action research study, exploring mobile-centric internet use. Over the course of 13 weeks, eight women, each a member of a livelihoods collective in urban Cape Town, South Africa, received training to make use of the data (internet) features on the phones they already owned. None of the women had previous exposure to PCs or the internet. Activities focused on social networking, entertainment, information search, and, in particular, job searches. Results of the exercise reveal both the promise of, and barriers to, mobile internet use by a potentially large community of first-time, mobile-centric users. Discussion focuses on the importance of self-expression and identity management in the refinement of online and offline presences, and considers these forces relative to issues of gender and socioeconomic status.

On micro-blogging and social networking

Tune in, tweet on, twit out: information snacking on Twitter
Elizabeth Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research;
Andrew L. Brooks of the School of Information University of California, Berkeley

Microblogging via services such as Twitter is changing the way we share and access information. We report findings from three studies that explored everyday information seeking and sharing activities: local news consumption, shopping, and recommendation making by concierges in the hotel industry. Although our focus was not Twitter per se, the service is increasingly seen as having value for solving specific situational information needs. Through examples we illustrate how Twitter has evolved from a service for sharing personal status messages to being used as a source for pursuing one-off, disposable information requests.

Media, conversations, and shadows
David A. Shamma, Lyndon Kennedy, and Elizabeth F. Churchill of the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research

This article proposes that microblogged messages that relate to a live event can be examined as indirect annotation on a media object that might not exist. From a collection of Twitter posts around two political events, we have begun to discover techniques for identifying how microblog posts relate to the matching media event. Further, we identify the relationship between the media event itself and the conversational shadow cast from the online community.

Sensemaking with tweeting: exploiting microblogging for knowledge workers
Bongwon Suh, Lichan Hong, Gregorio Convertino, Ed H. Chi, Palo Alto Research Center;
Michael Bernstein, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Just because the rules surrounding microblogging services are simple does not mean that tools support for them should be simple too. Microblogging generates volumes of interesting social content, but there is a lack of frameworks and tools that allow us to exploit such information and enhance knowledge workers’ sensemaking. Beyond adoption, we believe that new promising research directions on microblogging include designing and evaluating tools that extract and exploit social information. In this paper, we discuss a number of ways to exploit microblogging in support of two recurrent sensemaking tasks: (1) when a user is seeking information (information foraging and active exploration) and (2) when information is delivered to the user (awareness and passive monitoring).

What do people ask their social networks, and why? A survey study of status message Q&A behavior
Meredith Ringel Morris, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Jaime Teevan, Microsoft Research Redmond;
Katrina Panovich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

People often turn to their friends, families, and colleagues when they have questions. The recent, rapid rise of online social networking tools has made doing this on a large scale easy and efficient. In this paper we explore the phenomenon of using social network status messages to ask questions. We conducted a survey of 624 people, asking them to share the questions they have asked and answered of their online social networks. We present detailed data on the frequency of this type of question asking, the types of questions asked, and respondents’ motivations for asking their social networks rather than using more traditional search tools like Web search engines. We report on the perceived speed and quality of the answers received, as well as what motivates people to respond to questions seen in their friends‟ status messages. We then discuss the implications of our findings for the design of next-generation search tools.

On energy use

Home, habits, and energy: examining domestic interactions and energy consumption
James Pierce, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University;
Diane J. Schiano, Computer Science Laboratory Palo Alto Research Center and SAMA Group Yahoo!, Inc.;
Eric Paulos, HCI Institute Carnegie Mellon University

This paper presents findings from a qualitative study of people’s everyday interactions with energy-consuming products and systems in the home. Initial results from a large online survey are also considered. This research focuses not only on “conservation behavior” but importantly investigates interactions with technology that may be characterized as “normal consumption” or “over-consumption.” A novel vocabulary for analyzing and designing energy-conserving interactions is proposed based on our findings, including: cutting, trimming, switching, upgrading, and shifting. Using the proposed vocabulary, and informed by theoretical developments from various literatures, this paper demonstrates ways in which everyday interactions with technology in the home are performed without conscious consideration of energy consumption but rather are unconscious, habitual, and irrational. Implications for the design of energy-conserving interactions with technology and broader challenges for HCI research are proposed.

Studying always-on electricity feedback in the home
Yann Riche, Riche Design Seattle;
Jonathan Dodge and Ronald A. Metoyer, Oregon State University, School of EECS

The recent emphasis on sustainability has made consumers more aware of their responsibility for saving resources, in particular, electricity. Consumers can better understand how to save electricity by gaining awareness of their consumption beyond the typical monthly bill. We conducted a study to understand consumers’ awareness of energy consumption in the home and to determine their requirements for an interactive, always-on interface for exploring data to gain awareness of home energy consumption. In this paper, we describe a three-stage approach to supporting electricity conservation routines: raise awareness, inform complex changes, and maintain sustainable routines. We then present the findings from our study to support design implications for energy consumption feedback interfaces.

The design of eco-feedback technology
Jon Froehlich and James Landay, Computer Science and Engineering, DUB Institute, University of Washington;
Leah Findlater, The Information School, DUB Institute, University of Washington

Eco-feedback technology provides feedback on individual or group behaviors with a goal of reducing environmental impact. The history of eco-feedback extends back more than 40 years to the origins of environmental psychology. Despite its stated purpose, few HCI eco-feedback studies have attempted to measure behavior change. This leads to two overarching questions: (1) what can HCI learn from environmental psychology and (2) what role should HCI have in designing and evaluating eco-feedback technology? To help answer these questions, this paper conducts a comparative survey of eco-feedback technology, including 89 papers from environmental psychology and 44 papers from the HCI and UbiComp literature. We also provide an overview of predominant models of proenvironmental behaviors and a summary of key motivation techniques to promote this behavior.

12 May 2009

Johanna Brewer about ethnography and design

Johanna Brewer
Nicolas Nova reports today on a lecture by Johanna Brewer about “What can ethnography do for technology?”.

Brewer, who is a PhD candidate in the Informatics department at the University of California, Irvine and a collaborator of Paul Dourish in the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction (LUCI), basically presented how ethnography, as a methodological strategy, is relevant for design in the context of her PhD projects.

Read full story

21 October 2008

Science fiction and HCI/interaction design

Star Wars
Nicolas Nova has posted some quick pointers about the relationships between science-fiction and HCI/interaction design on his blog:

Human Computer Interaction in Science Fiction Movies by Michael Schmitz surveys the different kind of interaction design sci-fi movies envisioned during the past decade. It also interestingly describes how the film technicians made prototype possible and legible.

Make It So: What Interaction Designers can Learn from Science Fiction Interfaces by Nathan Shedroff and Chris Noessel is a nice presentation from SxSW08 that looked at sci-fi material as well as industry future films to show design influences sci-fi and vice versa.

The upcoming paper by Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell entitled ““Resistance is Futile”: Reading Science Fiction Alongside Ubiquitous Computing that investigates how ubiquitous computing is imagined and brought into alignment with science-fiction culture.

Julian Bleecker’s presentation from Design Engaged and SHiFt 2008 also addressed that topic.

Personally I would add Bruce Sterling’s work in general, as a major direct and indirect inspiration for interaction designers all over the world.

1 October 2008

“Resistance is Futile”: reading science fiction alongside ubiquitous computing

Crucible
The Crucible/Microsoft HCI Reading Group at Cambridge University is a journal-reading group dedicated to review and critique of recent theoretical developments in human-computer interaction.

In early August, the group discussed a draft manuscript from Paul Dourish (UC, Irvine) and Genevieve Bell (Intel) that is currently under review, entitled “‘Resistance is Futile’: Reading Science Fiction Alongside Ubiquitous Computing”.

Abstract
Design-oriented research is an act of collective imagining – a way in which we work together to bring about a future that lies slightly out of our grasp. In this paper, we examine the collective imagining of ubiquitous computing by bringing it into alignment with a related phenomenon, science fiction, in particular as imagined by a series of shows that form part of the cultural backdrop for many members of the research community. A comparative reading of these fictional narratives highlights a series of themes that are also implicit in the research literature. We argue both that these themes are important considerations in the shaping of technological design, and that an attention to the tropes of popular culture holds methodological value for ubiquitous computing.

Download paper (pdf, temporary available at this url)

(via Nicolas Nova)

25 August 2008

The song of context

Speedbird
Adam Greenfield has written a truly excellent post — in fact more like a short essay — on the difference between location and context, calling the first one positivist and the second one phenomenological.

“But it [the positivist tradition] stands in stark contrast to the phenomenological take on things, which is premised on the instability and subjectivity of the things we perceive, and on the irreducible importance of these perceptions as they register on the lived body, i.e. you, now, here, in your own skin, heir to your own history of experience. On the phenomenological side of the house, all of the grandeur resides in the act of interpretation – which is always somebody’s interpretation, crucially inflected by their situation. [...]

The phenomenological approach – and this is the worldview that stands, either explicitly or otherwise, behind the entire field subsuming design and user research and ethnography, at least as those things are practiced by the people I know – insists that the world in its richness cannot be reduced to datasets. Or not, anyway, without doing fatal damage to everything that truly matters.

But Dourish ["What We Talk About When We Talk About Context?", Paul Dourish, 2004] argues (persuasively, I think) that this is the wrong question. For him, this mysterious thing context is something that only be arrived at through interaction – “an achievement, rather than an observation; an outcome, rather than a premise.” It’s relational in the deepest sense of the word, a state of being that arises out of the shared performance and understanding of two or more parties (actors, agents, what have you).

And why do we want to characterize this state of being in the first place? “[T]o be able to use the context in order to discriminate or elaborate the meaning of the user’s activity.” That’s it.”

This is highly recommended reading. Thank you, Adam.

Read full story

3 May 2008

CHI 2008: a selection on mobility

CHI 2008 proceedings
Here is my selection on mobility related papers presented at CHI 2008.

(Papers are linked to their pdf downloads, if available.)

A diary study of mobile information needs [abstract]
Authors: Timothy Sohn, Kevin A. Li, William G. Griswold, and James D. Hollan (UC San Diego)
Abstract: Being mobile influences not only the types of information people seek but also the ways they attempt to access it. Mobile contexts present challenges of changing location and social context, restricted time for information access, and the need to share attentional resources among concurrent activities. Understanding mobile information needs and associated interaction challenges is fundamental to improving designs for mobile phones and related devices. We conducted a two-week diary study to better understand mobile information needs and how they are addressed. Our study revealed that depending on the time and resources available, as well as the situational context, people use diverse and, at times, ingenious ways to obtain needed information. We summarize key findings and discuss design implications for mobile technology.

Accountabilities of presence: reframing location-based systems [abstract]
Authors: Emily Troshynski, Charlotte Lee and Paul Dourish (UC Irvine)
Abstract: How do mobility and presence feature as aspects of social life? Using a case study of paroled offenders tracked via Global Positioning System (GPS), we explore the ways that location-based technologies frame people’s everyday experiences of space. In particular, we focus on how access and presence are negotiated outside of traditional conceptions of “privacy.” We introduce the notion of accountabilities of presence and suggest that it is a more useful concept than “privacy” for understanding the relationship between presence and sociality.

23 April 2008

Stanford University’s Human-Computer Interaction Seminar

Stanford iTunes U
iTunes U is an area of iTunes that lets universities in the US share – for free! – audio and video from their lectures, talks and events. The contents are globally accessible.

By clicking on Power Search, you can easily limit the regular iTunes search to iTunes U.

Of particular interest to the readers of this blog is Stanford University’s Human-Computer Interaction Seminar, consisting of no less than 36 lectures by people such as Bill Moggridge, Bill Buxton, Elizabeth Churchill, Paul Dourish and Donald Norman.

23 April 2008

Cultures of virtual worlds

Cultures
A two-day conference this week will bring together scholars, developers and participants in virtual worlds to discuss the emerging cultures being created from a range of online communities.

Event organizers theorize that virtual worlds can be studied by researchers in the fields of humanities and social sciences.

Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito, Intel anthropologist Genevieve Bell, UCI informatics professors Paul Dourish and Bonnie Nardi, Intel researcher Maria Bezaitis and UCI anthropologist Tom Boellstorff will lead the discussions.

The event is sponsored by Intel Research and UCI’s Department of Anthropology and Center for Ethnography.

Tom Boellstorff, one of the conference organizers, is the author of Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. His is the first book to take a look at Second Life from a purely anthropological perspective.

- Press release
- Event website

14 March 2008

When Users “Do” the Ubicomp

Present-day ubicomp
When Users “Do” the Ubicomp is the great sounding title of an article by Finnish researcher Antti Oulasvirta in the March-April issue of Interactions Magazine.

Abstract: Computers have become ubiquitous, but in a different way than envisioned in the 1990s. To master the present-day ubicomp-a multi-layered agglomeration of connections and data, distributed physically and digitally, and operating under no recognizable guiding principles-the user must exhibit foresight, cunning and perseverance. Preoccupation with Weiserian visions of ubicomp may have diverted research toward problems that do not meet the day-to-day needs of developers.

The article builds on the work done by Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish, and in particular their article Yesterday’s Tomorrows. Like them, Oulasvirta argues that there are two ubicomps: the idealised one presented at conferences and the “real ubicomp”, described as “a massive noncentralized agglomeration of the devices, connectivity and electricity means, applications, services, and interfaces, as well as material objects such as cables and meeting rooms and support surfaces that have emerged almost anarchistically, without a recognized set of guiding principles.”. This infrastructure is therefore “not homogenous or seamless, but fragmented into several techniques that the user has to study and use.”

He then takes his analysis a step further and actually shows “the many ways in which it is the users who have to ‘do’ ubicomp; that is, actively create the resources for using an application in a heterogeneous, multicomputer environment.”

Oulasvirta concludes with “a laundry list of approaches to improving ubicomp infrastructures:”

1) minimizing overheads that create temporal seams between activities;
2) making remote but important resources, such as connectivity or cables, better transparent locally and digitally;
3) propagating metadata on migration of data from device to device;
4) supporting ad hoc uses of proximate devices’ resources like projectors, keyboards, and displays;
5) triggering digital events like synchronization of predetermined documents with physical gestures; and
6) supporting appropriation of material properties for support surfaces“

To read the entire article, you need an ACM Digital Library subscription.

8 February 2008

LIFT videos online

LIFT08
The LIFT conference started on Wednesday and unfortunately I could not attend due to work pressures (our partner Jan-Christoph Zoels is there though). But there is a solution: fifteen presentations can already be viewed online.

Check out Genevieve Bell (Intel), Paul Dourish (UC-Irvine), Bruce Sterling and Younghee Yung (Nokia) to name just a few, or read up on what Bruno Giussani has to say.