tisdag 14 februari 2012

ICT in a sustainable future

My small department (Media Technology and Graphic Arts) is merging with our (small) neighboring department (Human-Computer Interaction), together forming the Media Technology and Interaction Design group (MID). Formally we became one group half a year ago, but the merging is an ongoing activity and we didn't even have a name at that time.

But we already sat in the same building and on the same floor, so it's not a huge trauma as mergers-and-acquisitions go. We officially merged half a year ago, but merging is also a matter of "jelling", of coming together, of activities and personal relationships, and that naturally takes longer. Personally I already knew quite a few persons over at HCI beforehand.

At MID, there will be "teams". There were already teams at HCI, and Media Technology for our part tried (some) a year ago, but then the merger thing came up and took all our time and energy. I have accepted the task of forming a team that will work in the intersection of 1) media technology, human-computer interaction, interaction design and information and communication technologies (ICT) and 2) sustainability (energy use, CO2 emissions etc.).

We haven't decided on a name for our group (team) yet and there are a few suggestions up in the air, but I'm becoming fond of "ICT in a sustainable future" (but a drawback is that it doesn't sound like the name of a research group). I have now even officially gotten some time/money (they are the same - you get money to buy time to do things) to think about our focus and start up the group during the spring.

Already as of earlier, there was a list of around 10 persons who have expressed interest in being part of such a group, and I will try to talk to all of them (during the coming month) about their hopes and expectations on such a group. There are also some ideas from "above" about what the purpose and activities of the teams will (should) be. That's actually a relief, since I already know that people have widely differing ideas and preferences and it's an unthankful job to railroad through an agenda. It's much easier if there already are (some) guidelines from "management" that we should adhere to or at least take into account (it takes the burden of my shoulder to reinvent the wheel/purpose of the group).

Anyway, the purpose of this blog post wasn't really to tell y'all about the stuff above, but rather to remind myself of a task that needs to be done during the spring, and that is to perform some intelligence work, i.e. to find out what other related groups there are out there and check out what they have done and are doing. As part of this work, I plan to have a closer look at:

- Eli Blevis and his Sustainable Interaction Design Research Group (SIDRG) at Indiana University. ("The focus of this group is to research the connection between interaction design and sustainable design, particularly but not exclusively environmentally sustainable design.")

- Samuel Mann's blog "Computing for sustainability: Saving the Earth one byte at the time". His blog has been up and running for over four years and has 300 (!) blog posts. He also has a list with links to "Green computing places" that should be checked out.

Having a closer look at Blevis and Mann would merit a blog post each, and I hope to be able to write those blog posts later this spring. Talking to and polling my colleagues also merits a blog post of its own.

More importantly though; what other research groups, or persons, or blogs/homepages, or books (or other sources) should our group be aware of and have a closer look at in preparing for our quest to understand the role of ICT in a sustainable future? Please leave a comment below if you have a suggestion!

Addition (April 2012): There is a "Sustainable CHI" Google group. I haven't joined it but do subscribe to the posts.

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