fredag 18 januari 2013

HCI in a world of limitations

The CHI conference is the largest and most prestigious conference in the area of Human-Computer Interaction. I've been to a number of CHI conferences, but none during the last 10 years. I recently (less than a year ago) learned that a strong CHI sub-community (a SIG - Special Interest Group) had been formed around the topic of sustainability some years ago. 

The CHI conferences are usually held in North America, but they do come to Europe every now and then and this year's conference will be held in Paris at the end of April. The deadline for submitting articles to the conference came and went four months ago, but a large number of workshops will be organized and a workshop called "Post-Sustainability" sounds very interesting. The workshop organizers have suggested four different themes for the workshop:

Thinking about the future. Visions of the future that engages and encourages action (rather than pessimism).
Adaptation. Preparing for likely (climate and other) changes.
Resilience. Building stronger, local, resilient communities.
IT in a resource constrained world. IT in a strongly resource-constrained or post-collapse world,

Earlier today me and my colleagues Åke Walldius and Elina Eriksson handed in a positions paper that focused primarily on the last of the four themes above. Below is the title and the the short abstract of our paper.

I don't know exactly who will be able to read the position paper beyond the four workshop organizers and the workshop participants as I don't think it will be published (be accessible) anywhere. So the actual contents of the six-page text are in themselves not the most important aspect of it, but rather it's function - to convince the workshop organizers to selected our paper and invite me and my co-authors to attend the workshop. So, in line with making us seem like attractive workshop participants, we also jazzed up our 100-150 word bios. Elina wrote:

"My research interest has been in change issues, and user-centred design. However, on a personal level, the survival of the human race and my children in particular has pushed me into climate-sustainability-zombie anxiety."

I believed I just might have made myself into a walking honey-pot - not only a researcher but also an attractive informant when I almost 100% truthfully described myself as "a founding member of ”Änggärdet”, a Swedish Transition Town ecovillage".


HCI in a world of limitations: Adressing the social resilience of computing

Most computer scientist and practitioners assume that we live in a world of possibilities and that inexorable forces of technological development will help bring us a future of increased wellbeing and of growing economic prosperity. An increasing number of scientists however point at the triple crisis (ecology, economy, energy) and imagine radically different futures based not on expansion and possibilities, but on limitations and/or decline. We propose that a broad program should be formulated that takes biophysical and economic limitations as its starting point and outline some areas that paramount for HCI to come to grips with.

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