söndag 18 december 2016

The (Un)sustainability of Imagined Future Information Societies (paper)


My last blog post was about a paper I wrote that was accepted to the CHI 2017 conference. Well, I had another paper accepted to CHI, "The (Un)sustainability of Imagined Future Information Societies" (written together with my co-authors Elina Eriksson, Mattias Höjer, Ulrika Gunnarsson Östling and Luciane Borges). The paper hasn't been accepted outright but is rather "conditionally accepted" and the note of acceptance came together with this formulation: "Conditional acceptance means that you must fulfill the set of revision requests ... from your Associate Chair. This means that the Associate Chairs will check the final version of your submission to see if you have followed their specific recommendations".

We had of course planned to make these changes anyway but it is certainly interesting to see that someone will actually check on us and make sure we do what we have promised to do! The deadline for the final, camera-ready version of the paper is January 6.

With the exception of this introduction, the rest of the blog post (below) was written back in September, right after we submitted this paper.

---------- ...So now for some time travel this text was written back in September:

I just submitted my first full CHI papers for ages. It's usually the case that I have a crushing course load at this time of the year, but as courses sometimes move around, this year I only had one course to teach during the first half of the autumn term and there was thus some space open for paper-writing in my not-as-busy-as-usual calendar.

The paper is a quite heavily rewritten version of the paper we submitted to the Future Scenarios special track at the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI 2016) back at the end of May. The competition at the Future Scenarios tack was pretty fierce (around 30% of the submissions to the special track were accepted), and the paper was rejected despite the fact that it got a high overall rating. The final judgement was "Borderline, but somewhat closer 'accept' than 'reject'") but that was apparently not enough back then and taking the competition into account.

While the new paper has the exact same title, it has actually been developed quite a lot due to us taking some of the critique we got from the NordiCHI reviewers onboard. Another difference is that the NordiCHI paper could only be 10 pages long including citations while CHI papers can be 10 pages long excluding citations so our new paper swelled from 9 to 10 pages and the number of references ballooned from 27 to 53 in the new-and-improved CHI paper. Yet another difference is that the paper was submitted to NordiCHI as a future scenarios (design fiction/futures studies) paper that "happened to be" about sustainability. This time around it was instead submitted as a sustainability paper that "happened to be" about design fiction (and futures studies).

The paper is written by me, Elina Eriksson, Mattias Höjer, Ulrika Gunnarsson Östling and Luciane Borges (all at KTH Royal Institute of Technology with the latter three working at the School of Architecture and the Built Environment). The paper combines (compares, contrasts) design fiction with future studies and the first two authors are more of CHI/design fiction persons while the latter three are futures studies persons. The paper is the first public presentation of the five scenarios I wrote about for the very first time back in a blog post back in June 2013. What can I say, we've been unlucky with our scenarios submissions - both this paper and a longer journal article have been rejected. Well now this paper was accepted and we are rewriting the journal article and aiming it at another journal.

Here's the 150-word abstract for the paper,

"The (Un)sustainability of Imagined Future Information Societies"


The pathway to a sustainable society is not clear, and we will need to consider different developmental possibilities. This paper describes the results of a research project in the intersection of HCI and Futures Studies as well as in the intersection between “the future information society” and sustainability.

We discuss examples of what future information societies could look like and what the impact of these societies would be in terms of sustainability. The main stakeholders in this research have been bureaucrats, planners and policymakers, and the overarching goal was primarily to influence planning processes at the regional (Stockholm, Sweden) level. We here present parts of the rich body of materials that were developed in a research project over a period of several years with the aim of describing and evaluating the sustainability impact of possible future information societies. We also discuss some of the lessons learned and what HCI and design fiction can learn from from Future Studies in general and from this project in particular.

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