torsdag 10 maj 2018

Homo Colossus In Real Life

KTH Sustainability Office award money for small (maximum 100 000 SEK, maximum 1 year) interdisciplinary projects, "Environment and sustainability without boundaries"

I handed in an application there a few minutes before the May 2 deadline, "Homo Colossus In Real Life (HC-IRL)", together with co-applicants Mario Romero (Associate professor in Human-Computer Interaction with focus on Interactive Computer Graphics & Visualization), Jonas Åkerman (environmental researcher and one of Sweden's premier researchers on GHG emissions in general and emissions from air travel in particular) and Per Hasselberg (Konstfrämjandet/People's Movements for Art Promotion).

I have written about Homo Colossus several times on the blog before (November 2016, again in November 2016 and in December 2017) so instead of explaining what that concept means, I just paste the short project description below (where I explain what the concept means).

The project is basically a fact-finding mission where I will do the brunt of the work and then have monthly meetings with a "steering committee" (the co-applicants that are listed above). The fact-finding mission would run from Q3 2018 (September) to the end of Q1 2019 (March). The last quarter of the next academic year (Q4 2019) would be reserved for compiling and drawing resources together to produce a report/prospectus (decision support), including a realistic budget, sketches/suggestions for placement and design of Homo Colossus on the KTH Campus etc. This report would be handed over to KTH and the best-case scenario is that KTH would then decide to go ahead and build Homo Colossus - in all its might - somewhere on campus. As part of the report, we also plan to either produce a 20-second 3-D previsualization OR produce sketches that will help external actors (e.g. KTH decision makers) visualise what a finished Homo Colossus could look like.

I will get to know if this application has been granted or not sometime in June.

Project description

HC-IRL is a prestudy for a larger science and art project, ”Homo Colossus” (Catton 1986, Catton 1987). A human being who weighs 70 kilos needs to eat food with an energy content of less than 2000 kcal per day (a bit more than 2 kWh/day), but is easy for a Swede to use 50 to 100 times more energy in his or her everyday life. So how large would the average Swede be if he or she was colossal and had to eat as much food/energy as we use in our everyday lives? The answer is that the average Swede would be around 12 meters tall and weigh around 25 000 kilos. 

The purpose of the project ”Homo Colossus” is to build a replica of a colossal human being  and (for a limited period of time) place it on the KTH campus. The purpose of this prestudy, ”HC-IRL” is to produce information that supports a KTH decision about whether to go ahead with actually building such a replica or not. We here assume that KTH, should it go ahead and decide to build Homo Colossus on the KTH campus, will pay for the costs, but we will also as part of this application keep an eye on the possibilities of finding supplemental external funding (from a foundation, etc.).

The prestudy will partly examine practical aspects of building Homo Colossus (shape, pose (standing, sitting, etc.), appearance, materials, weight, cost/budget, etc.) and partly investigating administrative and practical obstacles/possibilities for building a Homo Colossus on the KTH Campus (location, permissions, security issues etc.). We will also contact artists to open up discussions about feasibility and implementation of the project. We have to that effect ”recruited” Per Hasselberg from the People's Movements for Art Promotion (Konstfrämjandet) for this application and he will partake in the project/prestudy as well as act as a door opener to researchers, teachers and artists who work with public art at the The Royal Institute of Art (Kungliga Konsthögskolan/Mejan – for example Åsa Andersson Broms, artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art) and elsewhere.

KTH is also at the cusp of starting up a center for Art, Technology and Design (KTD) that we would furthermore like to cooperate with. There is a distinct possibility that the first director of the center will be main applicant Pargman’s current colleague, Professor of Media Technology/Sound and Music Computing researcher Roberto Bresin who is informed about this application. Another potential informant/partner is Programme Director Federico Favero at KTH Architecture/Architectural Lighting and Design. While contacts have been initiated also with other KTH researchers, we here only apply for money for the main applicant and the co-applicants previously listed.

- Catton, W. R. (1986). Homo colossus and the technological turn‐around. Sociological Spectrum, 6(2), 121-147. 
- Catton, W. R. (1987). The world's most polymorphic species: Carrying capacity transgressed in two ways. BioScience, 37(6), 413-419.

söndag 6 maj 2018

Circular thinking in sustainable HCI (workshop)

My previous blog post was about a workshop proposal for the upcoming NordiCHI conference, but I'm also part of another workshop proposal for that conference, "Circular thinking in sustainable HCI: Revisiting the link between invention and disposal". This proposal was spearheaded by Maja van der Velden from the University of Oslo and the workshop is organised together with Alma Leora Culén, Elina Eriksson, Daniel Pargman, Oliver Bates and Miquel Ballester.

Both Maja and Oliver participated in our sustainability-themed NordiCHI 2016 workshop and we have discussed the possibility of putting together a workshop for NordiCHI 2018 workshop of quite some time, but it was only at the very end that things actually happened. When Maja took charge, the workshop also changed focused to closer align with her specific research interests.

The aim of the workshop is thus to explore circularity as a principle of sustainable HCI. Every new invention should integrate its own disposal - where disposal can mean recycling, reuse, repair, redistribution, remanufacture or refurbishment, forming the basis for a range of design approaches such as design for repair/repairability, design for recyclability and design for circularity.

The (full-day) workshop is divided into four phases: a show and tell session where participants present and discuss "an object or material that represent their work in sustainable HCI", a mapping session, an exploratory design session and finally a session where we critically reflect on circularity.

Circular thinking in sustainable HCI: Revisiting the link between invention and disposal

Maja van der Velden, University of Oslo
Alma Leora Culén, University of Oslo
Elina Eriksson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden 
Daniel Pargman, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden 
Oliver Bates, Lancaster University, UK
Miquel Ballester, Fairphone

“Circularity is the next big thing in design”, they say, but in what way can circularity contribute to sustainable HCI? In this workshop we will critically engage with the different aspects, applications, and implications of circularity or critical thinking and ask: Is circularity a principle of sustainable HCI? In order to answer this question, the workshop combines a variety of methods, based on a Research through Design approach. The starting points for this exploration are the artefacts that the workshop participants present in a ‘show and tell’ session. The artefacts represent both the participants’ work or interest in sustainable HCI, as well as things to talk about or think with when talking about circularity. Through two more exploratory sessions, we will give form and shape to what circular thinking can contribute to sustainable HCI. In the final session of the workshop we will map our findings on the most iconic digital device of our time, the mobile phone. Taking a life cycle perspective, we will look into redesigning our own mobile phones into a circular device. Because of the central role of design in the social and environmental sustainability of products and services, we will end our workshop with a final question: who and what will benefit from this re-design?

Keywords: Circular Design, Circular Service, Life Cycle Thinking, Mobile Phones, Sustainable HCI, Sustainable ICT, Sustainability, Sustainable Interaction Design, Green IT, UN Sustainable Development Goals

torsdag 3 maj 2018

The Futures of Computing and Wisdom (workshop)

I recently submitted a workshop proposal to the upcoming NordiCHI conference, "The Futures of Computing and Wisdom", together with Elina Eriksson, Rob Comber, Ben Kirman and Oliver Bates (besides the article I submitted to NordiCHI two weeks earlier). Me and Elina have organised workshops at at the previous two NordiCHI conferences (2014 in Helsinki and 2016 in Gothenburg). This workshop is however not a workshop about sustainability, but rather a workshop about Design Fiction (and Futures Studies). As such, it niftily connects to the NordiCHI Future Scenarios track. From our application:

This workshop is also designed to complement the Future Scenarios track at NordiCHI (and shares an organiser). That unique track already brings speculation and design fiction to the NordiCHI conference, and this workshop will complement the track by providing a full day for exploring design fiction in shorter formats (abstracts rather than scenarios) and applying this process collaboratively on the focused topic of wisdom.

The background to the workshop theme and the thing that set Elina and me in motion is a call for an upcoming special issue on "Wise Futures" in the journal "Futures". If the conversations at the workshop are riveting enough, we will most probably aim for writing a "structured report on conversations" for that special issue.

The turn-around time is impressively short, the workshop submission deadline was May 2 and we will know already on May 14 if we will get the opportunity to organise this workshop. If we do get that opportunity, we then need to have a workshop webpage up and running already on May 28.

Below is the workshop abstract - which should not be confused with the (coming) call for participation. The abstract is rather a summary of the longer workshop description (proposal) and it will primarily be used in the process of selecting a good mix of workshops that will be held at the conference. The NordiCHI workshops will be held on September 29 and 30 and the main conference will then be held between October 1-3.

The Futures of Computing and Wisdom

Daniel Pargman, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden 
Elina Eriksson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden 
Rob Comber, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden 
Ben Kirman, University of York, UK
Oliver Bates, Lancaster University, UK

This workshop invites participants to a dialogue on the futures of computing and wisdom. Wisdom relates to the dominant paradigms of knowledge, and elucidates what might be considered responsible and wise, and why. Through collaborative imagining, we will draw attention to the consequences of the technologies we invent and study in HCI, including non-technical dimensions (societal, ethical, normative). Deploying methods from Design Fiction we will project and reflect on the future of wise computing for 2068. Extending from the near-future projects of Design Fiction, we will deploy fictional abstracts to examine how computing, through HCI, AI, IoT, and related studies on Big Data and Smart Technologies, will create, question, and reinforce ways of knowing, doing and living.

The workshop aims to develop a cohort of perspectives on the futures of computing and/for wisdom and to critically reflect on the assumptions, methods, and tools for enabling (and disabling) such futures.

To apply to the workshop, attendees will submit a fictional abstract - an abstract from a research paper yet to be written. We will then share these fictive abstracts, and, through peer reflection, unpick critical tensions in the advancement of computing over the next decades. By focusing on an end goal (“wisdom”) instead of on particular technologies in the present (machine learning, IoT etc.), we open up for discussions of what future(s) we want computing to support, what needs to happen for us to “end up” in certain futures rather than others, and what needs to be done in the present and in the near future to maximize the potential for our work to contribute to the creation of desirable rather than undesirable futures.

Keywords: wisdom, design fiction, fictional abstracts, ethics, sustainability, politics, justice, social action, social change