HCI for Digital Civics 2018
Nothing here yet
Digital Civics and the art of not solving the problem
For many years, HCI focused on usability and accessibility of work systems and their functions where research in laboratories was used to understand the usability of interfaces and design of new systems (Kutti and Bannon, 2014). However, certain traces of the humanistic view with its importance of context and research in situ and attempts of involving people in government work could also be seen in HCI in the 80s and even earlier.
Take Care and Design the System
Human Computer Interaction researchers for a very long time have been working on solving issues to support efficiency and efficacy of working environment. With the development of the discipline and introduction of new perspectives, from social sciences and humanities, design studies, the HCI research agenda has changed. Interdisciplinarity of HCI encourages to ask questions that might be difficult to be addressed by other disciplines,
The relationship between HCI and Digital Civics
In this blog post, I will be exploring the relationship between Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Digital Civics. As Digital Civics researchers, it is important to understand the field of HCI and how it fits in with, and influences our work. Let’s begin with a look at what HCI is and its history.
From Human - Machine interaction to Smart Citizens' Choice
I can still recall to my mind the confusion created in my brain in 2010, when our professor during a discussion described to us the procedure that he had to do as a Computer Science student in Greece before the middle 80s every time that he had to submit a programming assignment.
HCI & Digital Civics
HCI- BRINGING FIELDS TOGETHER SINCE ~1980
Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is by its interdisciplinary nature at the intersection between different academic fields, as such it finds itself in a position where its legitimacy can be questioned. We can ask whether the role of HCI is that of a discipline- to build and sustain a body of knowledge –
Our bits and atoms in 2019
IS 2019 GOING TO S*#K?
Coming from an engineering background and having spent little time doing qualitative research and considering the socio-political implications of research and design and the past, I was thrown into the deep end when confronted with HCI research in the Digital Civics (DC) context.
X-Clacks Overhead: Making sense of death in the digital age
“A man is not dead while his name is still spoken”
Sir Terry Pratchett, in Going Postal
In the context of Digital Civics, we often come across the notion of “wicked problems” . Wicked problems is a way of defining those parts of life that are too complex to be easily broken into parts and solved away.
A fresher's thoughts on Digital Civics
In this blogpost I will attempt to shortly present Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) as a research field, Digital Civics (DC) as a promising branch of HCI research and present my very personal fresher’s-like thoughts and reflections on the DC agenda, the values and the methods that DC embrace.
From the Precision of Electro-Mechanical to the Ambiguity of Socio-Technical
What began with research on the interactions of individuals with computer technology, transformed to the social, and now also society. From the precision of one, to the ambiguity of the many, from a universal machine to a universe of possibilities.
Early computing pioneers were very much aware of computational limits,
What are we Doing and Why are we Doing It: The Relationship Between Digital Civics and HCI
The relationship between Digital Civics research and Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research can be tricky to pin down. Digital Civics research can be classed as an aspect, or sub-set of HCI research but I feel that the nature of Digital Civics means it includes elements that takes it far beyond a pure HCI agenda .
The Map Is Not The Territory
In Science and Sanity¸ Alfred Korzybski remarks that “A map is not the territory it represents”. This very nicely encapsulates the idea that a model of reality is not, in and of itself, reality. Rather, its value is derived from how closely it resembles reality, that we may use the model to make purposeful decisions.
That which we call a user, by any other word would smell as sour
(With apologies to Shakespeare, W. Romeo and Juliet. 1595. London)
I am intrigued as to whether the classification of the world’s 7 billion individuals as “users” has hindered the success of both HCI (Human Computer Interaction) and the Public Health aspects of Digital Civics. Not that the actual word “users” concerns me,
The relationship between HCI and Digital Civics – Urban HCI & Placemaking as synergies?
This blog post aims to explore how Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research can enhance the tools available to placemaking practises to create a richer and more engaging experience for citizens within the public realm. In turn, it looks at how placemaking can be used within Digital Civics research to create more informed citizens who feel empowered to take ownership of public space and foster a stronger sense of place amongst communities.
Hidden in plain sight
As the ‘gig economy’ and the concept of platform work has risen in visibility over the last very years with Uber and Deliveroo being perhaps the most visible among platform workers, those who work as micro taskers for services such as Amazon Mechanical Turk(AMT) have for many passed below the radar.
How tangible does something have to be to be classed as an example of tangible computing? If we were to be very literal about it we could argue that nearly all modern computing is tangible as we interact through the physical objects of (often) a keyboard and mouse, however things are a little more complex than that.
What are you leaving behind?
Once, the essence of us as individuals was rooted in our time and place. In death, our legacy was defined by what we left behind: in possessions, in our children, and the memories and stories told by those around us. A fortunate few have succeeded in transferring part of who they are to the abstract;
Measuring reality is one the ways people are trying to understand the world. Since the early development of science researches were looking for the ways to describe the phenomena’s that surrounded them. We know a lot about how to collect data, how to analyse them but most importantly, we also know what kind of knowledge we can build through the use of different research methods.
Reflections on data: the need for context
In the world of ubiquitous computing we can see (or rather we can’t) Big Data generated around us constantly. We can quantify-ourselves by tracking our sleep, calorie-intake, number of steps and even how many coffees we had this week. Sounds like a Black Mirror episode in the making. We can track our utility consumption,
Touching Data: Thoughts on Tangible Computing
The way in which we physically interact with desktop computers hasn’t changed since the introduction of the Apple Macintosh back in 1984; we point with a mouse and type with a keyboard, all actions on a computer can be accomplished with one or both of these objects. These objects are tangible,
The Not So Private Personal Informatics
The language used around HCI research into digital health and wellbeing monitors, trackers and coaches reinforces the idea of information ownership by the data subjects themselves. We read about personal informatics, quantified self, life logging, self-tracking, and personal enhancement.
To tech or not to tech?
Like every topic about technology…The question today relates to Big data and if we should be happy about this tendency in technology. All these discussions are bringing to my mind a much bigger question, which I should admit I find a bit funny; is technology good or bad? Even if I am trying to avoid keeping a strong position in discussion and say that I am sure or not about a topic,
Tangible Interfaces in Culture & Heritage
Tangible interfaces are beginning to move from research labs into physical real-world spaces, weaving their way into homes, workplaces, learning environments and the public realm .
This offers a world of opportunities to improve and deepen visitor experiences within the culture and heritage industry. Museums have always been great test beds and incubators for cutting-edge technology.
It's not too late
The wrong path?
Digital user interfaces began with a keyboard and a character-based screen. There were no virtual objects presented, at best a question appeared on the screen and you typed in data. Technology advanced to the GUI (Graphical User Interface) with a mouse to complement the keyboard –
Press Control + F. Type “Tangible computing”. Click on search.
Computer-based activities have been changing the way we act, communicate, acquire information, drive, love, share thoughts, like things, engage with politics, play, consume, exercise, take revenge, build personas etc.
According to Paul Dourish  the majority of the computers we as humans, spend a lot of time with,
Opening the blackbox
Discussions over interpretations of the reality seem over-talked for many. They are long, nuanced and very often the point they make seems so small that it almost looks like splitting hairs. After reading about Lucy Suchman’s concept of Situated Action, I have realised that opening the door for new interpretations is also a very courageous thing to do.
CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA noCAPTCHA
We all have, in one case or another, been asked to solve one of these annoying, distorted text CAPTCHA puzzles to prove we are not an elephant (or robots in this case). As first conceived by Luis von Ahn, Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (a.k.a.
"They’ve completely missed the nontechnical part of what ubiquitous computing is all about.”
The idea that technologies ‘weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it’ is one that is familiar to many today.
For some this might be the Uber home at the end of the evening, or the Deliveroo for lunch. For those on the other side of this service provider/recipient relationship its logging on in the hope that today you will receive enough work to feed your family and keep a roof over your head.
Social computing: are we really alone together?
As technology has become more ubiquitous with the prevalence of smartphones, coupled with the rise of social media, we can connect to a broader social network and form friendships more easily with people from around the world. With this rise though, there has been an increase in social isolation, human-to-human connection without a technological medium appears to be reduced as we see people buried in their devices almost ignoring the people around them.
Just say "I agree"!
Only the last two years online privacy is a topic that started problematizing the masses. During 2016 the GDPR regulation was adopted by the European parliament and a massive campaign to inform the individuals about the guidelines before the typical deadline of adoption in May 2018 took place.
Learning Styles as Planning, and Learning Styles as Situated Action
Continuing my thoughts about how learning styles could affect people’s encounters with machines, I wanted to examine Suchman’s Planning and Situated Action (1987 and 2007) in an educational context. Curriculum as experienced by humans might have similarities that can help inform about interaction as experienced between individual and groups of humans and machines.
A Paradigm Shift?
Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is a discipline at the intersection of many fields, incorporating ideas from disciplines including computer science, psychology and design to name a few. This can make defining what counts as ‘good’ HCI research difficult as each field has its own ways of doing research and doesn’t always accept other methods as being equally applicable.
Crowd Design: Engine of Innovation
The area of crowdwork has developed so swiftly that we’re spoilt for choice in terms of crowdsourcing platforms. Irani and Silberman  offer an analysis of one. Born in 2005 – Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) acts as a meeting point for requesters (employers) who want to outsource jobs split into micro tasks,
To stream or not to stream? The legal issues around livestreaming sports and culture events
Live streaming video is a growing trend and seems only set to continue to grow over the coming years. It is seen as offering a real, authentic inter-human connection (Tang, 2016) as well as offering an alternative to traditional media outlets. With the rise of streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat and the big players of Facebook,
What meaning is there to be found in online discussion?
Users of the internet are exposed to the opinions of thousands of individuals, often without the slightest introduction or any other evidence of their existence. Most of us will happily accept exchanges that take place on the internet as though we witnessed the interaction taking place in front of us.
You just got accepted in a MRes in Digital Civics. Friends congratulate you as your mum does; except she adds “ shouldn’t you change this facebook profile photo of yourself? Digital Civics sounds related to computers and stuff…and people there…and shouldn’t you stop posting those skateboarding videos? …this friend of you…always in your photos…people might think is your boyfriend or something…’’
Wang et al.
Situated Action - So What?
According to Suchman’s (2006) idea of situated action, plans are not the be-all and end-all of human behaviour. Whilst we may make plans, and use them as tools to inform our actions, no plan we can (practically) create could possibly account for every situation. There is always the chance that the course we chart will take us into the proverbial storm,
There are no computers, anywhere
When we interact with these technology filled boxes, I see that we are using the box as a proxy for the host of people that brought it into being. We use this proxy to attempt to understand & respond to the designers’ asking us to choose between which button to click,
'Cause we are Living in a Ubicomp World*
*with apologies to Madonna!
The field of ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) is an odd one. Ever since Weiser published his seminal article The Computer for the 21st Century  (widely regarded as the paper which launched the ubicomp research agenda) researchers have been chasing a world of ever more integrated and seamless technologies which are always in the tantalisingly close,
People over profit
Human Computer Interaction, Digital Civics and the relationship between academia and the recognition of what is a science and what is not raises a number of significant questions that have no simple answers. However, for me the issues that matter more relate to why Digital Civics researchers do what they do.
Why we play games the way we do?
When asked about HCI, I often wonder what would best explain the field to an outsider. I find myself turning to games quiet often to exemplify the interactivity that a piece of software can have. As a gamer myself I thought I would use games again to delve into an important aspect of interactivity and interfacing;
Invasively Pervasive: Ubiquitous Computing Today
The computing landscape of 2018 is vastly different to that of 1991, yet what we see and work with on a daily basis isn’t a far cry from the world described in Mark Weiser’s seminal paper “The Computer for the 21st Century”.
1991 saw the launch of the World Wide Web to the public along with the introduction of the open-source operating system Linux,
HCI and the problem-solving problem
What is HCI? And more to the point, what is good quality HCI research? The foregrounding of these questions seems to pinpoint an overriding insecurity that allows for a jockeying for position in terms of finding a unified approach. Oulasvirta and Hornbaek  in their paper HCI Research as Problem-Solving,
Lost in interpretation!
At its simplest, we could easily assume that Human-Computer Interaction is the research related to the good “communication” between Humans and Computers. Of course, this assumption is quite general except if we could give an absolute definition to what is human and what is a computer.
In this article I am trying to find out which words I should use,
Sal needs a hammer
Weiser envisioned a Ubicomp world in which technology is an extension of humans; not a set of tools but an indistinguishable part of human life . In this paradigm technology fades; not physically (brands should be visible) but functionally .
We might not be yet at this point that all things are sensored and interconnected but we are part of an experiential landscape loaded with data meant to improve the way we experience life.
Ubiquitous Computing – in whose hands?
Computers have become so intertwined in our everyday lives, and whilst there are many obvious benefits to these technological advancements, it has led some to believe that an Orwellian future with complete state control and surveillance in every aspect of our lives is not that farfetched after all.
This idea that computers are so integrated into our everyday lives that we no longer notice their presence,
Where’s the Human in Human Computer Interaction?
If HCI is concerned about people interacting with technology, about narrowing that gap , then why do we witness it failing so often? I define ’failing’ in this context as where our interfaces do not provide a conduit for us to exploit the technology,
Ubicomp as a research topic: Time of death, 2012
In his paper “What Next, Ubicomp?” , Gregory Abowd makes a carefully reasoned argument for declaring the beginning of the end for the research topic of ubiquitous computing (ubicomp). A veteran of the field himself, Abowd chose 2012, 21 years after the publication of Mark Weiser’s “The Computer for the 21st Century” ,
The Interpretation of HCI
HCI as an encounter
Human Computer Interaction (HCI) turns out to be a Pandora’s Box of cross-disciplinary (Reeves, 2015) viewpoints, ideas, approaches, methods and theories, with a very wide range of potential research topics. The features of ambiguity (Gaver et al, 2003) and flexibility in how people interpret their computer technology encounters (Sengers and Gaver,
What Are We Studying, Anyway?
When researching human-computer interactions, the same phenomenon can be approached in many different ways. Take, for example, the common habit of closing a pop-up dialog (such as might appear on a webpage or in an app when taking some irreversible action) without reading it. Since, presumably, the designer put that information there for a reason and would like the user to see it,
What HCI Can Learn From a 2001 Horror Game
In their paper ‘Ambiguity as a Resource for Design’, Gaver et al. present the idea that ambiguity (often considered something to be avoided or minimised) can be seen as an opportunity to affect perceptions and drive meaningful user engagement. In the course of the article, they argue that “ambiguity can make a virtue out of technical limitations”.