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Connor Graham <[log in to unmask]>
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Connor Graham <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 2 Jun 2007 02:37:16 -0400
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Workshop on Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies (simtech workshop), University of
Melbourne, 26th - 27th November, funded by European Microsoft Research Fellowship.
Contributions in the form of 4 page position papers (ACM SIG format) are invited for a one and a
half day workshop at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

"That's a funny kind of thing, in which each new object becomes the occasion for seeing again
what we can see anywhere; seeing people's nastiness or goodness or all the rest, when they do
this initially technical job of talking over the phone. The technical apparatus is, then, being made
at home with the rest of our world. And it's a thing that's routinely being done, and it's the source
for the failures of technocratic dreams that if only we introduced some fantastic new
communication machine the world will be transformed. Where what happens is that the object is
made at home in the world that has whatever organization it already has." Harvey Sacks,

This one and a half day workshop, supported by Mark Rouncefield's European Microsoft Fellowship
"Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies", and preceding the 2007 Australasian Conference
on Computer-Human Interaction (OzCHI'07) is responding to the proliferation and developing
constellations of 'social technologies' in people's everyday lives. These technologies are often
simple, minimalist and 'loose' and yet support richly layered social interactions which are
sustained and develop across time, place, and even culture.

This workshop will centre around the social interaction around three main classes of 'mundane
technologies' - mobile technologies, domestic technologies and management technologies. We do
not regard these as mutually exclusive categories and, indeed, an additional interest for us is how
particular technologies can blur category boundaries and operate across different situations. Our
particular interest is around the use of digital photos (e.g. mobile phone cameras), the generation
digital documents of life (e.g. blogs, Web pages, text messages, phone call logs) and office
technologies (e.g. wordprocessors, email, calendar applications) by leaders and, more generally, in
everyday life. Put simply, we are interested in exploring 'real' studies of quite ordinary
technologies that have already been appropriated (Carroll et al., 2002), domesticated (Silverstone,
1991) and subsumed into the fabric of family, social and organisational life and do particular
work: maintaining a sense of community; assisting with everyday decision-making; maintaining
"social translucence" (Erikson and Kellogg, 2000); providing channels for emotional labour; and so
on. We also have a strong interest in how technology supports or fails to support the crossing of
boundaries in everyday life - between home, work, public and 'third places' - and how we (use
technology to) deal with the 'in-betweeness' of life. We define 'mundane technologies' as those
quite unremarkable technologies that, given the context in which they operate, have been 'made
at home', have become 'ordinary', in plain view yet invisible because they are, indeed, part of the
organisation already in place.

Professor Rob Procter: Rob is Research Director for the newly created National Centre for e-Social
Science at the University of Manchester. Rob's research interests concern socio-technical issues in
the design, implementation, evaluation and use of interactive computer systems, with a particular
emphasis on ethnomethodologically-informed ethnographic studies of work practices, computer-
supported cooperative work and participatory design.
Dr Keith Cheverst: Keith is a Senior Lecturer in the Computing Department at Lancaster University.
Keith's research interests lie in the user centered design and evaluation of interactive systems that
utilise mobile and/or ubiquitous computing technologies.
Dr Dave Randall: Dave is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Manchester
Metropolitan University. Dave's key research interests concern ethnography and design and
computer-supported cooperative work.

Our primary interest is in understanding how 'mundane technologies' really work in people's lives.
We are concerned with (but are certainly not restricted to) answering questions like:
- What do people do to maintain a sense of community through blogging?
- What is the role of digital photo sharing in family life, if any?
- How do managers operate across technologies (e.g. email, mobile phone, Word, Excel) to lead in
their organisations and what does each technology afford for them?

One of our secondary interests is how mundane technologies can be useful methodological
instruments in the ethnographic enterprise and how they can be combined with other, more
'traditional' approaches in social science research, to inform how technology is used and how
practices, rhythms and routines are structured around technology to get work done. Our
assumption is that these 'mundane technologies' are at a mature level of adoption, with seemingly
well worked-out affordances so that their use has become so tightly entwined with activity and
social interaction as to be almost invisible and thus, difficult to study and to be surprised by. We
are also convinced that the digital trails left my individuals as they traverse their everyday lived
and what people slough and shed via mundane technologies can provide real insights for the
ethnographic enterprise: browser histories, mobile phone logs, temporary files generated on-the-
fly etc.. We are interested in how these 'digital footprints' can be provide insights into people's use
of technology. Additional concerns are: how such technologies are 'made at home in the world';
the social translucence afforded by such 'mundane technologies'; how they are hashed together
with other technologies to get work done: how they are reconfigured over time as functionality
evolves, the context of use changes etc.

Among other things, we want to:
- understand the relationship between social interaction and mundane technologies better;
- understand the role of mundane technologies in everyday life better;
- develop a greater understanding of particular mundane technologies in domestic, mobile and
management settings.

Attendance at this workshop will be via (a) submission(s) only (although multiple authors can
attend). Papers should address the themes and interests of the workshop (see above) and can
include position pieces, work-in-progress, new themes with old data, early reports from the field,
and initial case study findings. Papers should be 4 pages in length and accord with the ACM SIG
format. All submissions will be reviewed and selected on the basis of their relevance and interest.

Successful authors will be invited to present (10 minutes) and discuss (5-10 minutes) their papers
during the first day of the workshop. The second, half day of the workshop will focus on
developing the themes and papers of the first day. The first day will consist of some formal talk
and questioning, with the second consolidating the ideas in papers towards further publication.
Initially we will aim at a special issue of a journal. Eventually we intend to publish an edited book
from the themes and papers seeded at the workshop.

Papers due:
Monday 10th September 2400 (EST)
To: cgraham [at]
Acceptance notification:
Monday 1st October
Accepted papers available:
Monday 22nd October
Workshop preliminaries:
Sunday 25th November
Workshop registration:
Monday 26th November

Workshop Chairs
Connor Graham, Researcher, Computing Department, Lancaster University and Honorary Fellow,
Department of Information Systems, University of Melbourne.
Mark Rouncefield, Senior Research Fellow, Computing Department, Lancaster University and
European Microsoft Research Fellow, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK.
Melbourne Chair
Peter Benda from the Department of Information Systems at the University of Melbourne
For matters concerning the workshop, please contact Connor Graham at cgraham [at]
Program Committee (provisional)
Frank Vetere, Martin Gibbs, Christine Satchell and Wally Smith from the Department of Information
Systems at the University of Melbourne

The cost to attend this one and a half day workshop is AUS$200. This will include attendance at
the workshop sessions, materials, refreshments and a workshop dinner.

Initially we will aim at a special issue of a journal. Eventually we intend to publish an edited book
from the themes and papers seeded at the workshop.

Please contact Connor Graham for further information: cgraham [at]

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