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Monika Buscher <[log in to unmask]>
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Monika Buscher <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 3 Dec 2006 16:05:38 +0000
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Apologies for multiple postings of this message


"Designing for palpability"

Pervasive 2007, the Fifth International Conference on Pervasive 
Computing, May 13-16, 2007, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Workshop URL:


Pervasive computing has taken computing beyond comprehensive systems 
into a multitude of devices and environments. In some sense this makes 
the computer disappear (Weiser 1991) and it enables ‘bricolage’ of 
disparate elements. However, people find it hard to realise the 
potential of pervasive computing. Which devices, services or resources 
are the best ones to use in a given situation? How to address breakdown? 
What to do when surrounded by potentially thousands of services and 
devices one could use? What when safety or privacy matters? To engage 
pervasive computing technologies effectively and creatively, people need 
to be able to notice and make sense of actual and potential 
computational processes, states, affordances and dependencies. They need 
to be able to do so in ways that are appropriate for their specific 
situation, their level of computer ‘literacy’ and interest.

For us, an important element of what is needed is captured by the word 
‘palpable’, especially in its meaning of 'plainly observable', 
'noticeable, 'manifest, obvious, clear'. Palpability is not a property 
of the technology itself, but an effect of people's engagement with 
technologies, objects, and environments. For designers of pervasive 
computing, this means that they cannot design palpability into 
technologies. But they can design for palpability, to support people in 
making computing palpable. Doing so challenges a number of concepts 
introduced with the vision for pervasive computing. For example, 
'invisibility', 'ambient intelligence', 'autonomy' and 
'(de-)composition' - turn out to require respecification with regard to 
people's practices of using technologies at work, and in everyday life 
and play. Notions like inspection, experimentation, translation, 
emergent use, etc. become important.


For this workshop we invite 3-5 page position/design example papers that 
explore how one might design for ‘palpability’. Our own approach is 
informed through ethnographic studies and participatory design and 
focuses on the development of architectural support and a vision for 
‘palpable’ pervasive computing. Questions contributors might wish to 
address include:

* How do people make things 'palpable' for themselves and others? E.g. 
fieldstudies of human-computer interaction, but also practices within 
the sciences, medicine, the arts or any other relevant area of human 
practice. Theoretical or philosophical submissions are also welcome.
* What technical possibilities exist? E.g. reviews and reports of 
existing approaches, for example, computational reflection, 
accountability, seamful design, design for dependability, palpable computing
* What are the experiences with existing technical approaches?
* How can we understand, and create new resonances, between human and 
machine, actual and potential, behaviour?
* Which design methods are best suited to addressing the challenges? 
E.g. reports and reflections on methodological innovations, or new 
challenges for traditional methods

The aim of this workshop is to bring together experts from different 
disciplines and approaches to develop the state-of-the-art in this 
emerging field of research and design. We may pursue opportunities to 
publish a special issue journal edition. Participation is limited to 30 
participants. Position papers will be circulated beforehand. It is 
possible to participate without submitting a paper. Please get in touch.

Important Dates:

February 16, 2007: Deadline for Position/Design example Paper (3-5 
pages) submissions
March 2, 2007: Notification of accepted Proposals, registration for the 
May 13, 2007: Palpable Computing Workshop and Pervasive 2007 conference

Programme Committee:

Peter Andersen
Monika Büscher, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK
Christian Heath, King’s College, London, UK
Mads Ingstrup, Computer Science Department, Aarhus University, Denmark
Morten Kyng, Computer Science Department, Aarhus University, Denmark
Preben Mogensen, Computer Science Department, Aarhus University, Denmark
Dan Shapiro, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK

Contact: [log in to unmask], or [log in to unmask]

Monika Buscher
Senior Research Fellow
Department of Sociology
Lancaster University

Tel: +44 (0)1943 604944
Mobile: +44 (0)7890847166
email: [log in to unmask]

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