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Call for Extended Abstracts - Special Issue of the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS) on Human-food interaction: Designing computer systems for food in everyday life

Practices surrounding food production and consumption have a pervasive influence on our lives and society as a whole.  Increasingly technology is playing a role in shaping these practices from the way food is grown and produced and distributed through to the ways that we source, prepare and ultimately consume and experience food in a variety of contexts. For example, sensors and monitors are used to make food production more efficient and more sustainable. Online supermarket shopping has offered us new possibilities for the way that we source our food.  Social media have led to curious, but popular, emerging practices around food, such as the posting of pictures of mouthwatering food about to be consumed.  Restaurants are increasingly subject to issues of reputation and recommendation enabled through a variety of web and mobile applications.  A range of apps can help us understand ingredients of various products, whether they are healthy, dangerous (e.g. for those with allergies) or whether they have been sustainably sourced from local producers.  Technology has also been used to explore the sensorial experimentations with food, for example with the use of MP3 players and headphones to play sounds that evoke particular settings or memories. Within restaurants, technology is being used to transform the workflows of service and ordering, for example through the use of PDA and tablet devices and even digital table surfaces.  In the home technology is transforming the ways that mealtimes are organized and conducted in both positive and negative ways - the humble television has been hugely impactful here but other mobile and networked technologies are gradually infiltrating family mealtime to sometimes detrimental effects on the very social and family cohesion that many look to mealtimes to nurture.  On the other hand technologies are also being used to facilitate such social cohesion across distance, for instance, through the use of everyday video conferencing technologies.

Accompanying this increasing role of technology in our food related practices, there has been a growing interest from the HCI community in understanding these intersections between technology and food with a view to how we might design new and meaningful practices and experiences.  Importantly here, the community has begun to take a multifaceted approach to these concerns.  On the one hand, it concerns itself with where technology can play a role in the pragmatics of food production, and necessities of nutritional consumption - helping to solve particular problems or to provide assistive capabilities that overcome certain limitations among users.  But it has also started to engage with more "celebratory" aspects of our food practices that recognize the social and cultural significance of our food practices  - where shared mealtimes are significant social occasions used to forge relationships, manage identity, exchange narratives and help in the social construction of shared knowledge, tradition and values.  Understanding how new technologies can contribute to or hinder these social and cultural aspects is also becoming and important concern.

Building on the concerns of CHI2012 workshop Food and Interaction Design, the aim of the special issue is to bring together the many strands of empirical research in the emerging intersection between human-food and human-technology interaction. This special issue focuses on the food practices of everyday life, where individuals eat, cook, grow, shop, share and communicate about food. We identify three broad themes from which we seek high-quality, innovative, and thought provoking research: sustainability; health and wellbeing; social and sensorial experiences surrounding food. We explore how computer systems can be used to raise awareness of and support or change food related practices but also where they can be used to support and elicit creative, intimate, and, playful responses in social environments.

We call for empirical studies of computer systems for the wide variety of food practices in human-food interaction. A non-exhaustive list of topics of interest includes:

- Methods and systems for the capture and probing of food practices
- How technology is used to enhance sensory and experiential aspects of food consumption
- Approaches to evaluating and measuring technological impact in food practices and systems
- Discussions of technologies to facilitate social experiences of food culture 
- Culturally specific food practices and related uses of technologies
- Spatial and location-based technologies to help create particular food-related experiences
- Technologies to support small-scale and urban agriculture
- Community engagement strategies surrounding food
- Personalisation and recommendation systems to support food choices
- Systems for increasing food chain transparency
- Playful and creative engagement in food performances

Papers addressing theoretical issues will only be considered where the contribution is exceptional.


Paper submission
Authors are requested to submit an extended abstract (up to 1000 words) by 27th July. Proposals should outline the concrete research contributions of a full paper. Abstracts will be reviewed and accepted proposals will be invited to submit a full paper.  All submissions should be made to the IJHCS submission system at http://ees.elsevier.com/ijhcs selecting "Special Issue: Human Food Interaction" as the Article Type. Full manuscripts should be submitted according to the IJHCS Guide for authors and will be blind refereed. Articles must be based on original research, although extended versions of published conference papers may be acceptable if they contain at least 50% new material. All manuscripts should be submitted online. The IJHCS Guide for authors and online submission is available at http://ees.elsevier.com/ijhcs. 

Key dates
Deadline for abstracts: 27th July 2012
Invitation to authors to submit full paper: 31st August 2012
Full papers due: 9th November 2012
Author notification: 11th January 2013
Revised papers due: 1st March 2013

Guest editors
Rob Comber, Culture Lab, Newcastle University, UK ([log in to unmask])
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi, Urban Informatics Research Lab, Queensland University of Technology, Australia ([log in to unmask])
Jettie Hoonhout, Human Interaction and Experiences Group, Philips Research, Eindhoven, the Netherlands ([log in to unmask])
Kenton O'Hara, Socio-Digital Systems Group, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK ([log in to unmask])

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