Beki Grinter

Posts Tagged ‘hcid’

A community for HCID/4D

In discipline, HCI, ICT4D, research on May 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I had a number of conversations with people about my last post on HCI4D (for those of you who didn’t read it it was a short reflection on the role that the 4 plays in ICT4D and its implications for HCID/HCI4D). I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who wrote to me and engaged me in these discussions, as usual I learnt a lot. And this post is a reflection of some of what I learnt, and some thoughts about what I think might be done.

I learnt that there has been some discussion about forming a community (a la UIST and CSCW) within SIGCHI focused on HCI4D. As part of that the name was discussed. Several things about it, including the term Development and the question of its relationship to HCI. I will try to summarize the debates as I understand them. Development is a concept with a long, complicated, and problematic history. Development for who, by whom, how, with what objective (asking any of these questions when faced with the term development gets at some of the issues). The relationship concern is about what it means to separate (which a community does, in a way—it marks a set of things as being some how of the same and different from others) HCI4D from HCI. Also there are definitional boundary challenges, what is the set. For example, as I have mentioned before, I still find it strange that ICTD can only happen some countries and not others.

These are real concerns. And I wonder whether rather than engaging them as a set of things that make the formation of a community complicated, they might be precisely the reasons to create a community.

As I understand it communities are organizational tools. They support the growth and awareness of a collection of concerns. And HCI4D is a really interesting space to discuss the types of issues that the very discussions about its name have raised. Development is a complicated term historically and that history has impact on what we do in contemporary practice. But it doesn’t mean that contemporary practice shouldn’t be explored and its lessons understood, and used to reflect back onto Development (and whether indeed what is being done qualifies or whether the agenda is different, and whose agenda it is, and the role of location, partnerships and so forth). A community could give Development a central place in their agenda.

Concerning the relational boundaries, I also think that the value a community could bring is through reflection on why the distinction was drawn, whether its the right distinction, and so forth. In other words use the feeling that it is complicated to split whatever it is we do into HCI and HCID/4D as a point of reflection on what are attempting to accomplish, or how it might have arisen. One thing that seems different to me is failure. There seems a lot more willingness to discuss failures in the HCID/4D context. Is that because there are more of them? Or has HCI constructed a discipline in which failure is not a learning opportunity but a paper that was not able to be published? I think another lesson that might come out of comparing the two is methodological, I think some of the methods that we’ve developed in HCI do not import straightforwardly into HCID/4D, but they were never described as having limitations.

Finally, I think the project of examining the constituencies served by HCI could be done through HCI4D. Its presence suggests that HCI has focused on a subset of people (hence the problems with methods). But it makes it more visible. In the end I think a regional grouping of people is tricky and will be tricky for ICTD/HCID also. However, I think a community makes it more visible, and opens it up for discussion, and I feel that that is something worth discussing.

I suppose what I am saying in a rather clumsy way is that its the very concerns about HCID/4D that I think make it interesting to create community around. Not a community that is awkward about their presence, but uses these challenges as motivating concerns for reflection and discussion.



In discipline, HCI, ICT4D, research on May 24, 2012 at 11:05 am

One of the many things I’ve learnt as I have learnt more about ICTD is that there is an intentionality to the presence of the 4 in some of the formulations of the name. In other words, Information and Communications Technologies and Development is different from Information and Communications for Development. And its not just difference in words, the choice means something.

Information and Communications Technologies and Development concerns the relationship between technologies (whether in use, or being built) and development. By contrast, Information and Communications Technologies for Development is the study of what should be done and how it should be done. It ties research to the practice and takes a stronger moral stand about the outcome, that something should actually happen.

I like this because of the degree of intentionality it gives to the process of doing research and its outcomes for the people who participate in that work. Of course you can see the same type of intentionally in participatory design, action research and in some of the recent discussions about Value Sensitive Design. But the intentionality is tied to the methods used, its about the discipline itself, the corpus of knowledge and the common shared values of the community.

In HCI the term HCI4D has been gaining increasing traction—I have not seen the term HCID in use—but perhaps its time to have the same type of discussion about whether we are for or and. And this discussion would happen at an interesting time in HCI, as I have heard other discussions about whether there is a common core in the field, and if so what it is that unites the collection of very diverse activities in HCI.

HCI4D or HCID? Values

In discipline, empirical, HCI, ICT4D, research on June 27, 2011 at 8:38 am

In some of the Information and Communications Technologies for/and Development (ICT4D, ICTD) an important distinction is drawn between whether it is for or and. To paraphrase Tim Unwin, ICTD (i.e., and) has foci of what is, and what can be done. ICT4D asks critically, what should be done and how should we do it? While both entail a degree of social change (asking what can be done), ICT4D has a much stronger moral agenda of making change.

As HCI becomes increasingly interested in the “Global South” so we’ll be asking whether we’re going to do HCID or HCI4D. I think we’ve adopted the label HCI4D, but for some within the community that means as it does in ICT4D. See for example, Ho et al. in the special issue of ITID focused on HCI4D. I wonder whether the community at large has internalized the distinction, do we use HCI4D because it is the most popular term or does it reflect our stance?

There has long been a recognition that values matter in design. But recently, I am under the impression that there’s more attention to this, and to questioning whose values. It comes in a variety of forms. First there are efforts like HCI4D that for some are very intentional moral as well as scientific positions on the role of design. Second, there are critics of persuasive computing. For example, Purpura et al.’s Fit4Life paper that examines the principles of persuasive design applied to their logical conclusion on a technology for individual weight management. (link to the paper One of the things I very much like about this paper, and another piece by Maitland et. al. is that they both get at the important point that persuasive computing is taking a moral position (positing what change is right) and they both want to have a discussion about the consequences of that. And third, I just finished reading Shaowen and Jeff Bardzell’s CHI paper (well one of them, I think they could have had their own session) on Feminist design. One contribution of a feminist approach is to navigate a path between the distanced “truth” of science and an active agenda of social change.

As I write I think that values may not be the right term here, although I am at a loss for something better. I am struck I suppose in all of these by a tension between traditional notions of science, pursuit of knowledge, and the far more morally complex terrain that opens up when we come to design. HCID or HCI4D? Scholars in this area are asking us to take a position, but I walked away from CHI this year thinking that there are more voices in this arena than just those associated with the Global South.