Situating Ubiquitous Computing in Everyday Life: Bridging the Social and Technical Divide
Workshop to be held at Ubicomp 2005, Tokyo, Japan, 11 September 2005
Extended Submission Deadline:
Workshop Date: 11 September 2005
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Format according to Springer-Verlag LNCS Authors' instructions page
Call for Position Papers
"The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it. (Mark Weiser, "The Computer for the Twenty First Century")
If we take Weiser's vision seriously, then it is clear that the ultimate challenge for ubiquitous computing is to weave or situate new technologies into the very fabric of everyday life. Despite a number of impressive efforts developing and evaluating prototype systems, many researchers will no doubt recognize that Ubicomp demonstrations are nevertheless very distinguishable. Such systems have yet to disappear or become an unremarkable feature of everyday life - this, we suggest, largely being a result of where emphasis is placed in the development of ubiquitous computing systems. Although attempts have been made to understand the fabric of everyday life of target users, emphasis to date has primarily been placed on demonstrating theoretical principles from computer science and the capabilities of new ubiquitous technologies. Given the nascent state of the field, this has been an understandable first phase of growth. Nonetheless, with the movement of computing research away from the workplace and its diversification into novel areas of everyday life, the time is ripe for serious reflection on the nature of everyday life and its importance to the ongoing development of ubiquitous computing systems.
What we are suggesting then is that there is a distinct and pressing need for Ubicomp to reconsider its priorities for the field to develop along the path envisioned by Weiser. This will involve rethinking current development strategies, which primarily focus on developing more novel, scalable and reliable solutions, to incorporate a complementary strand of research that is concerned to understand the social character of everyday life. The purpose of this complementary strand of work will be to inform the development of technologies that resonate with the ordinary activities that lend a setting its everyday nature.
Without exception new technologies are made at home or woven into everyday life by situating them into a world (or more prosaically a setting) that has whatever organization it already has. The technology purchase relies on its capacity to be situated in and amongst that organization. We are suggesting, then, that understanding the socially organized character of a setting and its activities is a matter of central importance to the development of ubiquitous computing for, as Weiser himself observed, the field should be concerned with making machines fit the human environment, instead of forcing humans to enter theirs.
Thus, we invite position papers from an interdisciplinary mix of participants who investigate and develop ubiquitous computing that bridges the social and technical divide. Contributions from those already using identified themes to inform their research, or who have an active interest in doing so, will be especially welcome.
As researchers and developers our sense is that what is needed are new frameworks, methodologies, and empirical studies to illustrate ways in which the social and the technical may be combined to enable ubiquitous computing to be made at home in everyday settings of use. This will require close and ongoing cooperation between social and cultural analysts, computer scientists, and engineers. To foster such collaboration we propose a workshop programme that brings participants together to consider themes of broad relevance:
Themes are offered as suggestions for researchers in the field to consider. Other themes will be considered upon submission. However, inclusion in the workshop must of necessity be governed by the potential for a paper to generate common debate. We envisage that the breadth of themes demands a relatively large workshop of the order of 15-20 participants. The aim is to foster and promote debate and dialogue among analytic, scientific, and engineering communities involved in ubiquitous computing. Attendance will be based on position papers that clearly explicate a particular perspective on a theme of general social and technical relevance and are founded upon experience of work in this field. Selection will be by the organizers in consultation with a series of invited experts who have been instrumental in the evolution of ubiquitous computing as a distinct field of research.
Papers will not exceed two sides of A4 paper and adhere to the guidelines for full papers for Ubicomp 2005. Papers should be formatted according to Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) format - templates can be found at Springer-Verlag LNCS Authors' instructions page. Papers should be submitted electronically in PDF format to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 18 July 2005. Authors of accepted papers will be notified on 25 July 2005. Workshop participants will need to register for the Ubicomp 2005 conference. Further details can be found at http://ubicomp.org/ubicomp2005/.
The workshop will be structured around a series of short presentations selected from accepted position papers. The intention is that presentations will represent contrasting social and technical views, allowing space for debate and discussion. The aim is to begin to formulate and document the different perspectives related to situating ubiquitous computing in everyday life and to begin to outline broad themes of common concern that might be explored in an interdisciplinary fashion to bridge the socio-technical divide. The broad structure of the full-day workshop will be as follows:
Optional gathering for evening meal with organizers and participants is suggested.
This workshop brings together organizers with considerable experience in exploring these issues in a multidisciplinary manner where the development of technologies is informed from understanding social practice through empirical studies.
Michael A. Evans, from the Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University and (starting August, 2005) the Instructional Technology Program at Virginia Tech, studies and designs ubiquitous computing artifacts and environments. Of particular interest is the refinement of frameworks and methodologies to analyze collaboration in distributed settings and to inform design. Projects include courseware for globally distributed teams of high school students, tangible interfaces for collaborative learning, and knowledge management systems for the US Navy.
Andy Crabtree, from the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham has worked in a number of projects where the design and development of ubiquitous computing arrangements have been informed from studies of use. This has included the use of these technologies to provide support for tourists in the street, to support on the street gaming, and for domestic environments.
Mike Fraser, from the Mobile and Wearable Computing Group at the University of Bristol, is interested in the social and collaborative aspects of mobile, distributed and ubiquitous systems. Projects include work on distributed multimodal interaction through video and haptic systems, distributed support for the social science research, and the design, construction and use of diverse mobile systems in everyday and urban settings.
Peter Tolmie, from the Work Practice Technology Group at Xerox Research Centre Europe in Grenoble, has worked on a range of design and development projects informed by work practice studies. These projects have centred upon support for collaborative activities across distributed organizations in relation to many concerns such as office work, adaptive work processes, and technical support.
Rick McMullen, from the Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University, is Director and Principal Scientist of the Knowledge Acquisition and Projection Lab. His research areas include human-machine solutions for knowledge management, organizational informatics and applications of sensor networks.
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