Posted to the Ethnos Project by on October 26th, 2011

This workshop is one of 15 that will be part of the 2012 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. CSCW 2012 will be the fifteenth CSCW conference and will be held February 11-15, 2012, in Bellevue, just nine miles from Seattle, Washington, USA. These workshops are collaborative working sessions, and to attend a workshop you must first submit a position paper to the workshop organizers.

Source for the information below can be found here:

Key Dates

November 25, 2011: Submissions due


Users in the developing world continue to appropriate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in pioneering ways. Take, M-Pesa, the popular mobile money transfer system developed in Kenya. This example demonstrates how innovative applications emerge from users in resource-constrained settings. The goals of our workshop are twofold: 1) to uncover more of these examples and 2) to discuss how they can influence design in developed countries. We welcome submissions that reveal innovative ICT practices occurring among marginalized populations, including those in developing countries, the urban homeless, rural Americans, migrant communities, and so forth. In addition to position papers, we encourage photo- or video-essays that highlight innovative uses of ICT among marginalized users. Practitioners, designers, and other who do not typically present their work at academic conferences are highly encouraged to submit to the workshop.

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The activities in this workshop will focus on the following themes:

Uncovering examples of innovative ICT practices outside of the “mainstream” user-base: “Hackers” and other users are adapting existing objects, creatively re-using materials to fit specific local circumstances. Simple examples, such as the re-use of water bottle caps, have the potential to offer a counter-narrative to the primacy of the designer’s vision in ICT design. This re-use of materials contrasts with advertising that encourages us to upgrade hardware in order to take advantage of next-generation services.

Questioning the dualistic schemes such as “developed” and “developing” regions: Uncovering marginalized users’ innovative ICT practices contributes to HCI4D discourse by surfacing questions about what countries should (and should not) be categorized as “developing.”  We want to build on Irani and her colleagues’ concerns about the term “development” in HCI4D discourse. Specifically, they argue the rhetoric underlying current HCI4D research positions low-income countries as the passive recipients and consumers of products from “developed” regions. Our focus on reciprocity will highlight the benefits of an active two-way exchange and problematize the idea of “development” as a unilateral process. As examples of the benefits of this reciprocity, consider M-Pesa, a popular mobile-based money transfer service, which demonstrates how innovations taking place in developing countries can have a positive impact for users all over the world. Using the mobile phone as a banking system originated in Kenya, is now popular throughout Japan, and is now beginning to be available in the U.S.

Exploring alternatives to designing for differences: Focusing on reciprocity in CSCW research will allow us to uncover similarities between various contexts and user groups which at first glance may seem very different. Focusing on similarities rather than differences in an increasingly interconnected world is one way to uncover the underlying motives that drive ICT collaboration across the planet.

Ideas for incorporating the lessons learned in HCI4D Research and Design into mainstream CSCW/HCI: Within CSCW and related communities (e.g., HCI and UbiComp) there is a tendency to imagine a future filled with new technologies. In contrast, prior HCI4D research suggests users in developing regions work to design systems that extract more functionality from existing or previous generation hardware [5] and maintain computing devices rather than discarding them. These examples have clear implications for CSCW/HCI researcher interested in sustainable product design and demonstrate that much can be learned from marginalized users current ICT practices.

Call for Submissions

We welcome submissions that focus on innovative ICT practices that happen among populations and in regions that are not usually consulted in the technology design process. We are especially interested in showcasing the innovative ways in which marginalized users react to the techno-social world around them. Examples may include creative re-use of materials or ingenious ICT practices that are common in developing countries that have implications for creating technologies in the developed world. Submissions can take the form of:

1. Photo- or video-essays that document instances of innovation and adaptation of ICT by non-mainstream users in emerging and/or developed regions.

2. Fieldwork narratives that highlight interesting uses of ICT among non-mainstream users.

3. Position papers that discuss issues of appropriation, circulation, and innovation of ICTs in marginalized contexts.

4. Position papers that examine the opportunities and challenges of collaboration between visiting designers or developers and local organizations in emerging regions.

5. Position papers describing how specific themes from HCI4D research that could be useful to the CSCW and CHI communities more broadly.

Please email your submission by November 25, 2011 to spwyche[at]gmail[.]com. You may use the CHI Extended Abstracts format for your submission.


To be determined.

Position Papers

To be determined.


Susan Wyche, Virginia Tech, Computer Science Department
Elisa Oreglia, U.C. Berkeley, School of Information
Morgan Ames, Stanford University, Department of Communication
Chris Hoadley, New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Aditya Johri, Virginia Tech, Department of Engineering Education,
Phoebe Sengers, Cornell University, Information Science/ Science & Technology Studies
Charles Steinfield, Michigan State University, Department of Telecommmunication, Information Studies, and Media

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