intenational workshop on simtech news

1½ day event in Melbourne (Australia), November 26-27th


"That's a funny kind of thing, in which each new object becomes the occasion for seeing again what we can see anywhere; seeing people's nastiness or goodness or all the rest, when they do this initially technical job of talking over the phone. The technical apparatus is, then, being made at home with the rest of our world. And it's a thing that's routinely being done, and it's the source for the failures of technocratic dreams that if only we introduced some fantastic new communication machine the world will be transformed. Where what happens is that the object is made at home in the world that has whatever organization it already has." Harvey Sacks, 1992:548-9

This one and a half day workshop, supported by Mark Rouncefield's European Microsoft Research Fellowship "Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies", and preceding the 2007 Australasian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (OzCHI'07) is responding to the proliferation and developing constellations of 'social' and 'mundane' technologies in people's everyday lives. These technologies are often simple, minimalist and 'loose' and yet support richly layered social interactions which are sustained and develop across time, place, and culture.

This workshop will centre around the social interaction around three main classes of 'mundane technologies' – mobile technologies, domestic technologies and management technologies. We do not regard these as mutually exclusive categories and, indeed, an additional interest for us is how particular technologies can blur category boundaries and operate across different situations. Our particular interest is around the use of digital photos (e.g. mobile phone cameras), the generation digital documents of life (e.g. blogs, Web pages, text messages, phone call logs) and office technologies (e.g. wordprocessors, email, calendar applications) by leaders and, more generally, in everyday life. Put simply, we are interested in exploring 'real' studies of quite ordinary technologies that have already been appropriated (Carroll et al., 2002), domesticated (Silverstone, 1991) and subsumed into the fabric of family, social and organisational life and do particular work: maintaining a sense of community; assisting with everyday decision-making; maintaining "social translucence" (Erikson and Kellogg, 2000); providing channels for emotional labour; and so on. We also have a strong interest in how technology supports or fails to support the crossing of boundaries in everyday life – between home, work, public and 'third places' – and how we (use technology to) deal with the 'in-betweeness' of life. We define 'mundane technologies' as those quite unremarkable technologies that, given the context in which they operate, have been 'made at home', have become 'ordinary', in plain view yet invisible because they are, indeed, part of the organisation already in place.

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Associate Professor Barry Brown

Barry Brown is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Communications at UCSD San Diego. In over fifty published papers and books the focus of his work has been on the sociology and design of leisure technologies - games, music, and the like. He has recently published work on games, tourism, museum visiting, the use of maps,television watching and sport spectating. He holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Surrey.

Dr Keith Cheverst

Keith Cheverst is a Senior Lecturer in the Computing Department at Lancaster University. Keith Cheverst’s research interests lie in the user centered design and evaluation of interactive systems that utilise mobile and/or ubiquitous computing technologies. He has served on numerous program committees (e.g. CONTEXT, UM, IUI, Interact, MobileHCI etc.) and has published over 50 peer reviewed research research papers in leading international conferences and journals (in 2003 he was co-auther on the paper which was awarded the 'Gitte Lindgaard Award'). In addition, Keith has co-organised a series of workshops on 'HCI and Mobile Guide systems' (now in its fourth year) and he recently co-edited a special issue of Behaviour and Information Technology on: 'Mobile guides - an HCI perspective'. He was also a co-organiser of the 2003 workshop on User Modelling in Ubiquitous Computing '03. He has been a reviewer for the leading journals including, ACM Transactions of Mobile Computing, IEEE Computer, IEEE Pervasive Computing, UMUAI, JCSCW, CACM.

Dr Dave Randall

Dave Randall is a Principal Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK. He is associated with a particular ethnomethodological tendency often associated with Manchester and Lancaster. He has published extensively, including two books and a 100+ refereed papers, on matters relating to methodologies for design and most notably in the interdisciplinary arena called CSCW. His latest book, written with Richard Harper of Microsoft Research and Mark Rouncefield of Lancaster University, is called, 'Fieldwork for Design'.

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"Technologies do not produce necessary effects (i.e. technological determinism), but are part of the bundle of actants through which agency is scripted, produced, enacted, contested and repeated. Indeed, new transport technologies are often slow in their uptake (see Pooley et al. 2006), while in other cases the accumulation of small repetitions – as with the growth of mobile phone use or communications between offices using faxes – can lead to a 'tipping point' in which an entire system is transformed, it seems, overnight (Gladwell, 2000). Thus the contributers to this volume pay close attention to the mundane ways people actually use technologies, the manners in which designers implement and adapt devices and systems, and how infrastructures are culturally as well as technically embedded. As Amin and Thrift put it: 'Each urban movement can spark performative improvisations which are unforeseen and unforeseeable' (2002:4)." Sheller and Urry, 2006:11

Our primary interest is in understanding how 'mundane technologies' really work in people's lives. We are concerned with (but are certainly not restricted to) answering questions like:

One of our secondary interests is how mundane technologies can be useful methodological instruments in the ethnographic enterprise and how they can be combined with other, more 'traditional' approaches in social science research, to inform how technology is used and how practices, rhythms and routines are structured around technology to get work done. Our assumption is that these 'mundane technologies' are at a mature level of adoption, with seemingly well worked-out affordances so that their use has become so tightly entwined with activity and social interaction as to be almost invisible and thus, difficult to study and to be surprised by. We are also convinced that the digital trails left my individuals as they traverse their everyday lived and what people slough and shed via mundane technologies can provide real insights for the ethnographic enterprise: browser histories, mobile phone logs, temporary files generated on-the-fly etc.. We are interested in how these 'digital footprints' can be provide insights into people’s use of technology. Additional concerns are: how such technologies are 'made at home in the world'; the social translucence afforded by such 'mundane technologies'; how they are hashed together with other technologies to get work done: how they are reconfigured over time as functionality evolves, the context of use changes etc.

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Among other things, we want to:

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We no longer accept workshop paper submissions. However, if you wish to participate you can still do so in 2 ways:

  1. Poster submission
    Please submit a 2-page paper in accordance with the ACM SIG format. All submissions should be submitted to Connor Graham at cgraham [at] Submissions need not be anonymised: they will be reviewed by the Program Chairs and selected on the basis of their relevance and interest. Successful posters will be displayed at the workshop and briefly presented.
  2. Participation proposal
    Please submit a 1-page proposal with a short academic biography and a brief description of work that you have done/are doing that is relevant to the workshop themes. Successful applicants will be added to the list of participants (as well as the presenters)

People can register on on the 26th but cannot guarantee or subsidise attendance at the workshop dinner (evening of 26th) and lunch (afternoon of 27th)

All presenters, poster submissions and participants should indicate their planned attendance at the workshop dinner (evening of 26th) and lunch (afternoon of 27th) as soon as possible after receiving confirmation of their attendance. We, unfortunately, cannot guarantee a place at the these events if participants register on the day.

Successful authors will be invited to present (10-15 minutes) and discuss (5-10 minutes) their papers during the first day of the workshop. The second, half day of the workshop will focus on developing the themes and papers of the first day. The first day will consist of some formal talk and questioning, with the second consolidating the ideas in papers towards further publication. Revised papers will be published in a planned issue of the Personal and Ubiquitous Computing journal. Eventually we intend to publish an edited book from the themes and papers seeded at the workshop.

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Papers due: Friday 28th September
2400 (EST) to cgraham [at]
Acceptance notification: Monday 15th October
Final papers due: Sunday 28th October
Accepted papers available: Friday 2nd November
Posters/proposals due: Friday 2nd November
2400 (EST) to cgraham [at]
Acceptance notification: Tuesday 7th November
Accepted posters/proposals available Friday 9th November
Workshop preliminaries: Sunday 25th November
Workshop registration: Monday 26th November

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The cost to attend this one and a half day workshop is GBP(£)90 (full fee) and GBP(£)50 (student/unemployed). This will include attendance at the workshop sessions, materials, refreshments and a subsidised workshop dinner and lunch.

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Amin, A. & Thrift, N 2002. Cities: Reimagining the Urban. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Carroll, Jennie., HOWARD, S., Vetere, F., Peck, J. and Murphy, J. 2002, Just what do the youth of today want? Technology appropriation by young people. In R.H. Sprague (ed.) Proceedings of the 35th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-35), January 2002, Maui, Hawaii, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE)

Erickson, T., Kellogg, W. Social Translucence – An Approach to Designing Systems that Support Social Processes. ACM Transactions in Computer-Human Interaction 7, (2000), 59-83

Gladwell, M., (2000) The Tipping Point. London: Little Brown and Company.

Pooley, C, Turnbull, J. and Adams, M. (2006) ‘The impact of new transport technologies on intra-urban mobility: a view from the past’ Environment and Planning A, 38, 253-67

Sacks, H. "A single instance of a phone-call opening", in Jefferson, G. (ed) Lectures on Conversation Volume II, pp. 542-553, Blackwell: Oxford, 1992

Sheller, M. and Urry, J. Mobile Cities, Urban Mobilities in Sheller and Urry, 2006.

Silverstone, R., Hirsch, E., and Morley, D. “Information and communication technologies and the moral economy of the household”. In Sorenson, K. H. and Berg, A.J. (eds) Technology and Everyday Life. Trajectories and Transformations. Report No. 5, Oslo: NAVF-NTNF-NORAS, 1991.

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