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Workshop on Appropriate Methods for Design in Complex and Sensitive Settings

Keith Cheverst (University of Lancaster); Martin Gibbs, Connor Graham and Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), Mark Rouncefield (University of Lancaster)


This workshop aims to explore developments in research and design methods for exploring complex and sensitive settings. Sensitive settings typically hold intractable problems for the HCI researcher and (consequently) may have not been targeted by HCI in the past. The settings could include community care settings, the home and settings that involve activity particularly susceptible to contingencies, such as those experienced by a mobile worker. We are concerned with discussing novel approaches or adaptations of established techniques, such as cultural and technology probes, and investigating how these approaches can feed into the design process; either directly or through co-realisation, structured participatory design workshops, scenario based design and other approaches.

We are interested in papers describing multidisciplinary work which aims to uncover opportunities for the deployment of technical systems in sensitive settings. In the work presented in papers the goals of the system could be broad, somewhat ‘slippery’ to define and hard to evaluate, such as the goals of encouraging and facilitating notions of community or intimacy. In such cases, a spectrum of approaches may exist, ranging from the semi-structured to more open ended. The former may involve the use of a particular kind of technology deployment, such as situated displays, as part of the research objective. The latter may involve an exploration of a domain of activity that is relatively unconstrained by technology and considers a range of technologies, such as mobile devices, ubiquitous systems or haptic feedback systems, to support the activities under investigation.

Papers should report on the subtleties of how this kind of research has been applied in particular settings and how such approaches could be applied in the future, with a view to identifying particular strengths of these approaches and newly combined techniques. Submitted papers should also discuss how the output of such methods have been, or could be, translated into design and used within the design process.