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Conference Recap NordiCHI'18

From September 30th to October 3rd 2018, I attended the NordiCHI'18 conference in Oslo. It is the main forum for human-computer interaction (HCI) research in the Nordic countries. This year's conference was hosted by the Department of Informatics at the University of Oslo and the Department of Computer Science at Oslo Metropolitan University. The theme was revisiting the life cycle.

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Why I attended?

We submitted a paper for the demo track, which got accepted (you can read it in the ACM Digital Library. I have to mention that the acceptance rate for this track was 100% . As the first author of the paper, I presented the demo to the audience. It was the first time we presented our research project Brelomate to a non-German-speaking audience which was a great experience!

Facts & Figures

In total, 260 participants from 27 countries attended. The top 5 countries from where the attendees came were Norway (68), Denmark (35), Germany (30), Sweden (29) and USA (16). Only three attendees (including me) were from Austria. Concerning the acceptance rates, you can see the numbers in the table below (Source: conference proceedings):

Type Submitted Accepted %
Full papers 240 59 24%
Work-in-progress 41 15 36%
Future Scenarios 13 5 38%
Design Cases 5 2 40%
Demos 5 5 100%
Posters 17 9 53%
Industrial Experiences 11 5 45%
Workshop proposals 19 12 63%

Take-Aways

The following section mentions a few contributions, which were presented at the conference, including the title, abstract and the download link for downloading the paper as PDF. Note that you need access to the ACM Digital Library to open them.

Krishi Kontho: an agricultural information service in Bangladesh

"In this paper, we present Krishi Kontho (literally, "agricultural voices"), which is an agricultural information service that utilises pre-recorded voice messages, and SMS, that are pushed to smallholder farmers mobile phones at intervals carefully choreographed with the life cycles of their crops. We present the design of the service, and we present the result of an eleven-month field trial in rural Bangladesh. Findings indicate that this type of service, that synchronises messages with cultivation practice, may improve crop yields while reducing the use of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and pesticides. We find that the farmers in the field trial deemed the service to be of value to them in regard to improving their agricultural practices. We conclude by discussing our findings and their implications for the design of agricultural information services, including the challenge of designing for specific temporalities, or rhythms of practice, in rural Bangladesh and elsewhere."

PDotCapturer and PDotAnalyser: Participatory Design Online Tools for Asynchronous Idea Capturing and Analysis

"To create useful and usable products, designers should hear end-users' voices. Participatory Design (PD) activities are aimed at making user voices heard by actively including end-users in the design process. Traditional paper- and prop-based PD methods have shortcomings, especially when it comes to a distributed project and evaluation setting. To address them there exist several software solutions to support the gathering of user ideas, for example PDotCapturer. However, software support for the task of analysing the gathered data, which becomes necessary in a 'fast and furious' PD setting, is lacking. To address this issue we have been motivated to create an online tool for designers called PDotAnalyser. This tool was evaluated in three studies involving novice and expert designers. The results show that PDotAnalyser is a good addition to the toolbox of designers, who, nevertheless, would benefit from more support given by additional automation."

I wanna highlight two talks which were using the (participatory) design fiction method:

Near future cities of things: addressing dilemmas through design fiction

"The smart city infrastructure will soon start to include smart agents, i.e., agentic things, which co-exist and co-perform with human citizens. This near-future scenario explores the flexible types of collaborations and relationships between the human and nonhuman citizens. Drawing on current technology forecasts and AI/robotics literature, we created five fictional concepts for reflecting on themes we deem important for such collaborations: responsibility, delegation, relationship, priority, and adaptation. The promises, challenges and threats of these themes are discussed in this paper, together with the new questions that were opened up through the use of design fiction as a method."

PDFi: participatory design fiction with vulnerable users

"Traditional user-centred design processes frequently marginalize vulnerable users. Their perspectives are thus not well represented in discussions of the future of the medicines and technologies on which they rely. We present PDFi, a method that responds to this issue in the context of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). PDFi was developed through a collaboration with a medical device development company. The method marries Participatory Design (PD) strategies with Design Fictions (DFi) to personally ground, inspire and reveal values and imaginaries of vulnerable individuals who rely on medical technologies for their health and wellbeing. By more fully including these vulnerable users in shaping their medical technology futures, PDFi gives voice to those most impacted by such futures; it elicits emotions, discussion and debate, and powerfully reshapes current approaches to user-centred design."

Oslo Impressions

In the spare-time, I had the chance to get to know a little bit the city of Oslo. I was staying at the Saga Apartments Oslo, which I can highly recommend. The overall experience was fine and the price was okay. Also, the neighborhood was very quiet. When I entered the apartment for the first time, I was a little bit surprised about the very big windows, everyone passing by could see inside my apartment. But, it was the same for the neighboring houses, they all had big windows and no curtains even at nights. The second thing which caught my attention: On the streets, you can see so many electric cars passing by. No wonder, as Norway is one the leaders in the field of electromobility.

The city itself is very colorful, the houses have different colors, flowers and many parks are spread across the city on every corner. Also, the architectural design is outstanding and differs with every building, a quite fabulous combination of old and modern architecture. I took some pictures while walking around the city:

As I'm working in the field of usability and user experience, I always take special attention on the user experience and usability of a new surrounding. There were some things that caught my attention. In my apartment, I wasn't able to turn off the oven. The touch interface was so confusing, that even turning it off was a challenge. At MENY - a supermarket - there were only self-checkout machines open. The whole interface was Norwegian, and there was no option for changing the language. Also, the interface was not self-explaining, and I needed an employee to finish my checkout the right way. Last but not least, my Apartment's door was strange, when I closed the door to leave it, it made the "look noise" and I was quite sure the door was locked, but I could still open it. After I held the key card to the lock again, the door was locked. That didn't really make sense to me.

Overall, Oslo was worth a visit and a really appreciated the time there! Last, but not least: If you wanna know where the next NordiCHI will take place: In 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia, visit nordichi2020.org for more details.